Before ‘Fixer Upper,’ Joanna Gaines Had Zero Design or Real Estate Experience

Joanna Gaines is best known for flipping houses with her husband Chip Gaines on HGTV, but before Fixer Upper, she had zero home design or real estate experience. To this day, flipping houses isn’t the reality star’s true passion. Here’s what Joanna really loves doing and how she got into real estate. 

Joanna Gaines, star of "Fixer Upper."
Joanna Gaines | Mireya Acierto/FilmMagic

Joanna Gaines learned about real estate and design by flipping her first house

When Chip and Joanna Gaines first married, they weren’t the successful HGTV stars they are now. They didn’t have much money to spend on their first home and couldn’t afford a beautifully renovated house. But Chip had been flipping houses since college, so they bought an 800-square-foot fixer-upper in Waco.

Joanna shared an Instagram photo of the home, revealing in the caption that she cried when her husband told her they were moving in because the house was “dumpy” and “smelled bad.” But, after fixing it up, she said they “fell in love with it,” and it remains one of their favorite houses to this day.

“We were broke and were forced to be creative with our resources and we were proud as punch about this place,” Joanna wrote. “Most of what I learned creatively stemmed from this little fixer upper. Small house or big, rich or poor- own the space you live in and love what you have. ❤️.”

Joanna Gaines had zero real estate or design experience before ‘Fixer Upper’

Fixer Upper star Joanna Gaines didn’t get into real estate and home design until she watched her husband Chip work on houses while they were dating. “Chip was flipping houses while we were dating,” Joanna told Glamour in December 2015. 

“When she started watching me do what I did, which was flip these investment properties, she got kind of curious and interested,” Chip said. “I love what I do from a construction standpoint, but in regards to interior design and colors, forget it. I would lean on her – What color do we do this wall? How can we do this floor plan? So it didn’t take very long in our career for her to really evolve into a dominant reality in my business.”

But Joanna had no prior experience in the field. “I was actually a communications major and had never done design,” she said. “I had always had a dream to open up a boutique of some sort.” 


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The ‘Fixer Upper’ star’s true passion isn’t real estate or design

Although Joanna Gaines found success as a house flipper, her true passion isn’t real estate or design. What the Fixer Upper star truly loves is baking – so much so that she opened a bakery. 

“I’ve dreamed about having a bakery since I opened the Little Shop on Bosque Boulevard in 2003,” she told Today in October 2016. “After our move to the Silos (our market and shops), the little building on the front of the property was the perfect spot to finally open one.” 

She shared that owning a bakery felt “surreal” and “like it was meant to be” and that creating her own shop was “a dream come true.”

Gaines is so passionate about the bakery that she said she would go there “every single day” if she could, but she would need “a few more pairs of stretchy pants if that were the case.”