What It's Really Like to be Cast on Fixer Upper Part II

After my first exclusive interview with season 3 client Jaime Ferguson, I know that there are quite a few of you reading who are avid Fixer Upper fans. I accidentally became a Fixer Upper expert after that post and I'm totally cool with that, because duh, Chip and Joanna Gaines that's why. So many people wonder what it's really like to be on the HGTV hit reality TV show Fixer Upper since it's an opportunity available only to those living in or around Waco, Texas. 

I've had the chance to get to know several past clients who are all fabulous people.  Every single one of them that I have met, including Lindy Ermoian who will be giving us an inside look, has been grateful for the opportunity. Today, I'm asking all the questions and finding out all the answers that you all {or in true Fixer Upper fashion y'all} have been curious about in part two of "what it's really like to be cast on Fixer Upper." I jumped on a phone call with season 3 client Lindy Ermoian whose home became known as Coastal Calm in the Country.  I thought I knew everything, but man, I found out a thing or two that surprised me! So come on along, check out what it's really like to be a client of Chip and Joanna Gaines and have your home remodeled on HGTV Fixer Upper.

What It's Really Like to be Cast on Fixer Upper Part II

There is Some Acting

At this point, it shouldn't be a surprise to you that there is some acting involved in a reality show. If you read this post, this next revelation won't surprise you at all. Fixer Upper starts every show touring three potential homes for the clients. The homeowners "act" like they are interested in purchasing the homes, however, most of the time, the clients have already purchased the home or are under contract.

Had the Ermoian's not been selected for Fixer Upper, they would not have purchased the home they did because the house was never something Lindy ever imagined herself living in. In fact, she hated it. They wanted to live close to her aging parents, and they found a home right next door. A home that was actually her grandmother's. What you see on the episode though included some acting on Lindy's part.

Here's the write up from the "before" image on the HGTV Fixer Upper site;
When Chip and Joanna included this home on their tour of potential homes for the Ermoians, they had no idea that this one had actually once belonged to Lindy Ermoian's grandmother and was built by her great uncle. It was built in 1971, had 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 2400 square feet, and the current owners were asking $100,000.
When you watch the episode you see Lindy gasping as they head up the long drive and saying "you aren't going to believe this but...," revealing to Chip and Joanna who already know full well that the home they are about to show them has not only already been purchased by the Ermoian's but that it was Lindy's grandmothers home. The current owner that was offering it for sale for the bargain price of $100,000 was her parents.

Photo by Jennifer Boomer

You Can Purchase Handmade Items

It might surprise you, but some of the handcrafted items that are made for the home are actually included in the itemized spreadsheet of items that you can purchase after the show. Joanna crafted a set of 3 handmade shiplap framed coral pieces for the couples living room {seen above the couch}. The homeowner purchased them since she knew they were made with her house in mind. They were a very reasonable $75. Other handmade furniture items are gifted to the clients. For instance, there was a rolling bar that was made by Clint Harp for the Ermoian's music room that was gifted to them.  

You Have More Say in the Design Than Most Think

Lindy confided to me that the one thing that surprised her about the whole process working with Fixer Upper is that they had more design control than they thought they would have. Something I hadn't anticipated either, if you read this. Their designer would text them asking what they thought about a particular design element and Lindy would respond. She says that "it really did seem like they wanted to please us."
In fact, Lindy's nephew, a Seattle architect, actually helped them give input into the master bathroom. The reveal of the initial design done by Magnolia wasn't Lindy's favorite. She said that you were looking right at the toilet from the bedroom, not a sight she wanted. It was also important to her to have a lower vanity area. The nephew's ideas were shown to Joanna who approved, and Lindy loves that he had some input into the design.

You Don't Deal Directly With Chip and Joanna

In the beginning of the show, Chip and Joanna were much more hands on, but as the show has gained popularity season by season, a team of design assistants work closely with the cast and crew on Fixer Upper. The Ermoian family had a direct line to an assigned designer but never direct communication with Chip and Joanna. 

It's Not Hard to Give Up Design Control

At this point, if you apply to be on Fixer Upper you've probably seen a show or two. You know Joanna's style and you love her designs. It's not tough to give up design control when you know the outcome is going to be stunning.

Anytime Chip Swings a Hammer, it's Just for TV

During the remodel of the home, the couple is typically asked to not peek or drive by the home. The producers want reveal day to be the first day that the homeowners have seen the house and its transformation. 

This wasn't really possible for the Ermoian's. Lindy and Chris moved into her parent's guest house next door to the home as it was being remodeled, so they drove by daily. Not only that, the rest of the family had a front row seat to any of the work that was being done. None of it, by Chip. At least not on the exterior that they could see. Not that he's not capable of swinging a hammer, but this is one busy demoing duo.
Lindy did want the interior reveal to be as much of a surprise as it could be and she showed more restraint than I could have mustered by not peeking in the windows! 

Joanna Does the Staging
photo by Jennifer Boomer

The day of the staging is usually seen on TV with talk of Joanna pulling a long night and her four kids and husband breaking up the evening with cupcake or pizza delivery. Because of that front row seat the Ermoian's had, they were able to see those sweet moments Joanna had with her kids as they played in the backyard while Joanna {and her team} staged the home. The kids picked pears from the trees in the yard for the home reveal and Joanna was later seen hosing the kids off after they got in some dirt.

There are Benefits to Being on the Show

The Ermoian home had a rust color roof that Lindy hated and wasn't quite sure how Joanna was going to design around. Turns out Joanna decided she hated the roof too and offered to replace the roof for half price. A deal the Ermoian's couldn't pass up. Besides having a home remodeled and designed by Chip and Joanna Gaines, you also get some pretty great deals on construction costs.

The Home is NOT Always Complete at Reveal

While the home was mostly finished for the reveal, it was still weeks before the family could move in. There were finishing touches that had to be made on the trim and inspections that had to be passed before the family could occupy the home.  
Let's not forget, that all of the staged furniture also needed to be removed because we learned with our first Fixer Upper Exclusive that you don't get to keep the furniture.

The Show Isn't About the Clients

This is another thing that most of viewers would say of course it's not. Everyone loves seeing the design process and the chemistry between Chip and Joanna, we don't really care about the homeowners. While the homeowners I know and have spoken to understand this, they also are sometimes hurt or surprised by what doesn't make the show. 

The music room was a big feature of the Ermoian home. Chris is a talented musician and songwriter and he composed a song for his wife Lindy that was made into art for the room. On reveal day, Chris played the song to his wife while Chip and Joanna looked on and this tender moment was something the Ermoians were surprised didn't make the show.  You can find the song {Lighthouse} here.

Photo by Jennifer Boomer

The Home Renovation is Fast

Another benefit to being on Fixer Upper is that there is a fairly tight timeline due to the airing of the show. The home was taken down to the studs with construction starting in late July of 2015 and it was done by October 2015. If you have taken part in any home remodeling project, you will know that that is a pretty quick turn around!

Lindy had nothing but positive things to say about being cast on the show and she enjoyed her experience on Fixer Upper. Chip and Joanna took a home that Lindy hated and could never imagine living in, and made it into a home that made this couple that was described as nomadic on the show, want to put down roots. They have no intention of selling or renting out the home, but instead enjoy every inch of the space they are in.
Chris Ermoian wanted to finish by adding a few thoughts.
Chip Gaines may not have driven every nail but you would be hard pressed to find a single flaw in our home. The attention to detail is impeccable. Chip and Joanna have final say in the workmanship and it shows. This is one of the many reasons we worked with Fixer Upper instead of a cookie cutter contractor.. Our home IS a one of a kind unique work of art and we couldn't be more pleased. We were impressed with the attention we were given by Joanna's hand-picked design team to address our individual personalities and needs, and they nailed it. There was absolutely no acting in the way the home exceeded all of our expectations.

The reality is that living next to my parents has been a huge blessing upon our entire family. None of this would have happened without Fixer Upper. 

On a much larger scale.... No one has made a bigger impact on Waco's image than Chip and Joanna and High Noon Productions. People used to associate our town with negative images. Now people associate Waco with the beautiful and more realistic images portrayed by High Noon's vision. That is the real Waco and we thank the entire Magnolia team for changing Waco's image for the better. 

Keep them in your prayers. No one can imagine the impact and stress that success must have had on the Gaines family. We are impressed with their devotion to their faith, family, and each other. We hope they never leave Waco and continue their mission to change lives like ours, one house at a time. 
We can't all be cast on Fixer Upper and have our homes renovated by Chip and Joanna Gaines, but this will give you a little glimpse into what it's really like to be on the hit show. 
What an experience for everyone involved. As you can see, it's a true blessing by many to be involved in the show, from those food trucks that show up on reveal day to feed the many hands that help prepare the home, to the homeowners that occupy the homes that are so lovingly built, to the ripples that are felt all throughout the town and surrounding areas of Waco. You can see why so many people want to be a part of the work that Chip and Joanna Gaines are spearheading. They shine a light that draws people in like a moth to the flame. 

Don't forget to subscribe to my newsletter because if you are a Fixer Upper fan, I've got more information coming to you and you want to be the first person to get it delivered in your inbox!
Catch all the episodes from Season 3 of Fixer Upper including The Ermoian's episode {episode 14}
Can't get enough Fixer Upper? I loved The Magnolia Story, pick up a copy today, or subscribe to The Magnolia Journal

Still looking for more Fixer Upper? Check out these posts!

Fixer Upper Season 5 Sneak Peek
The Ultimate Fixer Upper Fan Guide
Fixer Upper: The Flip That Made Them Famous
11 Things you Didn't know about Fixer Upper and Waco, Texas
How to Get the Fixer Upper Look Without Being on the Show
Inside a Fixer Upper Home After the Show
Exclusive Interview with Fixer Upper Client Jaime Ferguson

Want to visit Magnolia Market and spend some time in Waco?

How to Plan the Perfect Trip to Waco, Texas
20 Places you Should Visit in Waco, Texas {Besides Magnolia Market}
Is it Worth a Special Visit to Magnolia Market
5 Things to Know Before you Visit Magnolia Market

Love Joanna's Style? Get it for Less!

Stay tuned! More Fixer Upper insider information coming soon! 

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Unknown said...

This is so exciting. I'm a reader of your blog and to just get sent to your page (which I had already read the other day) via link by Apartment Therapy was very cool!

Anonymous said...

I read on Joanna's blog that each client had the option of purchasing all of the furniture and decor. As for Chip not working on the house, just because you cant see him working outside doesnt mean he's not working inside. Plus, there were times where Chip and Joanna had four fixer uppers being remodeled at the same time.

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