Fixer Upper: 12 Behind The Scenes Secrets


Fixer Upper has quickly become one of the most popular shows on HGTV and the stars, Chip and Joanna, have become full fledged stars! The show takes place in central Texas, near their hometown of Waco, Texas, where they meet with clients to help them buy and remodel their dream home. The reality series premiered back in 2013 and is now onto its fourth season with an ever growing fan base. We know there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make any reality show a success and we’ve got all the details on this one! Here’s a look at 12 behind the scenes secrets from the Fixer Upper!

12. The Application Process is Speedy

Former client Rachel Whyte, who also worked for the couple as a Waco-based photographer, told Country Living magazine that the process of being chosen as a client happens really fast on Fixer Upper. Rachel and her husband, Luke applied to be on the show in March 2015 for season 3 and were accepted by the end of April. After that filming started right away in the month of May. Another former client named Jamie said he heard back from the casting agency the very next day! “After that it was a quick, big, exciting blur consisting of a Skype interview, written questionnaire and some phone calls and meetings,” he said.

11. Application

Even though the application process is speedy, clients do have to fill out a lengthy 68 page long application and meet a few crucial requirements like already owning a home. The application they must fill out asks specific questions like the square footage of their home and the year it was built. The homeowners are also asked to send in photos of their house, specifically the rooms they would like renovated.

10. How Do Contestants Prepare

To be a contestant on Fixer Upper is a pretty awesome experience, but clients don’t just sit back and wait for Chip and Joanna to do all the work. The clients also have to do a little bit of prep work before they appear on the show. They are asked to decide exactly what rooms they want renovated and come up with a realistic budget. They sign off on the budget at the beginning of the show and then it’s in the hands of Chip and Joanna. The budget will be allocated towards whatever is on the clients wishlist, but the design team will also come up with their own decisions on what they think will make the renovation TV-worthy.

9. House Hunting

HGTV viewers know many of the shows follow a very specific format that is replicated in each and every episode. Fixer Upper is no different! Each episode starts off with a real estate day. The clients head out with Chip and Joanna to shop for three potential homes they would like to renovate. Because the real estate market is so unpredictable, the clients will already know which home they are going to choose prior to filming. In some cases, the home has already been purchased! In the case of Rachel and Luke, they had already chosen the home and been living in it for several weeks when they started filming, but they were open to looking at the two other options Chip and Joanna wanted (and needed) to show them for the sake of the show.


8. Clients are Hands Off

Once the design is signed off on and the renovation process is underway, the clients are hands off. They have to move out of the house and go stay elsewhere for the number of weeks it takes to complete the renovation. According to Rachel Whyte, she only met with Chip and Joanna twice during the entire process — on real estate day and during their design meeting. The clients aren’t completely shut out, there is still a line of communication through texts, calls or emails in order to make particular decisions. We’re sure many clients drive by their home while it’s under renovation just to sneak a peak at its progress.

7. Joanna Pays Attention to What the Homeowner Wants

People can sometimes be deterred away from using interior designers because they feel like their personal style isn’t taken into consideration. Some designers will incorporate their own style or whatever the latest trend is at the time, but this is not the case with Joanna. She really makes an effort to get to know what the client wants, their personal taste and then bases her design on that. In order to do this she will ask the clients to make a Pinterest board so she can get a sense of their style.

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6. What are Chip and Joanna Really Like?

Since Whyte and her husband knew the Gaines prior to their HGTV fame, she answered a few questions about what the married couple are really like when the cameras aren’t rolling. Do they change at all when the cameras are around? According to Whyte, what you see is what you get with these two! “Joanna can be more reserved when she’s in work mode, while Chip is pretty much always extroverted and down to chat with anyone he’s around.” Joanna is definitely the quieter of the two, especially when she “gets in the zone.”

5. Not Scripted

There’s always a debate around reality television and whether or not what we watch at home is really how it all goes down. Audiences have also wondered whether some situations are staged in order to produce a great episode, but according to Whyte, when it comes to Fixer Upper — it’s all real. “What happens really is real. The producers might have you repeat things a few times, and they might film things multiple times from different angles, but the reactions and conversations are real. The hard thing is remembering what you said before when asked to repeat it,” said Whyte.

4. Chip and Joanna Cute Moments

Whyte shared a story about Chip and Joanna to shed some insight on whether these two really are as cute as they appear to be on camera — and it seems they are! “Something I think is cute is when it’s early in the morning on reveal days before all the chaos has started, Joanna will be in the house making sure everything is perfectly in its place, and Chip will sometimes bring her coffee and make her sit down to eat a breakfast taco. I think it’s sweet that he’s concerned about her and wants her to be fueled for the day,” said Whyte.


3. Reveal Day

Before it all goes down, Joanna heads to the house early to make sure it’s ready to go. On the day of the reveal clients will meet Chip and Jo at a location near their house, get mic’d up and drive over to the house with them. It basically happens how viewers see it on TV. The clients are instructed to cover their eyes when they get close to the house and then they are led over to the canvas where the initial big reveal is filmed. According to former client Jamie, these reveal days are pretty long. They started filming at 8 a.m. and finished up at 4 p.m.

2. Giant Canvas Poster

Each reveal starts with the couple standing in front of a giant canvas poster that is a picture of what their house looked like pre-renovation. Chip and Joanna then pull apart the canvas to reveal what their home looks like now. These posters look pretty big on television and according to Jamie, in real life they are huge. They are designed to cover the scope of the house so the clients can’t sneak a peek, so that’s pretty big! The clients are allowed to keep these posters, but no one ever does because they can’t even get them in the house!

Courtesy of David Ridley

1. Do Clients Keep the Furniture?

One of the most common questions from Fixer Upper fans is whether or not the clients get to keep the furniture we see in the final reveal. The answer is no, but they can purchase it if they want. “There is a separate budget to buy the furniture and things used to stage your home, but I would expect that most people have their own furniture already,” said Rachel. When the cameras stop rolling, the furniture is taken away unless the homeowners want to purchase it with any additional money they’ve set aside in their budget. The exception to this is any custom pieces Clint makes or any custom design work in the home. “They’ll give you an itemized list of how much everything costs at the end to see if you want to purchase things at a discounted price,” said Whyte. In some cases, Joanna will take pieces of furniture the homeowner already owns and work it into her final reveal.

Katherine G

Katherine G

Katherine is the Managing Editor for Health and Parenting, but she has a soft spot for entertainment. She loves binging shows on Netflix, reality TV is a guilty pleasure, and country music is her go-to playlist. When she's not writing, she's spending time outdoors, especially with her puppy Zoey!