Joanna And Chip Gaines' Biggest Fixer Upper Regrets

America's most wholesome home improvement sweethearts first captivated HGTV viewers and modern farmhouse enthusiasts with the release of their show, "Fixer Upper," in 2013. The duo secured the eyes and hearts of fans with their mission to breathe life back into Waco, Texas, by renovating and remodeling some of the pre-existing homes in the area to reflect their signature style and create picture-perfect residences for individuals, couples, and families seeking to build their lives in Chip and Joanna Gaines' beloved small city.

"Fixer Upper" became a nearly immediate hit, boasting some of the highest ratings of any HGTV series. Chip and Joanna used their newfound traction to expand their brand into a multifaceted business model that now includes their own TV network, a market square in downtown Waco, multiple vacation rentals, a magazine, partnerships with giant retailers, and countless other projects. Their immersive expansion in a previously niche aesthetic has made them a household name, even for those not avid fans of renovation television.

With growth, though, comes decision-making, which is almost always accompanied by mistakes. Throughout the show's run, Chip and Jo made a few missteps and faced disappointment along the way. Here are some of their biggest regrets.

Involving their kids in the show

The Gaineses' direction for "Fixer Upper" had been holistic and family-centric from the start. The entire premise of the show was to take the worst house in the best neighborhood and turn it into a family's dream forever home. Being new to the world of reality television — and the risks involved — it made sense at the time for the couple to involve their then four children, Drake, Ella Rose, Duke, and Emmie Kay, who were 9, 7, 5, and 3 when the show launched in 2013 (the couple's youngest, Crew, was born in 2018). This unassuming move to engage their own family in the project proved unproblematic in the show's first seasons, but as their kids grew older and more recognizable, discomfort and regret began to set in.

When interviewed on the Kennebec Cabin Company's podcast, "From the Woodshed," Chip revealed, "We were kind of naive and dumb, really, to be frank enough to be like, 'Let's have the kids be involved." Gaines went on to explain that he felt uncomfortable with the knowledge that his children were being noticed by fans of the show due to this early decision. Chip went on to champion the importance of informed consent, saying, "I don't know that I want my kids to be visible in that way — unless they want to be visible."

Missing out on important life moments for work

Though the rewards accompanying being on the throne of a massive home renovation empire are plentiful, the immense responsibility of maintaining their reign hasn't been easy. 

Juggling family life and a career is hard enough for your everyday 9-5ers, but managing multiple kids, renovation projects, and a TV show seems impossible. Although the couple made a conscious effort to be present for the children, Chip Gaines told People back in 2017, "[The kids] would ask, 'Mom and Dad, do you guys have to film again today? When is this going to be over?" In a blog post, Joanna Gaines also touched on the subject of guilt as a working parent. She described how her kids would cling to her as she walked out the door and begged her to stay home with them.

Joanna further highlighted the toll of strictly budgeting her time on As she wrote, "When I look back at my life, I can see how, gradually, I began choosing efficiency over everything. Even things that I knew deep in my bones were worthy of my time."

Overworking themselves to the point of burnout

Though the Gaineses were, and still are, well aware of how lucky they are to have such a lucrative career doing what they love, they still felt the extreme pressure and difficulty of a rigorous production schedule on top of their many other responsibilities as parents and business owners.

According to People, Chip and Joanna were filming almost year-round during the show's initial HGTV run. The couple started to feel the significant onset of burnout toward the middle of their series — specifically between Seasons 3 and 4, as Chip revealed on "From the Woodshed." When asked how many "Fixer Upper" renovations were happening simultaneously during filming, Chip explained that they typically tried to keep the number of active projects between three to five homes, though that number escalated to 10 when construction and production schedules clashed during some seasons. "That expedited our need to take a break," Chip admitted. "I mean, we were burnt out," he added. "We were exhausted."

Knowing some of the homes they renovated are not being lived in

The Gaineses marketed "Fixer Upper" as a means of bringing down-home family values back into popular culture. They structured the show so that viewers could see snippets of families putting down roots in Waco and living in their newly renovated homes. However, contrary to their intentions, the picture Chip and Joanna painted of this fairytale, dream-do-come-true, forever-home scenario is not always the most accurate portrayal of what actually happens to the homes they renovate.

Some "Fixer Upper" homes were never lived in by the families featured on the show, and others were only lived in briefly before the owners moved out. Homes like the Shotgun House, the School House, and the Chicken House are all listed as short-term rentals on Airbnb, as of this writing. The Gaineses were unhappy to hear that their work was being used for profit, and they weren't the only ones. Some Waco residents have criticized these short-term rentals. "Noise, overuse of common resources, security, and the insurance risk of strangers are the biggest complaints we hear from neighbors of those who rent out their homes," Jeremy Welch, a home-sharing expert, told

In 2016, Chip and Jo decided to make a change. On behalf of the couple, a Magnolia representative for Magnolia stated, "We are going to be more strict with our contracts involving 'Fixer Upper' clients moving forward."

Being pigeonholed as strictly modern farmhouse renovators

Chip and Joanna Gaines certainly have a distinctive style that they are credited with popularizing, but just because they most frequently employ the modern farmhouse aesthetic doesn't mean that it is the only look they can successfully execute.

Chip Gaines explained his apprehension regarding the fading relevance of the trend when speaking with in 2020, "Everybody knows this is a 10-year trend, and the trend started five years ago. We're nervous about that." But the Magnolia team isn't a one-trick pony. They have already begun to step away from the semi-rustic farmhouse style that is now fazing out of favor with the masses. "We don't want to be pigeonholed into that concept," Chip explained.

In the same interview, Joanna also explained that they're capable of executing other designs. The most notable example of their style expansion lies within the Wacoan castle purchased by the couple in 2019, which is, in Joanna's words, "anything but farm." Additionally, they've made some slight changes to their own house. However, as Joanna explained in a fall 2019 Magnolia blog post, "Because we live in a farmhouse, our home will always have that foundational aesthetic." Nevertheless, she revealed that fans will "see that a sweeping shift in our house has been incorporating styles other than farmhouse that I tend to gravitate towards, like modern, rustic, and industrial, with the goal of creating a more refined overall look."

Facing a lawsuit from friends

As savvy businesspeople, Joanna and Chip Gaines are no strangers to the messy side of fame and fortune. As a result of their rise to HGVT stardom, they were hit close to home when old friends and business partners of Chip brought a lawsuit against the couple.

In 2017, Chip Gaines was sued by his former business partners, John Lewis and Richard Clark, for pressuring them to sell their shares in Magnolia Realty in 2013. Lewis and Clark were not made aware that the Gaineses had secured their place with HGTV and claimed that they intentionally withheld the information from them. Instead of spreading that new wealth between himself and his fellow shareholders, Lewis and Clark argue that the couple opted to monopolize ownership of the business while they were still under the impression that their shares were not valuable. In response to the lawsuit, Chip voiced his disappointment via Twitter, writing, "Fyi: Ive had the same cell # 15 yrs.. same email for 20 yrs. No one called or emailed? 4 years later "friends" reach out via lawsuit..."

The Gaineses' attorney, Jordan Mayfield, spoke to his clients' innocence in the matter in a comment given to People. "We are confident that these claims will be found to be meritless, and it is disappointing to see people try to take advantage of the hard work and success of Chip and Joanna Gaines," he said. Despite his former partners' contest, the case was dismissed a few years later.

Mishandling dangerous substances

Fans of renovation television are familiar with the portrayal of "demo days," wherein the show hosts partake in the tearing down and ripping out of outdated home features to make way for future improvements. Chip Gaines was often shown amidst the dust and chaos, wielding a mighty sledgehammer as he prepared a blank canvas for Joanna's artistic vision. What many fans did not realize, though, is that at least 33 of those homes contained lead paint.

As a result, the Gaineses were fined $40,000 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for improperly handling the removal of lead paint from homes, many of which were built prior to the banning of lead-based paint in 1978. As required by the couple's settlement with the EPA, the Gaineses procured certifications in lead paint removal for their business and shared messages on social media that explained the hazardous nature of handling lead and instructed viewers to always enlist the help of certified professionals when handling dangerous substances.

In an expression of regret for the oversight, the couple promised to give $160,000 in an effort to properly remove lead paint from other homes in Waco. As a Magnolia spokesperson told People, "To take its commitment [to the EPA] a step further, Magnolia Homes made the decision to implement a compliance management program in which it adopted an enhanced renovation record-keeping checklist for use by Magnolia Homes staff and subcontractors."

Being accused of having anti-LGBTQ views

Though the Gaineses tend to steer clear of talk that could be construed as polarizing, they found themselves embroiled in controversy in 2016 when the pastor of their church spoke openly about his position against same-sex marriage and rights for people of the LGBTQ community. The issue was only exacerbated when Chip and Joanna were recorded conversing with the pastor, Jimmy Seibert, in which he describes the couple as his "close friends."

The Gaineses admitted to feeling deeply hurt by the public's belief that their connection to Antioch Community Church and its pastor meant that they would judge others based on their sexual orientation. Joanna spoke on the subject of such biases in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "The accusations that get thrown at you, like you're a racist or you don't like people in the LGBTQ community, that's the stuff that really eats my lunch — because it's so far from who we really are," the designer said. "That's the stuff that keeps me up."

In a letter written by Chip at the end of 2016, he revealed, "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." 

Having to fake being funny for the camera

Chip Gaines' easy wit and carefree attitude branded him as an endearing character in the eyes of many "Fixer Upper" viewers, especially in the show's earlier seasons. It didn't take long for the producers to notice that Chip's personality was a substantial draw for viewers. They began asking Chip to give witty remarks and make silly jokes on cue while filming the show, and he began to feel that that side of him was being forced out. In a 2019 interview with Cowboys & Indians magazine, Chip explained, "It's like if I put a camera in your face and said, 'Hey, say something funny.' Or ... 'Hey, be smart.' I just struggled with that environment. Especially at the end of it."

Chip wasn't the only aggrieved party regarding his forced jokes. Some "Fixer Upper" fans remarked how Chip's natural goofiness had been turned into a gimmick that was uncomfortable to sit through. "He was so obnoxious I stopped watching," one former fan wrote on social media. "He acted juvenile," wrote another in a Facebook comment. "It spoiled the show and the creativity of their work."

In his interview with the magazine, Chip elaborated on the struggle between his personality traits and the demands of filming a reality TV show. "I'm an authentic, sincere person," he explained. "So, as long as things are natural and organic, I'm in my element." He went on to say that toward the end of the show's run on HGTV, the dialogue began to feel more scripted, which left him feeling "caged" and led the couple toward their decision to stop filming the show to pursue their other business interests.

Being the subject of gossip

Chip and Joanna Gaines realized that once they became famous, people began writing about them in a manner that was not always positive. Joanna wrote on the subject of social media bullying and misrepresentation in a blog post on the Magnolia website and confessed that although most of the wildly untrue rhetoric about her life and family that arises from the internet is so ridiculous that she can't help but be amused, there are still moments when she comes across content that leaves her feeling deeply injured. "Every now and then, a headline or story will strike a nerve regardless of how off the mark it may be," she wrote. "Those times are harder to reconcile because we're human, and the idea that 'it's just part of the territory' doesn't make untrue accusations any less painful."

Jo went on to encourage readers not to be bogged down by the negativity from outside sources and instead act with compassion and trust that there is more good than bad in the world.

Getting lost in the fame

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2018, Chip and Joanna Gaines opened up about the impact that the show had on their lives, both positive and negative. Chip confessed that he relied heavily on his wife to keep him from going off the rails amidst his fumbling with their newfound fame. "She is so incredibly wise, so incredibly grounded — all the things that you just described, is who Joanna is," he said.

Chip went on to say that the changes their popularity brought on by the show didn't cause the same shift in Joanna as it did in him, and he admitted, "I lost a part of myself that was really... it was sad. I would say it took me a year or two while I was still filming to try to grapple with what exactly it was that I was losing." The couple went on to spend a year out of the limelight, which Chip said was important as it allowed him "hunker down and really kind of try to unpack what it was about fame that seemed so incompatible with [his] personality."