America is enamored with Chip and Joanna Gaines, the two quirky love bugs behind the hit show Fixer Upper. This relatively unassuming couple from Waco, Texas, hyper-monetizes real estate opportunities based on a simple premise: take the worst house in the best neighborhood and transform it into their client’s dream home. Each episode features one family as they tour three homes, which are often nothing more than boxes of squalor and rot, and then they pick one that will become their fixer upper. Chip then heralds “Demo Day” and Joanna invites the clients to look at her renovation vision. Through the magic of television, we go from a house skeleton of studs and pipes to the moment when the client stands in front of a massive billboard image of the home in its original condition. Joanna then says her signature line, “Client, are you ready to see your fixer upper?” and the billboard is pulled back to reveal the home in its new and exquisite glory. Tears flow, jaws drop, knees buckle, and we watch in awe at what this amazing couple just accomplished with hands, heart, and a touch of Harp Design.
Personally, I think that the allure of this show goes far beyond the thrill of discovering usable shiplap behind water damaged sheetrock, or hardwood floors buried underneath rooms of red shag carpet. Chip and Joanna are remarkable entrepreneurs, real estate agents, general contractors, and interior designers; however, the sum of this creative genius is greater than each of the individual parts. The Gaines, along with their producers, have discovered how to tap into our common hope that even if something is the ugliest, most disgusting, roach-infested mess on a crumbling foundation, that somehow and some way if you believe in transformation, then transformation is achievable.
The potential for transformation is intriguing. Mirroring Fixer Upper’s cookie-cutter blueprint for a successful reveal can be easily applied to our own neglected and dilapidated circumstances, whether it’s actual real estate or personal improvement.
STEP 1- Choose Positive Words and Perspectives
Chip re-frames the obvious shortcomings by bestowing optimistic (and corny) names upon each hot mess of a house. Unsightly urine-yellow exterior is now “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” Prison-looking house with bars on the windows is christened “The Barred Up Ranch.” Joanna then chooses a palette of inspiring words and ideas, cajoling her clients to dream beyond current deplorable conditions.
STEP 2- Embrace Demo Day!
Joanna cheers Chip on as he pops his biceps and flashes his signature grin. True transformation requires sledgehammers and sweat, but what fuels it all is a positive take-charge attitude. Just as Chip is clearly energized about busting cabinets and smashing toilets, we should get fired up about excavating our own useless, outdated, and unhealthy junk that only hinders our ability to transform.
STEP 3- Rebuild from the bare bones.
It’s a terrifying and sometimes overwhelming step, but this is when change is equally tangible and tantalizing. Each intentional decision to replace, rebuild, or repurpose is one more step closer to your final reveal. Some things will be new, but real charm comes from salvaging meaningful old things that just need some soap or a fresh coat of paint.
Many of us planned for transformation last month when the ball dropped. Now that it’s February, maybe some of those plans fell off the priority list. But we don’t need to wait for the next calendar change in order to effect positive, meaningful, and profound change. Sadly, Chip and Joanna’s magic will not be in Fayette County any time soon, but in their absence, we have the choice to hope, the power to transform, and the potential for radical and meaningful change. True transformation is undeniably a do-it-yourself project. But in the end, you’ll enjoy happy tears, the “wow” moment, and the buckled knees.
So here’s the question: are you ready to take on your fixer upper?