Down Home Fab: 9 Facts Fans Should Know

Television viewers first met Chelsea Houska back in 2009, when she starred in the second season of MTV's "16 and Pregnant." After she and then-boyfriend Adam Lind welcomed daughter Aubree Skye, the pair continued to open their lives to reality TV cameras in "Teen Mom 2." Over the next few years, viewers watched the couple's rocky relationship play out as they repeatedly broke up and reconciled. When Lind fathered a child with another woman, the pair wound up splitting for good.

In 2014, Chelsea met Cole DeBoer, and the two tied the knot in 2016. Chelsea and Cole went on to welcome three children together, son Watson and daughters Layne and Walker. In 2020, Chelsea announced on Twitter that she and her husband were leaving "Teen Mom 2." However, that wouldn't be the last that viewers saw of the couple.

In December 2022, HGTV announced that the network had enlisted Chelsea and Cole for their own home renovation show. According to the HGTV press release, the new series, titled "Down Home Fab," would debut in January 2023 and follow the pair — who had launched a home-renovation businsses — as they undertook reno projects in their home of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. With Chelsea employing her flair for design and Cole described in the release as "hands-on project manager and jack-of-all-trades," the couple's efforts would be chronicled in six one-hour episodes. 

As the first season has aired and a second season has been ordered by HGTV, you may want to know more about the series. We've got you covered.

How Chelsea Houska and Cole DeBoer went from Teen Mom 2 to HGTV

In 2018, Chelsea Houska and Cole DeBoer purchased a home in Chancellor, South Dakota, which they updated. Within a couple of years, they decided to buy land and build their dream home — a farmhouse in Vermillion, South Dakota. 2020 was a big year for the couple, as they also left "Teen Mom 2" and filed for a business license for a new company, Down Home Deboer's, LLC, and soon after formed two more business entities, Dakota Ln, LLC and DeBoer Holding Company, LLC, as The Sun reported. "We have a design business showing clients how to take risks and go bold with their design," Chelsea noted in a press release.

"We just fell in love with everything ... like home stuff, home decor, the building process, everything about it," Chelsea explained to In Touch. "And so once we got to the end, I was just like, 'Gosh, you know, I don't want this to be it." Building their brand and working with clients to transform their own homes led Chelsea to have another epiphany: she and her husband, she realized, could combine their skills from a decade-plus of reality television with their newfound talent for home renovation, a concept she pitched to HGTV. "It's kinda funny because I slid into their DMs," she revealed in an interview with Heavy. "We were building our house and I just messaged them one day. I deleted it right away because I was so embarrassed that I would do that. That's not typical of me."

As luck would have it, though, that note wound up being seen by the right people at the network. "They just passed the message along and it went up the ladder," she marveled.

Chelsea Houska describes her style as 'South Dakota glam'

In the debut episode of "Down Home Fab," Chelsea Houska described her particular vision of home decor, which combined a rustic feel with some unexpectedly edgy accents. As revealed in a first look for People, Chelsea characterized her style as being "very South Dakota glam." She continued, saying, "I love cowhides and painting things black anything a little bit different." In addition to sharing that style with viewers of "Down Home Fab," Chelsea has also designed a line of wallpaper for those who'd like to emulate that "South Dakota glam" in their own abodes.

To be fair, not every viewer of "Down Home Fab" has demonstrated an eagerness to bring Chelsea's signature look to their homes. Some watching from home responded pretty negatively to one of the show's renos. Chelsea decided to line a ceiling with dark wallpaper imprinted with hundreds of human skull motifs. "I'm sorry, are those SKULLS on the ceiling?" one Redditor wrote. Another referred to the renovation not as South Dakota glam but as "Beetlejuice glam."

Chelsea Houska and Cole DeBoer never imagined they'd be HGTV stars

For Chelsea Houska and Cole DeBoer, the journey to HGTV has been as exciting as it was unexpected. "I remember us binge-watching HGTV," Chelsea recalled in a "Down Home Fab" promo video. "But the fact that it is here, is happening, is absolutely insane," she added. For Cole, the notion that he would somehow make a living from being on television was something he could never have imagined. "I just always knew I was gonna work outside, and do stuff with my hands," he shared. "I would never have thought in a million years I would ever be on TV." His wife, however, did not share the same sentiment. "Actually, I'm not that surprised that I'm on TV," Chelsea joked.

Joining HGTV alongside the network's impressive roster of home-design superstars has been a heady experience for the couple. "It's huge. The family is so supportive. I just feel so proud being a part of HGTV and it was so crazy to see our names on their website," Chelsea said in an interview with Heavy. In fact, when she and Cole first saw themselves lumped among some of those other shows in an on-air promo, they couldn't contain their excitement. "We were like jumping up and down," she said. "And we were like, 'Oh my gosh. It's us mixed in there with all the people who have been on there for years.'"

The Down Home Fab team was born and raised in South Dakota

Both Chelsea Houska and Cole DeBoer are natives of South Dakota. Following their exit from "Teen Mom 2," the couple settled down in the community of Sioux Falls, and as Cole explained in an HGTV interview, Sioux Falls is his hometown. Chelsea, on the other hand, said she was raised about an hour from Sioux Falls. 

Given their respective histories with South Dakota and their decision to put down roots and raise their kids there, it's kind of a no-brainer that the region is also the setting for "Down Home Fab." "I love just highlighting South Dakota and like our home state," Chelsea told In Touch. It's also not entirely surprising that Chelsea's design sensibilities would pull inspiration from her surroundings there. In fact, a big design element she tends to learn on when devising a home's decor are motifs that include skulls and antlers.

"I don't know if it's just the South Dakota in me, but we do have quite a bit of those around our house too," she told In Touch. Their home is situated on a large property in a rural locale, which allows the family to make the most of the warm summer months. "We have a lot of land, and I'm really excited for summer [and] being out here," she added. "And we have a back covered patio that I can not wait to sit out on with the kiddos."

Ratings for Down Home Fab were like a rollercoaster

The debut episode of "Down Home Fab" attracted 678,000 viewers, according to The Sun. The second episode, however, demonstrated a significant increase, with the same outlet reporting a viewership of 850,000 for that episode. The third episode did even better, bringing in 878,000 viewers — an increase of 200,000 over the first episode. 

US TVDB backed up those numbers but also indicated a precipitous drop for the fourth episode, down to 700,000, nearly eradicating all the gains that had been made in viewership. The fifth episode bounced back a bit, with 763,000, before the sixth and final episode of Season 1, which came in slightly lower, with 743,000 viewers. Overall, viewership wasn't bad, but it wasn't nearly enough to rival the network's No. 1 show, "Home Town" (which earns well over a million viewers per episode).

Nevertheless, even the lowest-rated episode of the first season of "Down Home Fab" easily crushed ratings for the previous show to feature Chelsea Houska and Cole DeBoer — an episode of MTV's "Teen Mom: Family Reunion" that aired the same month as the premiere of "Down Home Fab" drew a measly 274,000 viewers.

The required budget for a Down Home Fab reno is pretty surprising

According to the casting page of RTR Media, which produces "Down Home Fab," a homeowner must have a minimum of $75,000 on hand to cover renovation costs in order to be considered for the series. This sum is on par with most of HGTV's shows, although certain series require even more — Jonathan Knight's "Farmhouse Fixer," for example, insists a homeowner be ready to plunk down double that, a minimum of $150,000, according to Gloucester Times.

While $75,000 is hardly chump change, it can also represent an incredible bargain when considering what those homeowners actually get for their money. As The New Yorker reported, that amount is augmented by products and workmanship that are typically deeply discounted by the firms that provide them due to the promotional bump they'll get from appearing on TV. 

Steve Ford of HGTV's "Restored by the Fords" told Then New Yorker that folks whose homes are renovated on HGTV shows "are getting more for their buck than they should" — something he admitted could give the average viewer an unrealistic expectation of how much can actually be achieved with that same $75,000.

The TV exec behind Down Home Fab is an HGTV MVP

"Down Home Fab" is produced by RTR Media, and while the company's name may not ring a bell, it's a given that fans of HGTV will be familiar with some of the other shows it produces. Those series include "Home Town" and its various spinoffs; Jasmine Roth's "Hidden Potential" and "Help! I Wrecked My House"; the Jennifer Todryk-starring "No Demo Reno"; "Flip or Flop Forth Worth"; and Scott McGillivray's long-running hit "Income Property." 

The person behind all those shows is RTR Media CEO and partner Toni Micelli. According to her bio, Micelli is in charge of all development and production at RTR Media. She had previously headed production at 11 Television Canada, where she developed such series as "Destination Fear," "Panic Button," and "Risky Business," along with earlier HGTV series "Design Rivals."

What makes RTR Media so unique among production companies, is that it's entirely female-owned and operated, with a stated goal of that is both deceptively simple yet infinitely tricky: to create TV programming that viewers love. 

Down Home Fab broke an HGTV record

The variable ratings that accompanied the first episodes of "Down Home Fab" didn't scare off HGTV executives, who decided to remain in business with Chelsea Houska and Cole DeBoer. Before the first season even ended, the network ordered a second season, this time with eight episodes, which are set to air in early 2024.

In the announcement, HGTV put the numbers into perspective, revealing "Down Home Fab" raked in more than 6 million total viewers, leading it to become the network's highest-rated new show in nearly a year. "Chelsea and Cole's undeniable on-screen chemistry and enthusiasm for renovation brings in millions of fans every week to HGTV's platforms," Loren Ruch, HGTV head of content, said. "We can't wait to get the ball rolling on a new season, and in the meantime we've got three upcoming episodes and lots more digital content with this dynamic couple in store."

Prior to that announcement, producers slyly contacted the couple to break the news, with the resultant Zoom call — and their excited response — shared on Chelsea's Instagram. "You guys don't understand how much this means to us," Chelsea said in the video while brushing away tears of joy. "Coming from a show like 'Teen Mom,' I feel like it's hard to get people to believe in you ... and so I never felt like anything I did [was taken] seriously, and this just feels so good and I just feel very proud of it. I'm so happy."

Fans can apply for their own Down Home Fab reno

Of all those viewers who watched the first season of "Down Home Fab," some of them (us) likely wondered how to get on the show and have Chelsea Houska and Cole DeBoer redesign their homes.

If you want to appear on Season 2 and have your home renovated by this dynamic duo, you'll need to first fill out a Google form. The three main criteria required by the show are as follows: the home must be located in or around Sioux Falls, South Dakota; it must have at least three or four areas in need of renovation; and homeowners must have secured a minimum renovation budget of $75,000. However, the application form also features a promise to those chosen to appear on the show: "If selected, homeowners will receive numerous benefits from appearing on the show!"

Casting for the 2024 season got underway immediately after news broke that HGTV was renewing "Down Home Fab" for a second season. Additional information can be found on RTR Media's casting page.