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Fixer Upper Season 3, Episode 4

by Joanna Gaines
Published on December 23, 2015

If you saw this week’s Christmas special, then you’re finally “in” on the big announcement! We are opening the “Magnolia House” in Spring of 2016 and hope you’ll come visit Waco soon to stay in our Bed and Breakfast. This project was definitely unique for the show in that Chip and I were our own clients. This was special for us because, in the end, we got to reveal it to our parents followed by dinner with the family.

This home is located in the charming downtown McGregor area, about twenty minutes outside of Waco. I’ve always been drawn to this historic area, and its many little antique shops, local restaurants, and the general grassroots feel of the town. We actually discovered it when we showed it to the Ferguson family on real estate day, who you met on Fixer Upper last week. From the first moment I saw it, I could envision bringing it back to life. I loved the story of the house.

It was built in the late 1800s and only one family has owned it since it was originally built. We recently found this old picture one of the family members gave us, and I just loved seeing the house when there were still horse and carriages and dirt roads. There is something about the story of the past that gets me every time. When I first shared my vision with Chip, he thought I was crazy. Once I took him by the house and shared the business idea and design vision, he quickly jumped on board.

Many of you have come to Waco to visit the shop, and I thought what better thing to offer than a Magnolia home you can stay in while you’re here? The design inspiration for this house was taken from my own home. I wanted it to feel like our farmhouse so when guests stay here they feel especially welcome. Because this is a vacation home, the majority of the pieces I chose are from my Magnolia Home furniture line. I want guests to have the full Magnolia experience when staying here.

We started this renovation in the kitchen, where the original footprint was already perfect for what I had in mind. I got rid of the upper-cabinets and had open shelving installed, so that each kitchen necessity would be easily spotted and accessible for our visitors. I left the exposed shiplap as the backsplash because I loved the way it looked in the kitchen. Since the space felt wide open and light, I thought we could incorporate a classic black paint on the lower cabinets. Chip installed (his specialty and our favorite) concrete countertops, an apron sink, and updated light fixtures. We installed reclaimed pine floors and saved as much of the original shiplap walls as we could and patched the rest. We also supplemented new trim with the original unique trim-corners and gave the walls a fresh coat of white paint.

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The dining room needed minor cosmetic updates, the biggest one was opening up both doorways and creating a large cased opening. I added a glass transom since this is a detail you typically see in hundred-year-old houses. We added new windows and an exterior door that would allow more natural light to come into the room. The original character in the space was unbeatable. From the marble fireplace surround to the built ins and the trim corners...it was a room that was well lived-in and loved. I filled the room with black accents to make a bold statement and provide contrast against the white shiplap. We refinished and patched the original floors and incorporated a few pieces I salvaged at local antiques shops.

In the living room, the largest project we tackled was the wall we took down to open the space up to the rest of the bottom floor. In removing the wall, we had to take down an original fireplace that served as a cosmetic detail for the room. You will see this mantle again in another project we tackle on this property towards the end of Fixer Upper’s season (it’s a good one). We also patched the original shiplap behind the dated wallpaper, refinished the original hardwood floors, and completely restructured the staircase to make it more accessible to the entire bottom floor. We had our welder build the custom railing on the staircase, and I added a reading nook to give the space a cozy feel. This nook is honestly one of my favorite things about this house—it’s fun to take dead space and make it functional and pretty! I incorporated some antique corbels that framed the space perfectl, and the original leaded windows above the front and back entrance doors added the perfect touch of charm.

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The downstairs bathroom received a full facelift. We added a classic patterned cement tile that gave the space interest, new fixtures and hardware, a subway-tiled shower, and a new mirror. We opted to leave the original pedestal sink and added easily accessed open shelving I designed and had installed above the freestanding tub.

The downstairs master bedroom had its original fireplace in tact, which I loved. We continued the hardwoods into this space, installed a new exterior door, added fresh drywall and paint, and restored the original trim.

The downstairs twin bedroom was one of my favorite spaces in the home. I really wanted this room to feel light and airy, and, if you have seen pictures of my farmhouse, you will notice the room looks identical to my little girls' room at home. We painted this space to match the downstairs master and added hanging galvanized trays as side tables for a little something unexpected. I found the perfect antique chandelier to add a whimsical touch to the space and finished it off with pretty florals and linens.

Upstairs, the first room I redesigned was this sweet little coffee nook. This room already had plumbing connected, so I immediately envisioned this to be a place guests would gather for a fresh cup of coffee during their stay. I wanted it to feel cozy and homey, so we kept it small, patched the shiplap, and added new cabinetry and fixtures. We painted the cabinets a unique teal-green color and did concrete countertops to match the kitchen.

The upstairs loft room is the perfect transitional space with easy access to the small twin rooms connected to it. I mixed industrial with traditional when designing this space and choosing furniture pieces from the Magnolia Home line. This canopy bed is one of my girl’s favorite in the line, so I chose it for this space with tall ceilings. We patched and painted the original shiplap, refinished the original floors, and added a sitting area for plenty of small gathering places.

Something else fun we discovered about the home was that the small twin rooms upstairs were used to put soldiers up overnight who were traveling through town. This is one of three twin rooms on the top floor, where soldiers were put up for the night back in the early 1900s. These spaces were so unique that I had to keep them small and cozy, as they were originally intended. We added fresh drywall, a coat of paint, sconces, refinished the floors, and twin beds to each room. It seemed that each and every corner of this home had a story to tell, and I couldn’t wait to bring it back to life and restore its original beauty.

The exterior of the Magnolia House had all of its vinyl deck boards and railings removed and new wooden deck boards and railing installed. The existing trellis skirt was removed, and we came back with an antique brick skirt to achieve a really timeless, solid look. It received a new metal roof, new paint, fresh windows, and all new landscaping. We kept the original lamp posts and iron fencing surrounding the property.

The Magnolia House was truly a treat to redesign and restore to its original character, and it’s definitely one of my favorite projects to-date. It seemed that the further we got into the renovations, the more each and every corner of this home had a story to tell, and I enjoyed every minute of bringing it back to life. I hope you enjoyed our Christmas special with our family, and Chip and I hope you enjoy this wonderful holiday to relax with your family and friends! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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