Updated July 22, 2020.
It’s the dream: to live in a home renovated and designed by the dynamic Magnolia Homes duo, Chip and Joanna Gaines! If you’re lucky enough to live in or near Waco, TX, it’s a possibility. If you’ve never seen the TV show Fixer Upper, set your TV to record an episode or two, and you’ll know what all the fuss is about.
I had the opportunity to take my mom and her friend Debbie along with me on a “Fixer Upper Girlfriend Getaway” to celebrate my mom’s birthday, and we got to stay in a Fixer Upper House! We stayed in the Mailander House from Season 1, which has come to be known as the “Bicycle House” because of a vintage bicycle that Joanna found and mounted on the wall in one of the rooms. I had the opportunity to chat with the home’s owners and ask a few questions. What’s it’s like to live in a Fixer Upper? We’re about to find out!
1. How long did you live here before people started to show interest in the property as a Fixer Upper?
People in the area showed interest even before the show aired. One of our neighbors came over after church one day and knocked on the door just to thank us! Other people started driving by and wanting to take pictures of the house pretty soon after our episode aired.
More here: A Peek Inside the Mailander House
2. What still needed to be done after the cameras stopped rolling?
We’ve done another $30K in upgrades and repairs. We could only swing $65K for the initial renovations that you saw on the show, so we saved some things to do on our own as we could.
3. When and why did you start renting?
The success of Chip and Joanna’s Magnolia House got some of us homeowners thinking. We are not making a ton of money – our goal is to pay off our house loans in 5 years. We took a risk on an old beat-down property that no one believed in, and with the help of Magnolia, are now sharing it with fans who want an authentic experience. It’s the little things we do in life that can make the most difference, and we are providing some folks a pleasant visit and happy memory.
Keep reading: 10 Reasons to Visit Waco, Texas
4. What are your accommodations while people stay here?
We have a nice mid-century modern house nearby. We’re over here just about every day to do maintenance and clean it up for guests, but we have another house where we live.
5. How often do you stay in your Fixer Upper, or are you always booked up?
We could stay there in the narrow windows of time when no one is staying there, but we are booked up just about all the time.
Read on: Waco: Beyond the Silos
6. Are you in touch with other Fixer Upper families?
We are, mostly with the others who are also renting out their homes. We’ve all had to be properly permitted and meet with the City’s planning commission, so we know them through that process.
More here: 5 Trips for Positive Vibes
7. Did you have some disappointments after the process was finished?
Well, we had some cracking in the walls a few months after construction was completed. They had to get it done quickly, and because of some heavy rains we had during the renovation, the ground actually shifted a lot after they leveled the house. But Chip came over with a structural engineer, and we came to an agreement about how to get it fixed. The contractor did the work at-cost (no markup), and Magnolia split the cost with us 50/50. Magnolia’s crew even came in after to patch and paint the cracks, and they did a great job. So it was a disappointment, but the situation was fixed.
8. Do you ever see Chip and Jo around town?
They keep a pretty low profile, since their family privacy is very important to them. Sometimes Chip will go down to the Silos and visit with people or work the register, but for the most part, they keep to themselves. My wife Marla is their vet, but even she doesn’t really see them. Usually their helpers bring the dogs in when they need to come to the vet.
More here: What to Eat at the Magnolia Silos Baking Co.
9. What’s your favorite thing about your Fixer Upper?
All the windows. There is so much natural light because the windows are so well placed. We also really love what they did with the kitchen. They really maximized a small space to make it truly functional.
Keep reading: The Very Best of Waco
10. What do people ask you about the most?
At first people asked if we got to keep the furniture (the answer is no, it’s all staged), but that little secret came out online a while back, so people know we didn’t get to keep it. More recently, people like to ask if we can introduce them to Chip and Joanna (the answer to that is also no). Often people ask why we moved, what restaurants we recommend, and stories about the Mailander family, who owned this house. I love to talk to people about the house, and I welcome the questions when people come to stay at our house!
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