The Untold Truth Of HGTV's Fixer To Fabulous

We're all about Fixer to Fabulous. While Chip and Joanna Gaines may have shuffled off HGTV as they prepare to launch their own Magnolia Network, viewers have been filling the Fixer Upper-sized void in their hearts with the new series, Fixer to FabulousPremiering in the fall of 2019, this new show follows Dave and Jenny Marrs on their mission to revive Arkansas heritage homes to their former splendor.

According to HGTV's press material, the husband-wife team — who are also parents of five — have constructed about 300, custom-built new homes while running Marrs Developing, which "specializes in the renovation and restoration of historic homes in the Northwest Arkansas area." Their differing approaches to the projects they undertake complement each other, with Jenny described as the creative force, and Dave the craftsman and builder.

Since returning with its second season in October 2020, Fixer to Fabulous is attracting new fans with every airing, as more and more viewers check in on the couple's home-renovating antics. Given that the Marrs are relative newcomers to television, there's much about this fascinating pair that viewers may not yet know. Read on to delve into the untold truth of Fixer to Fabulous.

Fixer to Fabulous is a ratings winner for HGTV

Ratings for the debut season of HGTV's Fixer to Fabulous proved to be strong enough to warrant a second. In February 2020, HGTV issued a press release announcing the network had ordered 13 more episodes, after the first season attracted more than 17.9 million total viewers. 

When the second season of Fixer to Fabulous arrived in October, the network's faith in the show paid off. In addition to bringing in an audience of more than 3.9 million total viewers, according to another news release, the new season's premiere episode also performed well in several key demographics. Meanwhile, HGTV also celebrated the new season's debut as "the #1 cable premiere among upscale P25-54 and upscale M25-54." "Dave and Jenny's witty banter, keen design sense and special family dynamic have elevated them as HGTV stars to watch," HGTV president Jane Latman said in a statement. She added that millions of viewers have been inspired by the Marrs' renovation projects, as they're also heading to their social media pages to learn more about the family.

The Marrs promised the second season of Fixer to Fabulous would be bigger and better

Ahead of the premiere of the second season of HGTV's Fixer to Fabulous, stars Jenny and Dave Marrs teased what fans of the show could look forward to. "As HGTV does, you never go backwards," Dave explained in an interview with Celebrity Page TV. "We're just building on what we did in season one. It's bigger, it's better, it's cooler reveals."

According to Dave, the new season of Fixer to Fabulous also brought additional challenges — such as renovating a lake property — that took the couple out of their comfort zone. "We're in some places we never even thought we could get to," he continued. 

In the midst of it all, added Jenny, the couple are also raising five kids, and she's happy for the "help" that she's receiving. "You can't do it all. You can't do it all alone," she shared. "You need good people around you, and thankfully we have that."

Fixer to Fabulous' Dave and Jenny Marrs initially turned down HGTV

When Dave and Jenny Marrs were first approached by HGTV about Fixer to Fabulous, it was part of the network's wider effort seeking stars for a new home-reno concept show set in small-town USA. "We thought it was spam!" Jenny said of the email they'd received.

As the couple told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, their first instinct was to decline. "We didn't really have an interest," Dave said. "And I was just worried. I was thinking, 'Small town? They're going to try and portray it as this backwoods thing.'"

A producer flew to visit them in person in Bentonville, Ark., assuring them that the goal was not "portraying the area negatively." After agreeing to film a "sizzle reel," the couple moved on, assuming that's the last they'd hear of it — until the producer got in touch to reveal HGTV had approved filming a pilot. Suddenly, the Marrs family found themselves trailed by a camera crew wherever they went. "We really did not think that was going to happen," admitted Jenny. "We had this nice, quiet little life," added Dave, admitting it was "interrupted in a good way." 

The show wasn't always called Fixer to Fabulous

When HGTV first announced it was filming a TV pilot with Dave and Jenny Marrs in Bentonville, Ark., that pilot was not called Fixer to Fabulous. As Arkansas' Talk Business & Politics reported at the time, the pilot was originally titled Almost Home. "Dave and Jenny Marrs are renovating one historic house at a time, until it's almost home!" was the tagline. "This was totally out of the blue for us," Marrs shared in late 2017. "We were proceeding very cautiously... we wanted to make sure the area is shown in a good light."

A few months after the pilot aired, TB&P reported that HGTV had picked up Almost Home, ordering eight one-hour episodes. Taping, Jenny said, would begin in spring 2018 and continue through to the end of the summer. As TB&P pointed out, the show that was later renamed Fixer to Fabulous was one of several new HGTV series set in small towns throughout America. "We're keeping our focus squarely on developing the kind of content that attracts new viewers and encourages them to sample the programming on our networks," said John Feld, HGTV senior vice president for programming.

Jenny Marrs from Fixer to Fabulous shares design inspiration in her blog

Viewers of HGTV's Fixer to Fabulous who still want more after the end of an episode can head over to Jenny Marrs' blog, which she's dubbed Blessings & Raindrops. It shouldn't be surprising that Jenny tends to put an inspirational spin on her blog posts, such as one recalling the day that Dave led her and their children "up the rickety steps leading to the back door of an old farmhouse he had been asked to demolish." 

Going from room to room, she wrote, Dave shared his vision for each space, and she admitted her "affection for the old home was undeniable." That structure was then picked up and moved to the outskirts of town, where they proceeded to "restore it and build our life inside those four walls."

While the task of transforming the decrepit farmhouse into their family home appeared to be a daunting one, Jenny shared the lesson she'd learned from the process. "Whatever seemingly insurmountable task you're facing today, just remember: take it one step at a time. Don't get overwhelmed with the big picture... just focus on the next step on the path."

Why does Fixer to Fabulous handyman Chase Looney wear an eyepatch?

The series pilot of HGTV's Fixer to Fabulous – then called Almost Home – introduced handyman Chase Looney, who assists Jenny and Dave Marrs on their renovation projects. Hardcore fans may have noticed that in subsequent episodes, Chase is wearing an eyepatch over his left eye, which wasn't the case in the pilot.

As Chase wrote in a post on his now-defunct website (vis Distractify), just a few days after completing the pilot he was igniting a fireworks display to celebrate the Fourth of July. After lighting the last of five mortars, he wrote, the "concussion" from the one he'd lit previously tipped the one he'd just lit. "When the explosion went off, I remember everything stopped," he wrote, recalling "a deafening boom" and "burst of light."

Rushed to a nearby hospital, Chase was told he'd lost his eye and that the scarring on his face might be permanent. He then informed Dave and Jenny. "I told them, 'I don't think I have the face for TV anymore,'" he wrote. "Through tears and laughter they reassured me I never had a face for TV anyway."

Fixer to Fabulous is no stranger to product placement

Product placement is a thing in most reality shows, and it's been going on for a long time. When castaways on Survivor's second season back in 2001 were rewarded with Doritos, it wasn't random, but part of a sponsorship campaign that went beyond simply airing commercial spots by integrating the product within the show itself. 

It's a phenomenon that many viewers may not even notice, and one to which HGTV's Fixer to Fabulous is not immune. Forty6Eleven is a firm specializing in landing product-placement deals for clients, and boasts on its website of finding particular success sneaking items manufactured by "its home improvement and home decor clients" into the renos documented on Fixer to Fabulous

Among these were manufacturers of lighting fixtures and tiles. "We just love Dave and Jenny Marrs and their spectacular designs of each of the houses," said Forty6Eleven founder Nina Waters in a press release. "Each design really brings out the best in each of our clients' products — whether it's the tile choices or the lighting — we are proud to be a part of this show for a second season."

Fixer to Fabulous focuses on heritage homes

While Dave and Jenny Marrs' company, Marrs Developing, renovates existing homes as well as constructs new domiciles, that latter part of their business isn't something that viewers will see on Fixer to Fabulous. That's simply because transforming rundown houses into lovingly-renovated dream homes makes for better television than a new build. 

As Jenny told At Home in Arkansas, both she and her husband have a real affinity for older homes. "Historic homes were built with such care and attention to detail," she explained. "The builders focused on using all available space and local resources to build these homes." She added that each home has its own unique character, unlike new homes that are built to be cost-effective, thereby lacking real charm.

As for how they come up with the designs they utilize for their Fixer to Fabulous renovations, Jenny says their esthetic inspiration comes from such eclectic sources as modern European design and traditional New England homes. "I would say our personal style is a touch Scandinavian with elements of California Coastal," she continued. "[We're] very focused on natural light and beautiful spaces that are functional for modern families."

Fixer to Fabulous expanded its reach with companion show Life on Marrs

As HGTV's Fixer to Fabulous continued to find success alongside other renovation shows like Flip or Flop and its spinoffs, another opportunity presented itself. In October 2020, Jenny Marrs took to Instagram to make a special announcement. "We have some other exciting #fixertofab news we can finally share!" she wrote in the caption, accompanying a photo of herself and hubby Dave sitting on their front porch while being filmed. "HGTV created a behind-the-scenes look into season one in a new show called Life on Marrs that will air every Tuesday night this fall!"

Jenny described Life on Marrs as "a super fun show where Dave and I spill the beans on what it was really like to film each of the season one episodes." She concluded by thanking the viewers who made the show successful enough to warrant a spinoff. "We are truly humbled and grateful for the way you've welcomed us into your living rooms," she added.

Having their lives filmed constantly for Fixer to Fabulous took some getting used to

Dave and Jenny Marrs hadn't had any experience in front of the camera when they were tapped to film the pilot for Fixer to Fabulous. As Jenny admitted in an interview with the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, having a camera crew following them around took some getting used to — especially when it came to the couple's five children. "When they film with the kids, that's always unpredictable," she revealed. She added that she tends to forget that she's wearing a microphone, too.

Jenny recalled one awkward moment when they were asked film a scene where they walk out of the door. What should have been a simple shot was complicated by the children, as "somebody was always crying. I said, 'You guys! All I need is five minutes! Just act like normal people, OK?' And then I was like, 'Oh, you can hear all of that, can't you? Well, now you know.'"

However, as they got more accustomed to being filmed, Dave said he forgets there's a crew at all. "I think you just get used to it after a while," he told About You.

Dave and Jenny Marrs use Fixer to Fabulous to promote their philanthropic efforts

Long before they ever appeared on TV screens on Fixer to Fabulous, Jenny and Dave Marrs had been heavily involved in philanthropy. One of their charitable efforts is The Berry Farm, which features an event venue for weddings and other special occasions, along with a you-pick blueberry field. The proceeds fund the Help One Now charity in the African nation of Zimbabwe. The goal is to "provide resources to train and empower teenagers and young adults to transition into adulthood with the skills that they need to succeed."

According to Melissa Halford, event coordinator at Berry Farm, being able to promote their charitable endeavors on television was a big reason why the couple agreed to participate in Fixer to Fabulous. "I think, from the beginning, they had the thought in their mind that this might help get their story out," she told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette

As Jenny explained, even if they "became a laughingstock on television" but could attain "a little more publicity for the nonprofit... then this would all be worth it."

Time was the biggest challenge Dave and Jenny Marrs faced on Fixer to Fabulous

As viewers of Fixer to Fabulous have certainly witnessed, the projects that Dave and Jenny Marrs take on for the show are certainly not without their obstacles. 

Discussing their experiences filming the first season, Jenny told Almost You that the biggest challenge they faced had to do with the strict timeframes imposed due to the demands of television. "It was really tight, just because of the production schedule," she revealed. "We had a few weeks, for the most part, from start to finish, and if something did go wrong..."

That, Jenny said, proved to be the case when an item needed to complete a renovation was cracked when it arrived. "We were in trouble because we didn't have enough time to get another one," she continued. " And that happens often, whether it's lights or tile or if we find something in the house that we have to completely redo." Given their time constraints, Dave and Jenny often have to get creative at the last minute.