Chip and Joanna Gaines Designed That?! Their Worst ‘Fixer Upper’ Fails Revealed

Chip and Joanna Gaines

Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

From a few pieces of shiplap and some random word art, Chip and Joanna Gaines have built a home design empire. What began as a cute, little HGTV show called “Fixer Upper” has ballooned into hugely popular product lines at Target, grand plans to launch their own network on Discovery, best-selling books, and beyond.

What’s their secret? Some may say this couple’s success stems from their adorable on-air banter, but it’s also hard to deny that, plain and simple, their design sense rocks. From farmhouse sinks to those delightfully airy open floor plans, the homes they transform feel warm yet chic, classy but comfortable all at once.

And yet to put it in terms that baseball-loving Chip would appreciate, no one bats a thousand. As fabulous as this couple’s design chops are most of the time, there are more than a few design decisions, particularly in their earliest episodes of “Fixer Upper,” that are clear cases of them working out some bugs in their soon-to-be sleek aesthetic.

Want proof? Behold some of the most cringe-inducing “Fixer Upper” design fails by Chip and Joanna, culled from photos of their earliest episodes. Let them serve as a reminder that building an empire involves more than a few bloopers along the way!

Faux fireplace

Season 1, Episode 5

Fixer Upper

Faux fireplace with “interesting” hangings in the middle

Sarah Wilson/HGTV

While making over the home of their furniture designer friend Clint Harp, Chip and Jo installed a vintage fireplace mantel in a spot with, um, no fireplace. As a consolation prize, in that spot they hung baskets with what look like bird nests? Seems a little avant-garde for most people’s tastes.

Hanging bedside tables

Season 3, Episode 1

Fixer Upper

They’ll probably want to rethink these hanging bedside tables.

Rachel Whyte

Hey, are those hanging bedside tables we see? It might look cool, but imagine how hard it would be to balance a book and glass of water on this precarious surface without it tipping over. Just no.

Too much reclaimed wood

Season 2, Episode 1

Fixer Upper

A kitchen clad in reclaimed wood planks

Rachel Whyte

We know the Gaineses were going for rustic here, but there’s probably not a single room in this small farmhouse that didn’t get more than its fair share of used wood. Accent walls (even in the bathroom), wainscoting, bookcases, you name it, the place is brimming with it. But nowhere is it more overboard than in the kitchen, where it’s even bedecking the stove hood! Hope it’s not flammable.

A window frame on a wall

Season 2, Episode 9

Fixer Upper

Shabby chic wall hanging


OK, so putting up a window frame where there’s no window is strange. Then when you hang Mason jars with flowers within and have birds flying nearby, it all gets a bit too busy for all but the shabbiest of shabby chic lovers to stomach.

Matchy-matchy bedroom

Season 1, Episode 3

Fixer Upper

Pastel-colored carpeting from days of yore

Unlike most of Chip and Joanna’s later designs, which include fun pops of color to liven things up, this particular bedroom goes out of its way to be bland, with pastel colors and little contrast throughout. And whoa, wall-to-wall carpet? Everyone knows that’s tough to keep clean and fresh.

Strange signage, take 1

Season 1, Episode 11

Fixer Upper

Words on walls have come a long way since this photo was taken.

Sarah Wilson/HGTV

Once upon a time, words on walls was a definite trend, and Joanna dove right in. But rather than the usual cheery urgings to “EAT” or “LOVE,” these letters spelling “HOME” look like they’re straight out of a ransom note. Combined with the dark counters and furnishings, the whole room seems a bit ominous, and makes you wonder if you’ll ever get out of there alive.

Galley kitchen gaffe

Season 1, Episode 2

Fixer Upper

Renovated galley kitchen

Not that there’s anything wrong with a galley kitchen, but Chip and Joanna have gotten about as far away from it as designers can go. Had they been working on this kitchen later in their careers, we’re betting they would have moved mountains, or at least walls, to give this narrow galley kitchen a little more space.

Strange signage, take 2

Season 1, Episode 7

Fixer Upper

A curious sentiment hung curiously

Sarah Wilson/HGTV

While Chip and Joanna did a fabulous job on the renovation of a cottage for a mom and her son, they went a little overboard with the letters hung all over the house—especially on this entryway wall. The spacing makes it hard to read, and the sentiment makes you go, “huh?”

Saddest coffee table ever

Season 2, Episode 7

Fixer Upper

Coffee table or picnic bench?


Everyone knows that a narrow room calls for narrow furniture, but does this spindly picnic bench have the strength to serve as a coffee table? We worry that it might break under the weight of one cup of joe. It doesn’t exactly beckon guests to lounge in front of the fire.

Heavy-handed home staging

Season 2, Episode 8

Fixer Upper

Joanna Gaines’ staging was a bit arbitrary here.

Hey, how about we overstage this coffee table by stacking two wooden trays on top of each other, oh-so-casually crooked, and placing a bowl of moss balls on top? Then next to it, we’ll use an antique book as a coaster for a vase of fresh tulips! Fortunately, Joanna’s staging has gotten a lot more purposeful and less arbitrary since this awkward arrangement.

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Source: Housing Trends Feed