If you’ve watched the show Fixer Upper even once, then you probably know a few things about Joanna Gaines. Her impeccable sense of fashion, the sweet way she interacts with her husband and children, her unapologetic love of farmhouse chic (and shiplap) — it’s all so obvious.
But like everyone, there’s more to Joanna Gaines than meets the eye, and the Jo you encounter on TV is only part of the story. Ahead, discover some little-known facts about HGTV’s reigning queen.
Her favorite room may surprise you
“I love my laundry room,” she told Today. “I know that’s a funny thing to love, but this summer I gave it a complete makeover and now it’s a place that inspires me. Just the natural light alone makes me want to settle in and drink my morning coffee there. As a bonus, it helps me dislike laundry day a little less.”
Next: She was open to having more kids.
She loves having a big family
Next: A beautiful room isn’t the most important aspect.
She’ll choose function over form every time
Joanna may be known for creating beautiful designs, but she’ll never choose decorative finishes that don’t work for real life.
As she told Today, “A few years ago I realized I was decorating and designing my house around what was beautiful rather than practical for my family. When I made that realization, everything kind of clicked for me. I started being intentional about designing spaces with my kids in mind, rather than picture-perfect rooms.”
Next: She doesn’t care about Wi-Fi.
She’s mindful about technology usage
Her 40-acre farm doesn’t get great Wi-Fi — but Joanna doesn’t care about that much. While she does have a cell phone, she says, “[The phones] are something that we have to be disciplined with because even though we don’t have a ton of technology around the house, the phones can demand our attention. We just try to be mindful of putting them up when we are with our kids.”
Even though she has a phone, her kids probably won’t. She has said, “We want to teach our kids that life happens outside of these devices. It’s just a simple thing to go outside and connect with nature, play with your friends and get dirty.”
Next: She gets up before the sun.
She’s up by 5 a.m. most mornings
Blame it on living that farm life — Joanna Gaines is an early riser. With four kids to get ready and, oh yeah, a small empire to run, it’s no wonder Jo gets up at the crack of dawn every day.
And in case you thought she was serving the kiddos cold Pop-Tarts for breakfast, she’s definitely not. Joanna has gone on record saying she likes to start the day with a hot meal, such as biscuits and gravy, eggs with toast, or pancakes.
Next: She doesn’t watch her own show at home.
She doesn’t own a television
Joanna said that when she and Chip first got married, they didn’t buy a TV, and then eventually they realized they just didn’t need one. They catch up on episodes of Fixer Upper at friends’ houses.
Next: She isn’t perfect.
She makes design mistakes, too
When it comes to interior design, practice makes perfect, and Joanna wasn’t always gifted with the magic touch. She said, “For our first high-end flip, I chose a tan stucco color. After it was painted, I pulled up to the house and it looked like a big yellow school bus.”
Next: Her original career goal had nothing to do with interior design.
She wanted to be a broadcast journalist
No wonder she looks so natural in front of the camera — Joanna always aspired to become a television star. She has a degree in broadcast journalism and even interned for Dan Rather at CBS in New York City.
But she never imagined she’d have her own hit TV show. “I always dreamed of the idea of television but never thought it would have to do with design or renovations,” she said.
Next: HGTV was not her television debut.
Joanna’s television debut was a tire commercial
Before she became a household name, Joanna Gaines worked in her dad’s tire shop and starred in their local TV advertisements.
Next: She was attracted to Chip’s roommate.
She had a crush on Chip’s roommate first
Chip and Joanna met when he came in to get his brakes serviced at her father’s auto shop, but she barely even noticed him. His handsome roommate (known as “Hot John” in the Gaines’ memoir, The Magnolia Story) attracted Joanna’s attention, but thankfully she was too nervous to approach him.
Chip struck up a conversation with Jo instead, saying he recognized her from the TV ads. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Next: Her nationality keeps people guessing.
She’s not Native American
According to her blog, Joanna loves hearing people guess her ethnicity. She says, “Although I did play Pocahontas in high school, I am not Native American. My father is half Lebanese/half German and my mother is full Korean.”
Next: She’s learned how to be flexible.
Both Joanna and Chip can successfully do a back handspring — and not break their necks.
Next: Her first job was at this restaurant.
Her first job was at an all-you-can-eat buffet
Gaines says she still loves frequenting these types of restaurants, though the only people who will join her nowadays are her kids.
Next: Her dream literally came true.
She’s always wanted to own a bakery
Silos Baking Co. is a dream come to life for Joanna, who desired to open a bakery ever since she had her first Little Shop on Bosque Boulevard.
If you’re ever lucky enough to visit, Jo recommends the Cup o’ Jo cupcake. “The chocolate cupcake with the chocolate espresso icing is rich, but there’s no such thing as too much chocolate for me,” she said.
Next: She worries a lot.
She’s a worrier
Joanna is more practical while Chip is a risk taker — which is part of what makes the pair of them so successful. While she worries about important aspects such as risk, budget, and logistics, Chip helps her to stretch out of her comfort zone.
“He thrives with risk,” she said. “I learned quickly to trust Chip’s instincts on the buy and to be resourceful when it came to implementing the design so that we were smart with our investments.”
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