Chip and Joanna Gaines are about to cross the finish line with their latest big project (and series), “Fixer Upper: The Castle.”
“We’re eight months into our 11-month renovation, and it’s finally starting to fall into place,” Joanna says at the start of the latest episode, “Getting It Right.”
Still, the two run into big trouble at the last minute, especially in the kitchen, where Chip thinks one of Joanna’s design choices looks like “a prank.” And while Chip loves a good gag, he doesn’t mean it in a good way!
Read on to find out how Chip’s design intervention keeps their latest project in the right direction, and learn many lessons that could apply to your humble abode.
Restore old doors for more character
Chip and Joanna are passionate about preserving this historic castle as much as they can, taking care to reuse many original features. However, some rooms are damaged and worn, so the couple needs to refurbish or freshen up some features, including a set of doors that lead to the veranda. They have the gates restored and when they are brought back to the castle, Joanna is delighted.
“The way they looked a few months ago, a lot of the wood was rotten,” she says. She is relieved “that we can restore them, put them back together and have them looking like new”.
Joanna helps Chip install the doors, which complete the veranda. Clearly taking the time to refurbish, rather than replace, these old doors was the right choice.
Kitchen counters should never block a window
While Joanna’s design for the butler’s kitchen and pantry looks simple enough, there’s one problem: the windows.
“I’m putting a kitchen in two rooms that weren’t existing kitchens. So the window sill is lower than counter height, both in the kitchen and in the butler’s pantry,” says Joanna.
While she was just planning to sidestep the issue with a cleverly designed stunt counter, Chip isn’t happy with the look.
“When I walked in and Jo had kind of created a Tetris situation with the cupboards and the beautiful window, I thought, ‘Oh, I bet that’s a prank,'” he admits.
Chip says they just can’t leave the windows as they are.
“We have to raise this window and we will fix the exterior either with moldings or masonry,” he says. “But you’re not making cabinets against an existing window. It is neither functional nor logical.
Removing the lower part of the window will take a good deal of money and time, with Chip saying it will take another two weeks. But the pair conclude that the extra effort is worth it.
“You make it 100 times better. You make it look natural,” Joanna tells Chip. This goes to show that while retaining the original features of an older home can be important and beneficial, sometimes it makes sense to make a change.
Beware of purchases abroad
Before Joanna can stage the house, there are still a few small issues to fix, including a light fixture. Chip explains that he can’t attach the rod to the base because a wire has broken. It’s frustrating because the light is actually brand new, a part imported from Austria.
“They don’t even use the standard system there,” Chip said trying to fix the light. “The calculations on this are practically impossible.”
It’s a great reminder that buying overseas can lead to additional complications, especially when the electricity can be different.
Choose timeless colors
In this episode, Joanna is faced with another big decision: the colors of the awning.
“At the time they had black and white awnings, but then they were taken down,” she explains. “And a lot of the water damage was from the removal of the awnings, so I’m just going to just make a simple metal awning because it’ll stand the test of time. I don’t want to have to redo the fabric, you know, every three or four years.
Custom metal canopies are simple yet elegant, and while Joanna knows these additions should be dark, she’s stuck between two colors: black and a greenish-brown hue. She can’t decide on the spot, so she brings samples back to the castle to look at the colors with the stone. Once she sees the tones next to the house, she’s sure black is the right choice.
“It’s the most timeless and original,” she says.
Choose coordinating colors that have a classic style
In the old basement of the house, Joanna is creating a playroom that she hopes will feel classic and moody by covering the walls with stained wood paneling. It only remains to choose the finishes for the fireplace and the design of the carpet.
“Really, the only place we can add a bit of texture or color or interest is on the fireplace and on the rug, and so I want those two things to kind of play together,” she says.
Among the samples, she chooses black stone for the fireplace and a dark gray check pattern for the rug. It’s a moody combo that works well together and proves that classic colors are a safe bet in a historic location.