Why Chip and Joanna are BIG, FAT, LIARS (But we should all be watching their show anyway…)


I speak from experience. We just moved into our first (and last) fixer-upper. We chose the house because of the neighborhood – interesting social, religious, and economic diversity in a walkable neighborhood close to downtown Grand Rapids. We never once thought it’d be “fun” to do a fixer-upper. In fact, because we don’t have cable, we had never even heard of Chip and Joanna or seen their show before we were already knee deep in sheet rock.

But, curiosity got the best of me – and when our spring break hotel had cable, I binge-watched like 28 episodes of “Fixer Upper.” And now, like the rest of the world, I have a huge fan crush on the duo. This fact pisses me off, because I really want to hate them for making fixing-upping look “fun”.

However, as a REAL LIFE fixer-upper, AS WELL AS an expert on all things “Chip and Joanna”, I feel compelled to share our experience and contrast it to their show to expose them for the liars they are (or, to be fair, could it be they just have some incredibly crafty film editors??? It’s just not possible they are so perfect, is it???):


  • THEM:  Chip and Joanna generally run into one “minor snag” per renovation where they have to call the owner and ask for additional funds.
    • US:  With REAL LIFE fixing-upping, the shocking discovery that you have blown your budget to crap happens daily. (In fact, if you’re seriously contemplating a fixer-upper, you might want to ask yourself if you’re okay with selling your plasma, hair, AND sperm – because the good Lord knows it’s gonna cost you EVERYTHING else…)


  • THEM:  The Gaines’ kids are always polite, excited for their parents’ latest project, and eager to lend a hand.
    • US:  In REAL LIFE fixing-upping, your kids grow deaf to your endless requests for “help”.   Our kids needed to take muscle relaxers to alleviate facial tension from all their eye-rolling.


  • THEM:  Chipanna (I’m just going to call them that from now on, because they do life together so nauseatingly unified, they might as well be one…) don’t have to wait three weeks for the dry-wall guy to show up, four weeks for the plumber, and an eternity for the carpenter who promised every day for a month he’d be there tomorrow….
    • US:  In the REAL WORLD, you might as well get your Pokemon Go up and going – because you will be killing ALL KINDS of time waiting for MR. NEVER-GONNA-HAPPEN to show up.


  • THEM:  Chipanna never accidentally rips out a support beam, or blindly drives a nail into a water pipe, or gets impatient putting polyurethane on the wood floors causing it all to bubble and have to be redone.
    • US:  Just sayin’…..


  • THEM:  I’ve never seen Chipanna break a pane of stained glass window in a fixer-upper where the stained glass window was THE ONLY redeeming quality of the piece of crap house they were renovating…..
    • US:  Again, just sayin’…..


  • THEM:  Joanna never swears at Chip.
    • US:  In REAL LIFE fixing-upping, well…… no comment.


  • THEM:  Chip has all kinds of sweet pet names for Joanna – like Jo, Jojo, Mama and Buttercup.
    • US:  During our renovation, my husband had some choice names for me, too – but nothing like those…


  • THEM:  Chipanna never accidentally purchase a crack house.
    • US:  Yes, in fact, we did.


  • THEM:  Chipanna never seem to have to deal with probation officers who show up at the door looking for the previous tenants.
    • US:  Yes, in fact, they’ve been at our door more than once.


  • THEM:  Joanna always looks so darn cute. Whether it’s at the work site, antique shopping, or during the big reveal, she’s invariably stunning.
    • US:  Me? I showed up at the work site every day with bed head, bags under my eyes, my shirt on inside-out (to save on washing my paint clothes so often) and wearing an old pair of too-small running shorts which gave me a not-too-attractive constant wedgie.


  • THEM:  Chipanna always seem to throw together a hearty and healthy meal at the end of their long, hard work days.
    • US:  In REAL-LIFE fixing-upping, your evening meals look like this: McDonalds, Subway, Subway, Subway, and then every fifth day you “cook” and make everyone a tuna-fish sandwich that tastes like paint because of all the paint-brushes you have “saved for later” in your refrigerator.


  • THEM:  Chipanna always gets the house done on time. Who are these freakin’ demi-gods that they always meet their deadlines? How on God’s green earth do they do it???
    • US:  Even though we gave ourselves SEVEN FREAKING MONTHS for our renovation, we weren’t even CLOSE to being finished when we moved in. Our house looked like a crack house and the worst-ever-KOA-campground had a baby. For our “big reveal”, our house looked like this:
      Living Room – still awaiting paint
      Solarium – aka our temporary kitchen. And yes, that’s a random toilet waiting to be installed
      Family room – no freakin’ idea what we’re gonna do with this mess
      Back stair-way – complete with protruding nails that impale you if you get too close!

      Upstairs hall – and yes, that’s right, there’s no door to the bathroom because we can’t find it.


  • THEM:  Chipanna will once and a while make a joke about mice – but you never see any – or remnants of any other vermin for that matter.
    • US:  Our house had a horrific mice infestation. There was mice crap in every single cupboard and drawer. Oh – and the previous tenants left multiple piles of petrified dog crap dispersed throughout the entire house as little “welcome” gifts. Just lovely.


  • THEM:  Chipanna always find shiplap in their reno-houses.
    • US:  What is it with WACO and shiplap???? A hundred years ago, people in Grand Rapids had very different ideas of what was “beautiful”. As we removed a hundred years of “decorating” layer by painstaking layer, we found: 8 (yes, EIGHT) layers of crispy wallpaper, ugly faux brick paneling, 6 layers of disgusting, asbestos-laden linoleum and 1 layer of tile that looked like an 8-yr-old installed it. Then – wait for it….. wait for it….. Lo and Behold! We finally discovered some shiplap! However, it was on the walls to the FREAKIN’ BASEMENT – the cold, dark, cinderblock Michigan basement that no one besides myself and spiders will ever see. How poetic.IMG_2200



HOWEVER – and this is why I will love Chipanna forever and ever a-men – it’s the reason we should all be watching more of their show: “Fixer-Upper” is far LESS about fixing up houses, and far MORE a beautiful tribute to marriage.

-Chip and Joanna tackle the notorious marriage-breaking endeavor of home renovation week after week and exemplify how we can love, honor, and respect our marriage partners even in challenging circumstances.  I can’t get enough of them.  They inspire me to be a better wife, person, and Christian.

– I love how they genuinely enjoy each other and laugh at each other.

– I love how Joanna laughs when Chip bloats his stomach (why do all men think this is funny?) Joanna seems to really, genuinely find Chip charming no matter how ridiculous his antics. And soon, I started to find Chip charming, too. But then I realized this: my husband does these silly little things, too. I had just had grown so cold and calloused – I was choosing to roll my eyes at him instead of seeing it’s just my prince trying to impress his princess.   He needs to see me impressed.

– Joanna looks at Chip likes he’s just the most handsome, strong, wise and powerful man she’s ever met. Wives – listen up – I think if we all looked at our husbands the way Joanna ogles Chip, we could probably save a lot of our marriages – because I really believe this is something all men are starving for.

– I love how they listen to each other before speaking.

– I love watching Chip watch Joanna. He looks like he wants to just lick her all-over.

– I love how they share hard news with one another – acknowledging the news stinks, but then, collaborating to find a way to “deal with it”. Ahhhhh – that’s beautiful marriage communication right there.

unknownI think this is genuine Chip and Joanna – that they’re not just “putting on a show.” They are the real deal – and we’d all do well to try to emulate them in our marriages. I pray for Paul and I to have a love for each other that’s a fraction as strong as Chipanna. And THAT, my friends, is the REAL reason I will keep watching Fixer-Upper. We might even have to get cable…


But we will NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER to INFINITY, tackle another Fixer-Upper ourselves.






11 thoughts on “Why Chip and Joanna are BIG, FAT, LIARS (But we should all be watching their show anyway…)

  1. As a fellow Real Life Fixer Upper, I love and appreciate this article so much! May I add one to the list? Demo DAY? Really??? Cause demo day turned into Demo Month for us! And just when we thought we were finished, we discovered more to rip out. And never did I find any ship lap. 🙁 Most interesting thing we found was a stack of razor blades in the bathroom wall.

    1. Ah – YES! Good one! Totally agree! Our demo-day was at least a month-long as well! I think us REAL LIFE fixer-uppers could go on and on about how “Un-sexy” the grind of home renovation really is! But, despite all that, Chip and Joanna sure are darling, aren’t they??? My life is such a paradox.

      1. Sorry it was such a project:( we hope the house still turns out to be a nice home for you. If we had just bought a house we would have probably liked to fix it up or selves -Emily Buckingham

      2. Oh Emily! I hope you don’t think for even a SECOND that any of OUR MESS was your fault! We just TOTALLY underestimated the scope of the work needed to be done and we TOTALLY overestimated our abilities! There’s NO WAY you could have known that you were selling your house to such incompetent ninny’s!!! But curious if you knew anything about the “less than virtuous” activities that were taking place in the house??? hahahaha! Some neighbors called it a “crack house” – others say it was a “meth lab”!!!! No way to know for sure – but at least I haven’t found any strange substances laying around and no one has come to our door trying to buy “stuff”!!! Ahhhhh – but we are having a total blast living on the westside and we are delighted with our choice to move to the city. Stop in sometime and see the work we’ve done (so far) – you won’t recognize the place!!!

  2. My girfriends and I were able to meet Chip about a year ago. We had a girlfriends two days out and we chose to go to Waco. I’m not sure why but I think we had all gotten hooked on “Fixer-Upper. We went to the Magnolia store (which at that time was very small) and then went shopping at different shops. There was one area with a restaurant in the middle with shops all around. We were having lunch and we noticed Chip was there with his two daughters. One brave person got up and asked if he would come over to our table and talk to us. He did and he was very nice. One of us asked him how his shoulder was after he jumped through the wall. At the time he was still hurting a little, but it was so fun to think that he would take the time to visit with us a little. It was fun to watch them interact and we could just feel his love for his daughters. He seemed like a very genuine man with a great smile!

    1. That’s so COOL!!! And I’m not surprised at Chip’s friendliness and willingness to meet you all. He really does seem like the real deal and just an all-around good guy. Thanks for sharing this and confirming what the rest of us “Fixer-Upper” addicts already suspected to be true!

  3. That is the most precious and funny post I’ve ever read! Thank you Cindy! When I had high cable (aka a more expensive plan) I loved watching Chip & Joanna too, and it’s everything you say. They never seemed ‘stressed’ in the way real-lifer’s can’t seem to escape in similar circumstances. But the best thing you could have addressed in this post is their wonderful relationship. It was a timely reminder to lighten up, laugh more and appreciate the quirks and qualities of my husband. Because we will soon be on our way to splendid renovation….

  4. Hi Cindy! After seeing you the other day I had to look you up. Love all of your posts! So good to see “real” and honest in a Christian life. I think I laughed out loud through most of this post re. Chipanna. And I KNOW it’s due to the fact that we just finished a remodel project ourselves. I could relate big time! I used Chip and Johannas name more than once especially when we found out that our garage door hanging system wasn’t going to work for our plan (1/2 way through the installation 😒) and I felt like we just “got the call”…more$$$..ugh.
    Only I didn’t react like I probably would have if a million viewers were tuning in.
    All of this just to thank you for sharing REAL…because our stories are what Jesus uses to speak to others in need…big or small. Most of the time I think it’s just to let them know that they aren’t “The Lone Ranger” 😉 Those words can be a “hug” to someone….a comfort. Thanks for the hugs. And I look forward to reading more.
    Love from me
    Shelly b

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