Chip and Joanna Gaines to the Rescue: Simple ‘Fixer Upper’ Projects Almost Anyone Can Do
HGTV viewers are transfixed — and green with envy — by the home renovations on the popular show Fixer Upper. The Gaines have passed on their love of shiplap and modern country flair to the viewers, who now could pay millions to live in a home designed by the brilliant duo.
Chip and Joanna seem so normal that it’s easy to assume their designs are affordable and, well, doable. Most homeowners’ budgets are upward of $30,000, leaving Joanna Gaines plenty room to play. What if you wanted in on the deal? Are there any cheap Fixer Upper projects you can do on your own? We’ve created a list of the 10 cheapest Fixer Upper-inspired projects you can do yourself and still feel like you’ve been blessed with the Magnolia charm.
1. The art of decluttering
- Cost estimate: Free
Many homeowners think the only way to gain more space is to knock down walls. In fact, there’s not a Fixer Upper renovation that doesn’t include knocking down a wall or two.
But not every DIYer on a budget can afford such serious demos. One cheap home project you can do yourself is to create more space with strategic layouts. Joanna Gaines has perfected a minimalist design style that’s sure to make each piece more meaningful. When decluttering your rooms, discard any object that doesn’t fit a cohesive look. And paring down will definitely save you money on home decor. Plus, mastering this technique will make your home sell faster should you ever decide it’s time to move.
Next: The most famous “Fixer Upper” project that’s suitable for DIYers
2. Incorporating shiplap
- Cost estimate: $2 to $4 per board
Even if your home renovation doesn’t strike shiplap gold like the Gaines’ projects normally do, there are plenty of ways to incorporate shiplap into your next project. Simply head down to the hardware store, and buy pre-made shiplap wallpaper or some 2-by-4s. The other cost-effective method would involve hunting for new or salvaged pine at a local lumber yard, and use a saw to create rabbets. Then, randomly stagger your planks to create the trendy farmhouse look.
Next: Upgrading lighting in your home
3. Replacing light fixtures
- Cost estimate: $150 for recessed lighting, for example
The Fixer Upper duo is famous for debuting their final projects in streams of endless light that highlight their handiwork. Most overhead light fixtures can be found at stores for under $200. Or check out your local secondhand stores or online marketplaces to find old chandeliers or other hanging lantern light fixtures that can be repurposed. Recessed lighting is also a great feature.
Next: Paint like a Gaines.
4. Painting your walls white
- Cost estimate: About $80 to $120
When it comes to freshening up the walls in your home, most people disqualify the color white immediately. But the truth is Joanna Gaines’ white walls never go out of style. One gallon of paint will cover about 400 square feet, so four gallons of paint could easily coat several rooms in your home. At around $20 to $30 each, painting your home is one of the cheapest projects you can do yourself.
You could even choose a few white tones commonly seen on the show via Magnolia Market’s premier interior paint line. Add in a little Fixer Upper flair with neutral accessories, antiques, and furniture pieces, and you’re well on your way to a rustic country vibe.
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5. Sliding barn door
- Cost estimate: $40.99 plus reclaimed door
The Joanna Gaines mantra includes open floor plans, kitchen islands, shiplap, and barn doors. But the antique barn doors seen in almost every Fixer Upper episode don’t come cheap. Luckily, there’s a way you can construct a barn door for way less dough yourself. Amazon sells the metal hardware that’s almost identical to the accents the Gaines use on the show. All that’s needed to complete this project is a reclaimed barn door — or any other antique looking door — that can be found at many thrift stores, antique shops, or a Habitat for Humanity rehab market.
Next: A new and improved living room on a budget
6. Updating existing living room features
- Cost estimate: Around $1,000
One way to redesign your living room is to repurpose the existing features for maximum effect. Avoid spending a fortune by focusing on a few key enhancements that will shine brighter once renewed.
The Fixer Upper design team loves to start with the fireplace and work from there. Wooden or stone mantels can be done for as little as $500, but we’ve all seen Joanna Gaines find her most unique mantel pieces at antique shops and secondhand stores. Of course, no Fixer Upper house is complete without crisp, clean crown molding, which can you can install yourself at around $3 to $8 per linear foot.
Next: How to get that inviting front entry seen in “Fixer Upper” remodels
7. Creating a front entry
- Cost estimate: Around $2,000
Most buyers walk through homes they see online first, which is why first impressions matter most during the resale process. The Gaines are infamous for designing charming entryways that seem to appear out of nowhere in all their remodels. Replacing vinyl siding is quite costly for most minor reno budgets, but other projects can be done for much cheaper.
Pergola additions are a Fixer Upper staple, and salvage yards are prime hunting grounds for scoring unique and historic columns for this project type. Other cheap projects for your front entry include revamped natural wood doors, updated trim work, rustic shutters, or quaint front porch swings that beckon all guests inside.
Next: Cheap ways to add home value by landscaping
- Cost estimate: $3,500 on average
Part of what makes the final reveal on Fixer Upper so great is the home’s dramatic exterior transformation. Landscaping the front or back of your home is an easy way to create curb appeal that increases its value. HGTV says minor landscaping upgrades will recoup 100% of their value come resale.
Start small by trimming shrubbery to showcase your home’s unique features or laying down sod at 50 cents per square foot. Small, inexpensive trees that will grow into mature trees can increase your home’s value by almost 19%. And greenery-filled window boxes paired with a curvy stone walkway to the front door add the quintessential Fixer Upper charm America craves.
Next: Harness your inner Chip Gaines outside.
9. Deck or patio additions
- Cost estimate: $11,000
Another cheap project you can do involves giving your backyard a facelift. When pressure-washing the existing structure just won’t do, you’ll want to harness the creativity seen on the show for a premier project reno. HGTV says adding a 16-by-20-foot pressure-treated wood deck costs about $11,000. At resale, you’d recoup about 90% of your expenditures back.
Take a look at most of Chip Gaines’ outdoor overhauls, and you’ll see decks and patios do wonders for curb appeal while also incorporating more functional living space. Spruce up the feature with brightly colored greenery and outdoor accent pieces, such as fire pits or funky iron benches, to send it over the top.
Next: Renovating the heart of the home on a budget
10. Minor bathroom and kitchen remodels
- Cost estimate: $15,000
Renovating two of the most important rooms in your home can seem daunting for a weekend DIYer. But kitchen remodels recoup an average of 98.5% of their value. A $15,000 kitchen update covers moderate levels of refacing for cabinets and drawers, appliances, fixtures, laminate countertops, and durable flooring, according to HGTV. If new cabinetry isn’t an option, you can trim the budget even further by grabbing some solid wood at your local lumber yard and converting it into trendy open shelving.
Bathrooms provide the greatest return on investment for a reasonable price at 102% recoup value. Simple painting and accessories can be very inexpensive, while a new bathtub, tile floor, toilet, sink, vanity, and fixtures will run about $10,500, according to HGTV. Plus, take a page from the Gaines, and transform vintage maps, wooden signs, or old books into charming, cheap accessories.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.