As one of the co-stars of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper”, Joanna Gaines is one of the most recognizable faces in home design. Where did Gaines grow up?
Joanna Gaines grew up in Texas, though she was born in Kansas. Her father was half German, half Lebanese and her mother was Korean. She attended Baylor University in Waco and studied Communications before meeting her future husband Chip and founding the show “Fixer Upper” in 2013.
For more on Joanna Gaines and how she and Chip became stars on HGTV, read on.
Life Before Chip
Joanna Gaines was born Joanna Lea Stevens on April 19, 1978, in Kansas but soon moved to Texas with her family.
Her parents met in 1969 when her father, Jerry, who has German and Lebanese ancestry, was stationed in Korea. Her mother, Nan, was a Korean woman and Joanna has described their story as “one you hear about in the movies”, saying that they became an example of how to overcome the odds and love each other despite differences.
Her father owned an automotive business and Joanna’s earliest appearances in front of the camera were appearing in commercials for the company. She enjoyed the experience greatly and it inspired her to pursue a career in broadcast journalism, attending Baylor University and earning a degree in communications.
This included a journalism internship in New York but after graduating, Joanna decided she had lost interest in her chosen career path, feeling as though she had wasted four years.
Fortunately, her experiences and degree would later come in handy when she became a TV star on “Fixer Upper”.
Ironically, Joanna and her future husband, Chip, both attended Baylor University, though they were only on campus at the same time for one semester in the fall of 1998 before Chip graduated.
They never met during their time as students but Chip’s marketing degree would later combine beautifully with Joanna’s communications expertise in becoming an entrepreneurial dream team.
They actually met three years later in 2001, after Chip visited Joanna’s father’s auto shop. Chip saw a photo of Joanna on the wall and was immediately smitten. When he returned later and met Joanna in person, he called her the following day to set up a date.
Things got off on the wrong foot, with Chip arriving more than an hour late for their first date and then waiting more than a month to call her. Chip claims his delay in contacting Joanna was due to a bet with his roommate about who could go longer before calling their dates back.
Luckily, this rocky start didn’t deter Joanna in the long run and they were married on May 31, 2003, in Waco.
Combining their DIY and project managing skills, Joanna and Chip started remodeling and flipping homes soon after, both for themselves and clients. Before “Fixer Upper”, they had already worked on more than a hundred homes.
Their success caught the eye of High Noon Entertainment and the producers of “Cake Boss”, who offered them their own show on HGTV.
The premise of “Fixer Upper” was simple: Joanna and Chip would show the clients three homes in Texas, each in a different state of disrepair, and the client would select which one they wanted. The overall budget would generally be in the region of $200,000 with at least $30,000 of that spent on renovation work.
Once they had the go-ahead, Joanna would use her eye for home design in choosing the decor and feel of the home, while Chip handled the heavier duty work as lead contractor.
In all, “Fixer Upper” ran for five seasons between May 2013 and April 2018. However, this wasn’t the end of the show’s legacy as it was followed by a spin-off show, “Fixer Upper: Behind the Design”.