At long last, Chip and Joanna Gaines are officially back—this time with their own network, a whole new “Fixer Upper,” and much more.
The Magnolia Network, set to launch on Thursday on Discovery+ and the Magnolia app, features over 150 hours of new programming on all things home. So what makes the Magnolia Network different from the couple’s previous cable-TV home, HGTV?
“This was not going to be the typical network where people send in the casting calls—that’s not what we were looking for,” Joanna explained in a recent press conference. “What we were looking for was people who were just doing things in their everyday life that we thought, ‘Oh, we need to tell that story!’ A lot of what we had to spend most of our time on was actually talking the talent into wanting to be on television. Most of them didn’t want to!”
Another difference with Magnolia is its focus on home improvement projects that are achievable by the average homeowner, and not just high-end remodelers.
“We hope that when they sit down with us they leave feeling inspired, as opposed to kicked in the pants,” added Chip. “I think the world does enough of that for us. We want to create a space and an opportunity for people from all walks of life to come and feel encouraged and hopeful and to live their best lives.”
Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic made living our best lives, as well as launching a new network, a bit of a challenge. Magnolia’s launch was delayed for almost a year not only due to health precautions, but also because it was difficult to get the necessary materials for home renovation.
Nonetheless, these challenges are part of what made these shows more riveting than ever.
“When we look at the family that is now the Magnolia Network, every one of them is unique and different in their own beautiful way,” Joanna said. “But the one thread you see throughout every story, whether that be about cooking or gardening or design, is that idea of risk taking, vulnerability, putting yourself out there, hope. It’s about saying yes and moving forward—it’s about dreaming.”
And they point to their own success as proof.
“If the two of us, from Waco, TX, who don’t own a television…” Joanna said.
“… and are really dumb,” chimed in Chip.
“… can launch a network from Waco, TX, in the middle of summer, I feel like anything’s possible,” Joanna concluded.
‘Fixer Upper’ gets fixed up
Chip and Jo even adjusted the format of their trademark show, now called “Fixer Upper: Welcome Home,” to meet pandemic-related challenges.
“It feels different in a lot of ways,” Joanna explained. “One is, because of the timeline, we decided we couldn’t go through that whole timeline of people who hadn’t bought their house yet. This time, homeowners already have a house that they’ve already bought.”
In other words, no more goofy names for the houses buyers are considering. The Gaineses roll up their sleeves and get right to work helping homeowners realize their renovation dreams.
“Most of the time they say, ‘I’m overwhelmed, I need your help,’” Jo said. “So from that point we take the keys. We say don’t come back until eight weeks later.”
To give viewers a little taste of what’s in store, Magnolia also rounded up some of its new show hosts for the press conference, so they could reminisce about their greatest challenges and top tips for homeowners during the pandemic and beyond. All were surprisingly forthcoming about what they’ve been through this past year. Here are some of the highlights.
The biggest challenge of renovating in a pandemic
Candis and Andy Meredith, who transformed a 20,000-square-foot school into a home for their family of nine on their show “Home Work,” faced many changes along the way.
“Our biggest challenge has been how long it has taken, so much longer than we thought,” said Candis. “Part of that has been due to the pandemic.”
During this epic remodeling job, the family had to get creative to keep their house livable. Stuck without a kitchen sink for about two years, they washed dishes in a claw-foot tub. They also had nine people sharing one bathroom—with one daughter and six sons, they solved this traffic jam by creating a locker room for their boys.
“They have urinals,” Andy said. “What teenage boy wouldn’t be happy with urinals?”
How to finish a renovation despite supply shortages
Interior designer Brian Patrick Flynn from “Mind for Design” noted that, due to supply chain issues, the average lead time for the delivery of furniture or materials stretched to nearly unbearable lengths.
“If you order it in July, you’re lucky to get it by Christmas,” he said.
Don’t want to wait? If possible, he recommended picking up pieces yourself—as he’s done, sending crew members from Georgia to Ohio to get the furniture he needed to complete his episodes.
The Merediths also found a way to avoid a stalled makeover.
“We rely heavily on antiques stores and local classifieds for furniture,” Candis explained. “Where we would have bought a new piece, we’ve leaned heavily into finding a vintage piece or something lightly used, as well as recovering a lot of things with fabrics and using fabrics for nontraditional purposes.”
The secret to adding history to a home
Woodworking expert and longtime Gaines collaborator Clint Harp, star of “Restoration Road With Clint Harp,” loves adding a sense of history to a home. Even if your house is brand-new, you can still pull this off by adding upgrades made from older materials.
“There are a lot of things you can add, whether that be windows, interior windows, maybe you want to do old doors,” Harp said. “Or maybe you want to take some massive old beams and incorporate those into your vaulted ceiling.”
He also recommended using reclaimed wood to fashion accent walls or even furniture, as he’s done many times on “Fixer Upper.”
“You can make absolutely gorgeous furniture out of reclaimed wood and put that into your house,” said Harp, who even encouraged dumpster diving and scouring demo sites.
“If you want to build some wood furniture, go find some wood in a burn pile and get to work!”
The new ‘neutral’ colors beyond gray and white
“Mind for Design” star Flynn is known for using vibrant colors in the rooms he designs, and seldom misses a chance to pop it up.
“When it comes to kitchen cabinets, most people default to white or gray, something that will be around forever, and I’m guilty. I have an all-white kitchen,” he confessed. “But when it comes to using color with kitchen cabinetry, I feel you’ll never get tired of a blue gray. Blue gray is considered a new neutral—but at the same time, it’s not something that is so different that you would get tired of it quickly.”
Other colors that pop that you can still live with for a long time include “sage greens, really, really washed out buttery yellows, and even some very faded terra cottas,” he said. “If you stick with those tones, you get just a hint of color, but also add some personality. I feel if you stick with white or gray, you’re missing an opportunity to show some personality.”
Design trend to avoid
Flynn is not a fan of design fads. When asked what trends to avoid, he responded, “All of them!”
“One of the things we talk about a lot on my show is timelessness and making classic choices,” Flynn said. “I try to avoid trends, but I try to embrace things that have consistently come back in style. That way you’re only spending your money once, and that’s a big thing on our show. If you’re going to spend 20, 30, 40, 50 thousand dollars, you don’t want to do it again in five years, so trends are a tricky situation.”
How to dabble in DIY
During the pandemic, many people have been inclined to pick up a hammer and some nails and try their hand at DIY. For this, Harp had some great advice.
“First of all, throw away any fear or thought of failure,” he said. “I want you to be proud of whatever you cobble together.”
Still, he warned that you don’t want to start with anything too complicated that will likely defeat you.
“Do not go try and build a canoe—it’s a little much to start out with,” Harp said with a laugh. “Build a little step stool for your kids so they can get up and brush their teeth. Build a bench, or build a table. One of the first things I did was build a couple of tall desks.”
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