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AT HOME | a blog by Joanna Gaines

Episode 09 - The Double Decker House

February 10, 2017


Believe it or not, Chip and I actually conquered a houseboat renovation a few years before the show started, so this wasn’t our first experience, but it was still a huge challenge for us. Renovating a boat comes with its own set of worries. You have to involve the marina, and hire an architect specifically knowledgeable in boats and there are maritime laws to follow instead of building codes. It’s definitely not easy, but it was a great project that was well worth it. This houseboat was for Brett Swartz, a friend of ours who loves being outside and experiencing the outdoors with his four kids. We wanted it to have a modern and masculine feel, so we utilized raw design materials, like metal and wood. Something we used that we’d never tried before was charred wood siding, which was a perfect fit for the masculine vibe we were going for.


Objective: Main living and kitchen: Design a space that uses all available square footage to create a practical kitchen and living space for the family.


Objective: Create a retreat where Brett can relax. Add a private balcony entrance.


Objective: Add a space that all of Brett’s kids can sleep while staying on the houseboat. 

interview with


Q. What made you decide to have a boat house?

A. I love the outdoors. When my kids are with me, we play outside. Being on the water is great because whether it’s kayaking, paddle boarding or just hanging out, the access is right there.

Q. Would you recommend the Fixer Upper experience to others?

A. Yes! I would tell future clients to let go of expectations because it will far surpass whatever you can imagine. Just let Chip and Jo take the reigns.

Q. How does your home stick out compared to other houseboats?

A. It doesn’t even compare. This is something you would find in Seattle or up on the Northeast coast. Each boat in the marina has an individual presence, but ours is on a whole other level.


This was one of those projects where Chip and I really got to use our imaginations and stretch creatively. I loved seeing our friend’s houseboat transform from basically a shipwrecked mess into a houseboat that the whole family will love using year round from now on!


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  • Jo
    4:20 pm, January 28, 2018
    Could you please tell me the brand and the source of the sheets you used on the bunk beds and the blanket. Thank you.
  • Paulette
    4:57 pm, January 19, 2018
    Enjoy every episode, but the houseboat really struck a chord. My dream has always been to live on a boat in my retirement, and I'm closing in on it (ha). Husband has already retired. So, I'm ready to buy the boat, and now that I know how stylish it can be... I don't want to wait for retirement. We have lakes near my job! :-)
  • Amber
    8:40 pm, January 1, 2018
    Loved everything about this! Great job as always Chip and Jo!! Wondering about the metal staircase...did Jo design it and have it custom made???or did Jo order it from a specific company? I would
    Love to incorporate a similar staircase in my home remodel! Any info you could share would be so helpful!!
  • Kathy
    9:57 am, October 29, 2017
    I just want to say thank u for being faithful to God. Iam praying for u all and want u to know God is stirring something in me as I listen to the book.
    • Mary
      9:53 pm, November 6, 2017
      ugh kathy sorry but tmi
  • Denise Norred
    11:35 pm, October 2, 2017
    The house boat was my absolute favorite because I love being on the water! I love your show and how down to earth the two of you are. Please keep doing something on TV. I think you two are awesome! And your children are adorable!
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