Can home renovations be a bonding experience for couples? You bet -- just ask Chip and Joanna Gaines, the stars of the HGTV hit " Fixer Upper." Chip, a contractor, and his wife, Jo, an interior designer, have turned tons of homes from mediocre hovels into eye-catching gems that fetch well over the original investment.
It's little wonder that the Gaines' hit show has been spun into a home decor store called Magnolia Market in Waco, TX, a fully booked guest house above, and an upcoming book, "The Magnolia Story" (due out in October but available for preorder now).
More astonishing still, the Gaines, who are also parents of four young kids, have mastered what many couples in the throes of a stressful home overhaul would readily admit have eluded them: peaceful co-existence! Rather than get on each other's nerves, they come out the other side seemingly more sweet on each other than ever.
So what's their secret? To find out, we had our own heart-to-heart with the "Fixer Upper" couple to get an earful about their tips, tastes, tales, and travails.
Q: What home decor trends do you love most right now?
Joanna: Oh, that's easy. I love anything timeless and classic like shiplap, subway tile, and beautiful hardwood floors.
Chip: I like whatever Jo likes.
Q: What home decor trends do you dislike most?
Joanna: Anything that's not timeless I shy away from in my own home. However, whenever we have a client who wants something a little more bold, I'm more than happy to take risks. And I surprise myself with what I end up loving. Working with clients who stretch me creatively and introduce me to styles I probably wouldn't brave on my own is my favorite part of my job.
Chip: And I dislike whatever Jo dislikes.
Q: What's the most challenging renovation you've tackled?
Joanna: Definitely our farmhouse. We had to get very creative on how to essentially double its size and utilize every square foot of space we could find. Plus, it's surprisingly tough to nail down your own vision!
Q: Which renovation projects give you the most bang for your buck?
Chip: It's true what they say about bathrooms and kitchens selling houses, but we've always been big believers in a little curb appeal going a long way with buyers.
Q: What's the biggest mistake homeowners make when trying to sell or improve their home?
Chip: Don't bite off more than you can chew when you're getting ready for a move. Jumping into a project that you could run out of time or resources to finish before your house goes on the market is a bad idea. It's a little tougher to sell a house that looks like it will take a lot of time or money just to make it livable, and not everyone is going to share your vision for what it could be.
Q: Any advice for helping couples get through renovations without aggravating each other?
Joanna: From the start of a project, recognize that you are a team. When Chip and I got married, I was better at choosing materials like backsplash and grout colors, and he was much better at figuring out how to do things we didn't have money to hire out for. Just recognize that each of you will have certain strengths and weaknesses. Use it to your advantage instead of getting frustrated or burned out with what you can't do.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges of working together?
Joanna: Chip and I can both agree that we actually work better together than we do apart. Of course, that's not to say working together is always a breeze. We have to set aside intentional time at home where we both agree not to talk about work.
Chip: Also, Jo loves to spend money on our own house. And I'd rather spend money on pretty much anything else. But I do have to say, our house is awesome. Way to go, Jo-Jo!
Q: How about some advice for couples shopping together?
Chip: Before you even set foot in a home improvement store, sit down and talk about your priority list and separate wants. That way, you don't show up at Lowe's and then realize the two of you both have strong opposing opinions on this or that.
Joanna: Building a Pinterest board together to get inspiration is also a good idea. That way there's a vision the two of you can run toward together.
Q: What will readers be surprised to learn from the book?
Chip: Our first date story is one of my favorites from the book. I think the readers will be impressed with how smooth I was.
Joanna: Ha! Spoiler: He was over an hour late. And you'll just have to pick up the book to read how on Earth he convinced me to go anywhere with him after that.
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Be sure to follow Joanna Gaines on Facebook so you can view Chip & Jo's Facebook Live Event on May 24 at 2:30 p.m. Central time, where they'll be answering fan questions about their life, "Fixer Upper," and their new book, " The Magnolia Story."