Fixer Upper’s Chip Gaines has changed plenty of places. Along with his wife, Jo, the renovation power couple has wowed the world with their ability to improve everything from homes to the entire city of Waco, Texas. After teaming up with the folks at KILZ Brand, Chip Gaines sat down with Southern Living to share his top renovation tips.
1. Do your homework.
Come up with a really solid plan, and then research that plan. You wouldn’t go into heart surgery blindly, or any other really complicated process. It takes practice to get good at this industry that I’m in.
2. Start at your comfort level.
Don’t jump into a complicated, romantic looking project just because you heard a friend do it, or you’ve seen it on a television show. Make sure you feel comfortable at your starting point. I mean, you don’t want to learn to swim in the ocean. You want to take baby steps. Renovation is just like that.
3. Look at the space for what it can be, instead of what it is.
You can’t look at the house you’ve owned for years through the same set of glasses you’ve always looked through. You have to change things up. I’d say this is my strongest gift—I’ve always been able to walk into a project and see what to do in the beginning stages. Jo is excellent at the finish side, and I’m terrible at that. She’s good at the beautiful part, and I’m good at the foundation.
4. Never underestimate the power of paint.
When Jo and I started, we didn’t have large budgets, which led us very comfortably to the paint side of the industry. You can make a big impact on a property just by covering the surface of the walls. I’ll put it to you this way: If Jo were to change the ceiling fan in my office, I wouldn’t notice. I’d walk in and feel a cool breeze on my head. But paint the white walls blue? I think I’d notice.
5. Play it safe.
With wall paint and wall covering, you can make a mistake and not completely destroy your budget—you can do a little trial and error and find what works for you. You do that with plumbing, foundation, a load-bearing wall, or anything with electricity? People literally can get hurt. With paint, the worse thing that’s ever happened to me is I got some splattered on my face because my wife didn’t think the joke that I made about her jeans was funny. You can live with that.
6. Go for quality materials.
Early on, when we didn’t have any money, we would find and restore quality product as opposed to buying inferior product. It’s something we’ve always been passionate about, even adamant about. We don’t want the work that we do for you and your family to last you months or years, in the single digit sense. We want it to be viable for a decade, for a generation.
7. Build for the future, not for the now.
I don’t want to jump into the quickest trends, or the quick fixes. I want to make sure that whatever you establish is going to serve our clients and their needs for a long, long time. When we buy houses built in the early 1900s, they are generally still in very good shape because the people that built them were building them to last for a lifetime. To get your hands on a house that was built 100 years ago, and still have something to work with? That’s fascinating.