And they were getting by through flipping houses — he as a contractor, she as a decorator. They were also part of a real estate business. One day they were approached about making a pilot for HGTV. Their lives turned upside-down after “Fixer Upper” first aired in 2013.
The show features Chip, 42, and Joanna, 39, turning dilapidated houses into dream homes for buyers. It was an instant hit and soon became one of the highest-rated shows in the network’s history. Waco was suddenly flooded with tourists, and Chip and Joanna became media darlings, gracing covers of magazines such as People.
As the show’s popularity grew, so did the couple’s fame, businesses and bank accounts. It was fun being famous and then it wasn’t. Eventually, it took a toll.
On Tuesday, the couple announced in a video that they were ending the show after five seasons. The final season premieres in November.
In a blog post, the couple said: “While we are confident that this is the right choice for us, it has for sure not been an easy one to come to terms with.”
People magazine reported it this way: “The announcement comes as a shock to viewers who have followed the couple on their journey from a small-town construction and decorating duo in Waco, Texas, to international celebrities.
Here are a few of the highlights and challenges the couple faced:
Chip’s former business partners in Magnolia Realty filed a lawsuit in May, claiming he had defrauded them. John L. Lewis and Richard L. Clark, both lawyers, said Chip bought out their shares of the business for $2,500 apiece two days before announcing that HGTV had signed on to air “Fixer Upper.” He never told them about the HGTV deal, they said.
Last year, a neighboring business owner in downtown Waco sued the couple over a gate. The couple had been leasing a vacant lot next to their businesses for parking. When the lease expired, another company bought the lot and started charging people $10 to park. Chip wasn’t happy and put up the gate, which blocked access to their store. He said he didn’t want people to think they had to pay for parking to shop at his businesses.
2. Religion comes under attack
As the show’s popularity rose, so did the public’s curiosity about the couple’s private life. Last November, a BuzzFeed columnist wrote about the nondenominational, evangelical church they attend and the pastor’s hard-line stance against same-sex marriage.
HGTV, a gay-friendly network, was put on the defensive. “We don’t discriminate against members of the LGBT community in any of our shows,” the network said in a statement.
In January, Chip finally posted a blog item that indirectly addressed the matter:
Joanna and I have personal convictions. One of them is this: we care about you for the simple fact that you are a person, our neighbor on planet earth. It’s not about what color your skin is, how much money you have in the bank, your political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender, nationality or faith. That’s all fascinating, but it cannot add or take away from the reality that we’re already pulling for you. We are not about to get in the nasty business of throwing stones at each other, don’t ask us to cause we won’t play that way. You wanna talk about how to build bridges between people that disagree? We want to be a part of that conversation. Do you want to talk about healing and compassion and kindness and restoration? We’re in the restoration business, we can for sure make time for that.
3. Massive business ventures
The couple owns and operates Magnolia Homes, a construction, remodeling and design business. Their base in Waco is called Magnolia Market at the Silos, a retail compound that reportedly draws 40,000 visitors weekly. Their other ventures include a quarterly magazine; vacation rentals; furniture, paint, rugs and wallpaper lines that can be found in major outlets.
In other words, they’re stretched pretty thin. Meanwhile, their children have gotten older: Drake is 12, Ella is 10, Duke is 9 and Emmie is now 7.
“This is just us recognizing that we need to catch our breath for a moment,” the couple said in a blog post announcing their final “Fixer Upper” season. “Our plan is to take this time to shore up and strengthen the spots that are weak, rest the places that are tired and give lots of love and attention to both our family and our businesses.”