Fixer Upper Premiere Passes Up T-Bone for Tudor

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Chip and Joanna Gaines are back for their last season of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper,” which premiered Tuesday night.

While there won’t be a “Flip or Flop Fort Worth” recap this week because it’s a repeat, the HGTV gods are still in a giving mood — Tuesday was the premiere of the first episode of the last season of “Fixer Upper.”

But before we get to that, some reader mail:
“I love the kitchen backsplash tile from the pulling out a paycheck episode.  Any idea what it’s called or where to find it.

Sue from Nashville”

Sue, I loved that tile, too. So I had actually been looking for it even before I got your letter, and luckily, I found it. You’re looking for the Art Grille Matte ceramic tile, which can be found stateside here.  

And now for Chip and Jo. Did you guys watch? It’s time, y’all. First episode of the last season of “Fixer Upper.” Last season of Chip and Jo. The cult of shiplap, however, will probably live on. Probably. Right?

The episode starts in the truck, with Chip saying, “alright, baby girl.” I think they’re contractually obligated to start every episode in a truck or in a field.

Chip and Jo are meeting Matt and Samantha Hardy, a young couple from Austin with a $200,000 budget — which can get you a lot in Waco, or a hobo’s cardboard box in Austin.

If you have never watched “Fixer Upper” before, here’s the basic rundown: Husband-and-wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines take a homebuyer (or homebuyers) to three different choices, all of which get nicknames. At any given time, Chip may do something zany while giving the tour, like eat a bug or wear a lampshade or something.

Then the homebuyer picks, the couple fixer uppers the house (usually with a healthy dose of shiplap), and reveals the finished product to the couple.

This episode doesn’t deviate much from that plan, other than Chip is relatively chill this episode.

The first house they take the Hardys to is a two-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath, 1,230 square foot home built in 1950. They call it the Green Acreless House, and it’s $70,000.

Chip and Jo said it reminded them of their first house. It’s kind of cute, but it wouldn’t be a fixer upper if it didn’t have some weirdness going on.

Immediately, you can see there are nice hardwood floors throughout the house. The textured walls have seen better days, though.

“It looks like my complexion as a teenager” Chip says.

One thing the couple wanted was dedicated office space, since Matt will be working from home most of the time. This house has one – complete with pocket doors and wood paneling. It’s in decent shape, too.

The kitchen is a pretty good size, but dated. The master suite is small, and the bathroom is more reminescent of something you’d see on a JetBlue plane, not Veranda.

But it doesn’t necesarily scare off the couple. “

“We’ve been living in apartments for the past six months so we’re used to that,” Matt says. Jo suggests adding on a master closet and master bath.

But after touring the backyard, Matt pulls something out of his pocket — a $30,000 house built in 1886 that they found online. He and Samantha want to know if they can go take a look at it.

You can practically see Chip and Jo salivate.

“I’m up for a challenge,” Chip said to them. But in the car, he and Jo also talk about how much work the house probably needs. I mean, when you call the Realtor to ask about seeing it and said Realtor tells you the house is just open for anyone to walk in at any time, you know the house isn’t going to be a cakewalk. Not even a cupcake walk. Probably not even a tiny cakeball walk.

“When they see this in real life, it’s gonna be a doozy,” Chip says.

The house is really cute. You can see the potential. It’s a three-bedroom, one-bath, but the listing doesn’t say anything about square footage.

My notes: “What’s wrong with it? You know there’s something wrong with it.”

“Does this scare the snot out of you?” Chip asks the couple while they stand in the yard. They assure him they’re still game. But will they be once they get inside?

There is nothing inside. It’s been demo’d already. There’s no plumbing, no electrical, no HVAC, no nothing. Jo’s a little giddy, and oddly Chip is the one that brings everyone back down to earth.

“Can we do this for $70,000?” he asks. No. No, they cannot. Jo realizes this as she ticks off all the things the house needs.

Matt thinks it would overwhelm them. “This is a good second third or fourth home,” he said, and the Hardys agree that they should probably go see another house.

When they get back in the truck, Jo still is talking about this house.

“I’m like a dog with a t-bone steak,” Jo says of the house. The last time a property left an impression like that, the Gaineses ended up with a bed-and-breakfast, so maybe this isn’t the last we’ve seen of this house.

The four roll up on the last house — a three-bedroom, one-bath house built in 1932. It’s $110,000, and they’re calling it The Lunar Lander in honor of the moon-shaped cutout on the door of this adorable Tudor-style home.


This house is adorable. Without those shrubs, you could probably tell it more. Inside, there are nice wood floors that could use a little refinishing. There’s a nice fireplace, too.

“The space seems pretty much done,” Jo says, but of course she has a few ideas to punch it up.

Jo also has suggestions for solving a weird layout problem that requires folks to walk through a bedroom to get access to the backyard, and those suggestions will also create a home office.

My notes: “Love the old vintage tile in the bathroom. So do Samantha and Matt.”

Sam also likes the galley kitchen, so Jo proposes keeping the footprint, but updating it completely.

Chip tells the couple that once updated, the home is a good buy that will retain its resale value regardless of the market.

“There will always be a market for this,” he said.

Jo still tempts them with the $30,000 house from before, asking them if they’re sure they don’t want to brave it.

Twitter is on the fence.

There is a #FixerUpper and then thr is a FIXER UPPER! 😳 @hgtv #LiveTweetCrew

— Ryan Bartholomee (@RyanBartholomee) November 22, 2017

“That second house is gorgeous, but you can make any house gorgeous,” Samantha says. The two decide on the third house.

And then it’s demo day – and there’s not a ton to do.

“So far, this is too easy,” Chip complains. Jo appeases him by pointing out he gets to demo the entire kitchen and several other things.

While walking the house, they find the original blueprints, just left kind of as an afterthought in a closet.

“That moon is original!” exclaims Jo, who decides to frame them. “This is a big deal.”

“Typically what we come across is someone’s grocery list from the eighties,” Chip adds.

Chip finds hardwoods in the kitchen underneath the current flooring.

“This demo day is gonna stink,” Chip reiterates, sad there isn’t a lot of demo.

As the crew dismantles parts of the Tudor, Matt and Samantha head to the farm for their meeting with Jo and her Magical Laptop Made Of Shiplap and Cupcakes.

This couple is cute – she’s happy Jo has turned a bathroom that could skew feminine and made sure it still felt masculine.

“It looks so beautiful, we can’t wait to move in,” Samantha says.

After the commercial, we see that they’ve gotten to work. Shorty, the contractor, has hidden a plastic snake under some lumber. Chip moves the boards to find it, and well, screams and runs away.

“Nothing scares me except for snakes … And ninjas … and grizzly bears… “ Chip says.

Later, Chip and Jo head to Aubrey’s to look for the perfect pieces of raw wood to make a bar top and shelves. They find a perfect log of pecan wood to turn into what they need, and Chip gets to, as my notes say, “use Aubrey’s giant wood cutting machine thing.”

Back at the house, the tile is going up in the bathroom tub surround, and drywall is up in the hallway, too.

Chip is pressure washing the house to freshen and lighten the brick, which will look striking with the charcoal they’ve chosen for the trim paint.

Jo mentions that Matt’s grandfather, Papa Hardy, makes furniture. She wants to use some of Papa Hardy’s work in the couple’s first home. She thinks that Chip should take their two boys on a road trip to Overland Park, Kansas, to see Papa Hardy.

She tells him it’s a seven to eight-hour drive.

Joanna Gaines is a lying liar who lies. It takes eight hours to drive there from Dallas, which means it will be more like 10 to 12 from Waco.

And the scenery is um, flat. And at one point you drive through the Edge network until you lose a signal altogether. When I say the drive from Texas to Kansas is paved with the tears of thousands of bored children, I’m not engaging in hyperbole.

“Are we there yet?” one of the kids asks.

“We have hours and hours and hours left,” Chip responds.

Meanwhile, Joanna is at the house, checking on the work and admiring the finishes she’s chosen, which are predictably pretty and light and airy.

“It always seems a little quieter when you walk into a project and chip’s not there,” Jo says.

After Shorty has stripped the door of years of paint, he and Jo test stains on the door. Ultimately, they go with a light stain which is probably closer to what it looked like in the thirties.

Meanwhile, Chip and the boys are still driving. I could’ve told you that.

They finally get to Kansas and meet Papa Hardy and Grandma Hardy.

After meeting the adorable couple, Chip and the boys head out to Papa Hardy’s workshop.

“Papa Hardy’s competes with some of the workshops I’ve seen,” says Chip, who mentions he’s been to Clint Harp’s and Jimmy Don’s.

The boys get to work the lathe to turn table legs, and Papa Hardy says he will bring the pieces because he was planning on visiting anyway.

HOLD UP. Jo, you sent them on this long-ass drive and they’re not even bringing the furniture back? WE HAVE PHONES NOW, JO. PHONES. THEY’RE AMAZING INVENTIONS THAT YOU CAN USE TO DO MORE WITH THAN CALL HOMEOWNERS WITH “BAD NEWS.”

Finally, the boys and Chip are back and Jo gets to stage. Chip has brought the girls to help Jo for the day.

Jo reminisces with her daughters about what it was like when they first started the show. I expect we’ll see more of these trips down memory lane this season.

Emmy used to be below the camera, holding on to Jo’s legs. Now she’s tall enough to be in the camera range.

Before you know it, it’s time for the big reveal. You know the drill. Canvas on rollers. Chip reviewing the budget.

Joanna asking, “Matthew and Samantha, are you ready to see your fixer-upper?”

“Awwwwwwwwwwwww….” Samantha says.

“What?” Matthew says, a little dumbfounded.

With the shrubbery gone, the cleaned up exterior, new trim paint, and the new iron railing in place on the porch, this house oozes curb appeal.

You know it’s a good sign when Sam is stroking the door as she walks in.

Earlier, during their meeting at the farm with Jo, they had chosen to add wood beams to the living room ceiling. With the home done, you can see how perfect they are for that space. It almost gives it a kind of coffered feel.

The two are obviously touched with the inclusion of Papa Hardy’s furniture (which is signed by him inside one of the drawers). And the whole living room is just gorgeous.

That kitchen. Black cabinets, white marble countertops, and that seriously awesome pantry door set. I mean, those doors are almost so fancy I would have been shocked to find it hiding my Ziplocs and cereal, and not a portal to a fancypants other room.

The master bath is also gorgeous. Jo managed to prevent it from skewing too feminine with a plaid looking wallpaper, but the vintage tile has given her a great palette to work with.

The couple is wowed, clearly

“I think we knew it would be beautiful, but it’s almost surreal that we get to live here,” Samantha says.

So what do you think? How did the first episode go for you? Next week, we’ll be back to recapping “Flip or Flop Fort Worth,” but we’ll come back to recap the last episode of “Fixer Upper” later this season.

Bethany Erickson is the education, consumer affairs, and public policy columnist for She also has opinions about TV shows, lima beans, orders that are appropriate for the drive-through, driving to Kansas, and wine. Contact her at

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson lives in a 1961 Fox and Jacobs home with her husband, a second-grader, and Conrad Bain the dog. If she won the lottery, she'd by an E. Faye Jones home. She's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Online News Association, the Education Writers Association, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, and the Society of Professional Journalists. She doesn't like lima beans or the word moist.

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