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:
- 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.
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.
I 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.