Little-Known Facts About Home Design Guru Joanna Gaines

The home and design reality show, Fixer Upper, launched the careers of Joanna Gaines and her husband Chip. The couple influenced the housing market, built a business empire with their lifestyle and home brand Magnolia, and brought more tourism to their town of Waco, Texas. Joanna has stood out for her positive attitude, being a stand-out mother and wife, and influencing the general public to fall in love with “farmhouse chic.” Here are some fascinating facts that fans may not know about the home and design guru.

Joanna Wasn’t Born In Waco, Texas

USA Today found that Fixer Upper was responsible for an increase in tourism and economic development for the town of Waco, Texas. Even though Joanna and Chip Gaines are Waco’s biggest celebs, Joanna isn’t Waco born and raised.

She was born in Wichita, Kansas on April 19, 1978, to parents Nan and Jerry Stevens. Her family moved to Austin, Texas when she was 12-years-old and she didn’t move to Waco until her junior year of high school.

She Went To The Same College As Chip, But Never Met Him

Co-owner and co-founder of Magnolia Joanna Gaines before a game between the Kansas Jayhawks and the Baylor Bears
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Both Chip and Joanna Gaines are graduates of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and only graduated within three years of each other. Joanna went there to study communications and had no idea that her future husband was there at the same time.

The couple didn’t meet until after they had already graduated and realized they had never seen each other before. Since they are a few years apart, the only school year they would’ve been at Baylor together was from 1997 to 1998.

Joanna Met Chip Because His Car Wasn’t Working

Chip thanks his car troubles for helping him meet the love of his life. According to Pure Wow, a 27-year-old Chip had to take his car to be looked at when his brakes weren’t working.

Joanna’s father, Jerry Stevens, owned an automotive shop and she happened to be working there when he stopped in. Chip asked her out when she was 23 and they married a couple of years later on May 31, 2003, in Waco’s Earle Harrison House.

She Aspired To Be A Broadcast Journalist

Designer Joanna Gaines appears on a talk show
Donna Ward/Getty Images
Donna Ward/Getty Images

Home design isn’t what a younger Joanna pictured herself doing as an adult. When she arrived at college, she had dreams of becoming a broadcast journalist on a major TV network.

After earning a degree in communications from Baylor University, she interned for Dan Rather at CBS in New York City. “I always dreamed of the idea of television, but never thought it would have to do with design or renovations,” she said to Realtor.com.

Magnolia Was Originally Her Idea

Joanna Gaines discusses new book
Rob Kim/Getty Images
Rob Kim/Getty Images

Around the time of her marriage to Chip, Joanna started her own lifestyle and design shop. This would eventually become the couple’s business empire, Magnolia.

“In that store, I developed and sharpened my design style and skills, grew as a business owner, and gained much needed confidence in Magnolia Market and myself,” she said. As her family continued to grow, Chip and Joanna honed in on what made their business special and became America’s top home renovation experts.

Joanna’s Blog Caught The Attention Of HGTV

After opening Magnolia Market, Chip and Joanna decided to focus on the construction side of their business. While Chip did most of the actual building, Joanna used her design expertise to add a little flair to the homes.

She allowed people all around the world to keep up with their projects by posting them on a blog. Luckily, an HGTV executive took note of their work and thought that it would be a great reality series. Chip and Joanna were able to show their process to a much wider audience on Fixer Upper.

Her Favorite Room Is Not What Most Would Expect

Joanna is a design expert, meaning she knows how to turn any room into something pleasing to the eye. She obviously has to design her own home in Waco, Texas and she has a favorite room there.

She told Today, “I love my laundry room. I know it’s a funny thing to love, but this summer I gave it a complete makeover and now it’s a place that inspires me. Just the natural light alone makes me want to settle in and drink my morning coffee. As a bonus, it helps me dislike laundry a little less.”

The Gaines Don’t Pay For Their Renovations

Chip Gaines and Joanna Gaines on a talk show
Mireya Acierto/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Mireya Acierto/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Each episode of Fixer Upper includes Chip and Joanna turning a run-down home into a design masterpiece. It costs a great chunk of money to make this a reality, and neither the Gaines nor the network pay for the renovations.

The owners of the remodeled homes are the ones responsible for all the financial aspects of flipping their homes. This means that everything from the tools used to demolish the homes, the furniture, and the tiniest trinkets Joanna decorates with are all funded by the homeowners.

They Had A Brief Hiatus From Fixer Upper

Joanna Gaines and Chip Gaines attend the Time 100 Gala 2019
Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Fixer Upper premiered on HGTV on May 23, 2013, and ran for five seasons. Chip and Joanna have five children, so they wanted to take some time away from the spotlight to focus on their family.

Many of their friends and loved ones told them it was a bad idea because they would lose momentum. Even with a break, their business continued to flourish. “If you’re going for it and you’re moving forward, you can’t lose,” Joanna said to Today.

She And Chip Started Their Own TV Network

Chip Gaines and Joanna Gaines posing for a photo
Mireya Acierto/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Mireya Acierto/FilmMagic/Getty Images

When Joanna and Chip ended Fixer Upper, fans thought they wouldn’t be coming back to TV. Instead, the couple started their own television network in conjunction with DIY Network called Magnolia Network.

Their spin-off, Fixer Upper: Welcome Home, first aired on April 10, 2018, and the couple is still making new episodes. They also have quite a few new lifestyle, design, and cooking shows set to air soon including Family Dinner, The Fieldhouse, and Inn the Works. Joanna even has her own cooking show called Magnolia Table.

She’s A Morning Person

Being a mother of five and a business mogul isn’t easy. Joanna has some tips that help her day-to-day run smoothly. According to HGTV, Gaines wakes up at 5:30 every morning.

She does all the usual tasks of a parent including cooking a hot breakfast for the family, waking up the children, getting dressed, and making coffee. On a typical workday, she will be out the door no later than 8:15 a.m. In order to make sure she isn’t late, she always showers and dries her hair the night before.

Family Means Everything To Her

The Gaines family includes seven members. Aside from Chip and Joanna, there are five children named Drake, Ella, Duke, Emmie, and Crew. Joanna said having a baby at 40 turned her into “Fun Jo.”

Even with five children, Chip and Joanna aren’t opposed to adding more to their family. “When I’m 50, Chip’s going to want more kids. Just know, this is going to be the headline forever: ‘Jo’s pregnant. Again,'” she shared with Today.

She Lives In An 126-Year-Old Farmhouse

The Gaines family have one of the most sought-after homes in America. Their Waco, Texas farmhouse was built in 1895 and they have renovated it to exude “farmhouse-chic.” The house is 1700-square feet and sits on 40 acres of land.

According to Country Living, they restored the classic Victorian home to include their classic finishing touches including shiplap, subway tile, and plenty of plants. “It is this blending of the old and new that makes interior design such gratifying and creative work,” said Joanna.

Joanna Gaines’ Net Worth: Hint, She’s A Multi-Millionaire

A sign featuring HGTV's Fixer Upper hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines is seen in front of a
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Joanna is a businesswoman, reality television personality, and home renovation and design master. Having so much on her plate led her to massive earnings. Celebrity Net Worth states that her net worth is $10 million. Since almost all of her ventures are partnerships with her husband Chip, he has the same net worth.

One of their most successful business endeavors includes a line of housewares for Target. Their Target line has produced hundreds of products ranging from bedding to lifestyle items. Then, they extended their products to Anthropology with an exclusive line of pillows and rugs.

She Always Looks For Functionality While Designing

While having a home that looks aesthetically pleasing is every designer’s dream, it doesn’t always work out. Sometimes the designer needs to choose function over form and Joanna knows firsthand that function should come first.

“A few years ago I realized I was decorating and designing my house around what was beautiful, rather than practical for my family. When I made that realization, everything kind of clicked for me. I started being intentional about designing spaces with my kids in mind, rather than picture-perfect rooms,” she said to Today.

Her Parents Met In Korea

Joanna’s parents, Jerry and Nan Stevens, met overseas when he was serving during the Vietnam War. He was stationed in Seoul, South Korea, which is where her mom is originally from.

After three years together, they tied the knot in Las Vegas in 1972 and are still happily married. They had three daughters, with Joanna being the middle child between her sisters Teresa and Mary Kay. “[They] became an example of how to love, fight for, extend grace to, and honor each other amidst all their many differences,” Joanna said to Country Living.

She Has A Secret Obsession

Joanna Gaines is seen walking in soho
Raymond Hall/Getty Images
Raymond Hall/Getty Images

Joanna has shown off her talented design skills on Fixer Upper and through her various home design and renovation projects. Some fans may not know that she has a secret obsession.

She loves baking. “I’ve dreamed about having a bakery since I opened the Little Shop on Bosque Boulevard in 2003…I’ve designed a lot of kitchens inspired by bakeries I’ve seen when I travel,” she told Today. She recently opened her own bakery at the Magnolia Silos and recommends the Cup o’ Jo cupcake.

Fixer Upper Influenced The Housing Market

Chip and Joanna Gaines during an interview
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Fixer Upper became one of HGTV’s most-watched programs. A 2018 report by Zillow found that homes with architectural features mentioned on the show, such as wainscoting, shiplap, clawfoot bathtubs, and barn doors, sold about 30 percent above their expected value.

Joanna is credited for developing the “farmhouse chic” design layout, which has risen in popularity since the show aired. Many of the homes that were featured on the show are available for people to either buy or rent.

Her First Job Was Underwhelming

Customers pick food during a buffet dinner
China Photos/Getty Images
China Photos/Getty Images

First jobs aren’t always glamorous, especially for Joanna. Her very first job was working the condiments section of an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant. “I still have an appreciation for buffet lines,” she shared with PopSugar.

Although her husband isn’t a huge fan of buffets, she said her kids absolutely love them. She proved that it doesn’t matter where someone comes from, as long as they work hard and are passionate about what they do.

Her Worst Habit Is So Relatable

When it comes to personalities, Chip and Joanna are practically opposites. While Chip loves to take risks, Joanna often spends too much time worrying about the negative outcomes. Things such as logistics, budget, and deadlines are sometimes too much for her to handle.

“He thrives with risk. I learned quickly to trust Chip’s instincts on the buy and to be resourceful when it came to implementing the design, so that we were smart with our investments,” she said.

She Was In A Tire Commercial

Joanna Gaines and Chip Gaines posing for a photo
Brook Christopher/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Brook Christopher/FilmMagic/Getty Images

One of Joanna’s earliest jobs was working for her father, Jerry Stevens, in his automotive shop. She even starred in a television commercial for the shop, which became her first on-air appearance.

This is how Chip first noticed who she was. He entered the shop with his roommate, known as “Hot John,” and all Joanna noticed was his roommate. According to her memoir, she was too nervous to approach John, so she struck up a conversation with Chip. The rest is history.

She’s Not A Fan Of Technology

Although Joanna moved to New York City as a young adult, she decided to move back to Waco, Texas because she enjoyed the slow-paced life. She admitted that they don’t get a good wireless connection at their home, but it doesn’t bother her one bit.

“A big part of moving out to the country was to disconnect and enjoy being with our family,” she said to Today. Her family doesn’t even own a television.

She Sets Strict Rules For Her Children

Joanna is aware that she and Chip are major reality TV stars, but she doesn’t want that to affect how her children grow up. According to People, she and her husband own cell phones, but rarely use them.

Also, they will not allow their children to own cell phones until they go off to college. Chip and Joanna make sure to limit their kids’ screen time and tell them to go outside and play. That should be easy enough, considering they live on a 40-acre farm.

Her Biggest Design Mistakes

Since she didn’t have any background in design when she was starting out, Joanna made quite a few mistakes. “For our first high-end flip, I chose a tan stucco color. After it was painted, I pulled up to the house and it looked like a big yellow school bus,” she told HGTV.

While she was able to quickly figure out what she was doing wrong, that didn’t mean she would make more mistakes along the way. “I was experimenting with my design style at the time and every room had a different theme,” she shared with PopSugar.

She Always Has A Budget In Mind

Renovating an entire house can get expensive, but Joanna has some expert tips to keep in mind. When looking for furniture and decorations, she always tries to find pieces she would want in her own home.

“I always go with a budget in mind, so I don’t get carried away. When I find something I like, I first determine the value and what I will spend on it before I look at the price tag,” she said to PopSugar.

She Was Broke When She Married Chip

Joanna was determined to make her design dreams come true because she started with nothing. “I remember when we first got married the only money we had was what was in Chip’s pocket,” she said to People.

Chip was already flipping houses at this point, but Joanna’s father kept asking him when he was going to get a “real” job. He told him that it was his real job and he loved it. Luckily, Chip continued to renovate homes and Joanna followed suit.

She Doesn’t Get Tired Of Filming

'Fixer Upper' stars Chip and Joanna Gaines pose with a racecar
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

The chemistry between Chip and Joanna is undeniable on-screen, but some fans wonder if they are the same way in real life. Joanna says their TV portrayal couldn’t be more real.

She admitted that the more time she spends with Chip, the stronger their relationship grows. In their memoir titled The Magnolia Story, the couple shared that taking time apart doesn’t help them recharge and they would much rather spend as much time together as they can.

She’s Very Spiritual

Staying positive can be tough, especially for a busy businesswoman, reality show host, and mother of five. Joanna found a way to stay grounded and not to take life for granted.

She relies on her deep spirituality for both a source of comfort and to guide her life on a worthwhile path. “I can look back now at the pattern in my life and really believe God has a purpose for me,” she said to PopSugar.

She Has A Special Talent

Over the course of her life, Joanna has started a successful design business, co-hosted a famous reality show, and became the mother of five children, but that’s not all she can do.

She shared with HGTV that she has a special talent and most probably wouldn’t guess what it is. Joanna admitted that she’s pretty limber and is capable of doing a back handspring. Maybe she can add professional gymnast to her long list of life achievements.

What She Loves And Dislikes In Design

Having an eye for design is crucial for creating both an aesthetically pleasing and functional space to live in. Joanna knows exactly what she likes and can’t stand when designing a home.

According to HGTV, some of her favorite things to add to a house are fresh flowers, throw pillows, bright dishes, tea towels, and the color green. She wants it to look “simple, clean, and unexpected.” On the other hand, her design turn-offs include the color purple and when a house is too practical and pretty.