‘Fixer Upper’: Here’s What Chip and Joanna Gaines Were Like Before They Were Famous

It’s really hard to imagine a world without Chip and Joanna Gaines. HGTV’s most beloved renovation hosts seemingly came out of nowhere when their show Fixer Upper premiered in 2014. But ever since then, this Texas duo has been transforming ramshackle properties into stunning dream homes and making it all look like so much fun.

Chip and Joanna Gaines
Chip Gaines and Joanna Gaines | Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Beyond just their obvious renovation talents, Chip and Joanna Gaines also captivated audiences with their unique relationship. These two displayed a marriage filled with laughter, compromise, and plenty of good-natured teasing. The dynamic between this duo was a refreshing departure from so many other show hosts, who were often downright mean to one another.

Fixer Upper fans are well acquainted with the Gaineses now thanks to many years of the show and following the couple on social media. But what were these two like before they got famous?

Chip and Joanna Gaines met in the most unexpected way

In one of the sweetest “how we met stories” ever, Chip Gaines claimed he knew he’d marry Joanna the first time he saw a photo of her. “Her dad made the mistake of putting a pic of the family behind the counter at his [auto repair] shop. I knew I’d marry her one day just by the picture on the wall,” Chip Gaines explained.

When Chip came in to get his brakes repaired one time while Joanna was working in the office. “We met in the waiting area and hit it off immediately. He was genuinely engaging and he had such a sincere smile,” she said.

Joanna Gaines has no formal design training

Her signature farmhouse chic style has become a nationwide phenomenon. But in reality? Joanna Gaines never even went to design school.

The 41-year-old renovation queen had plenty of different jobs, from working as a waitress at a buffet restaurant to pursuing a career in broadcast journalism. There was also a brief time when she believed she’d take over her father’s tire business.

But then she met Chip Gaines and everything changed. He showed her that passion and raw talent could sometime make up for lack of skills. At that point, Chip was renovating homes using techniques he learned “on the fly.” Joanna figured it out by watching him.

Chip Gaines always wanted to be an entrepreneur

Though he told PopSugar that he dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player or a politician, the truth is Chip Gaines has always possessed an entrepreneurial spirit.

In college at Baylor University, he was often seen staring out the window and fantasizing about being his own boss. “Instead of daydreaming about the major leagues or running some Fortune 500 company, I found myself in class looking out the window at the guys mowing grass and wishing I could trade places with them,” he explained.

Chip Gaines owned multiple businesses before he found success with his contracting company and later with Fixer Upper. In college, he even started a laundry folding service for students.

The Gaineses used to be broke

It’s hard to imagine it now that they’re multi-millionaires. But there was a time when Chip and Joanna Gaines couldn’t afford to pay their bills.

“I remember when we first got married the only money we had was what was in Chip’s pocket,” Joanna said during an interview with People. “He always had a wad of cash, but we were broke. If I needed to go grocery shopping it’s whatever was in his pocket. That’s how we paid the bills.”

They learned how to be creative

Having big dreams and a small budget forced the Gaineses to be creative with their decorating plans, and those lessons rubbed off on the couple for life. And their first ever home was definitely a “fixer upper.”

“I remember crying when Chip said we were moving in — it was dumpy and it smelled bad,” Joanna Gaines said in a 2015 Instagram post. But that house is still precious to her.

“To this day, if you ask us what our favorite house we ever lived in we both go back to this little white [800-square-foot] home,” she recalled fondly.

Those hard times paved the way for ingenuity in the future. “We were broke and were forced to be creative with our resources and we were proud as punch about this place,” Joanna said.

They’ve always been humble

One thing people love about Chip and Joanna Gaines is that they’re so down-to-earth and relatable, even now. And it’s clear they haven’t let fame get to their heads.

“All of this sort of fell into our laps,” Chip told People. “We were just living our life out here in little bitty Waco. We had dreams and aspirations like most folks, but this has really been something else.”

And no matter how famous they become, Chip and Joanna Gaines are still the same people they always were. Maybe that’s the reason people love them so much.