As renovation pros, Chip and Joanna Gaines are used to making a plan and seeing it through, but even they couldn’t have foreseen being where they are today. Since first starring on Fixer Upper eight years ago, the dynamic husband-and-wife duo has gone on to become household names, growing their Magnolia empire and, now, launching their very own Magnolia Network.
“To think that we’re sitting where we’re sitting right this minute in 2021, we wouldn’t have been able to predict this in a million years,” Chip admitted to Parade.com in a new interview. “It’s been fascinating.”
The No Pain, No Gaines author noted that being on television is a complicated experience. “One of our biggest challenges is just that we didn’t know what this meant exactly, but now we do,” he explained. “It’s definitely helped us clarify what we want to showcase as it relates to our family and our personal relationship… We’re really private about [some of] those things because we realize the ramifications in some cases of kind of showing too much of the kids or showing too much about our intimate specific details of our relationship, but in the same token, all we know how to do is be real. All we know how to do is be authentic.”
With Chip and Joanna, what you see is what you get. “We didn’t come from a background of acting or performing or wanting to be quote-unquote on television. So when you take that out of the equation, all we know how to be is Chip and Joanna Gaines, the business owners in Waco, Texas and then we sort of take it from there,” Chip continued. “But being on television is a really unique experience especially for people who don’t understand some of the ramifications that come from that. But I will say that Jo and I look at this entire experience as a whole, and we’re just so grateful.”
Despite their fame and success, the power couple continue to maintain a sense of normalcy for themselves and their five children—Drake, Duke, Ella, Emmie and Crew—who are quick to bring their famous parents back to reality.
“I would saying being a parent of five kids sort of expedites that normal feeling, because no matter how proud Jo and I might feel about a deal we’ve done or something we’ve accomplished, you walk through that front door and those five kids are like, ‘Hey, we don’t care what you just pulled off, you know, you need to get us to this T-ball game,’” Chip said. “‘And change our diapers and figure out these things,’ so, something about being a parent in general, I think, helps with that element of normalcy for sure.”
“Reality and check,” Joanna interjected.
For the Fixer Uppers stars, home is where they “get fueled” by household tasks that some might not enjoy as much. “I think there is a part of normalcy that we crave,” Joanna shared. “What I find myself being drawn to are the normal things where I used to hate doing laundry, I love doing laundry. I love doing the dishes. I love working in the garden. Some of those basic kind of chores that used to wear me out and exhaust me are now the very things that kind of fuel me because it is normal.”
She added, “I love the smell of a clean laundry room and when the dryers humming I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m home.’ So, you know for Chip it’s working on the farm feeding those animals, driving around with the kids in the little cart to just check on the land and all the animals like I think it’s those things that are so basic, that are actually the very things that bring us the most life.”
With the Magnolia cofounders in the public eye, their children have had to get used to a new kind of normal. Joanna recalled a recent birthday trip to New York for daughter Emmie’s birthday during which the cookbook author took several photos. “Sweet Emmie would say, ‘Well, I’ll take the picture,’ but the way she handled that. The kids have just had to learn that this is the new normal,” the mom said. “I think with them seeing that it’s our normal, they don’t want it to necessarily be theirs when they’re our age.”
In fact, the Gaines kids are adamant about not wanting to be in the spotlight, which Chip “thought was kind of interesting, especially for at least one or two of the personalities.” He said, “Most of their personalities are like Jo’s to where they’re a little more introverted.”
Chip and Joanna have told their producers and production company that if their children do not want to appear on camera, then don’t expect them to. “Maybe I’ll do a little self-shot video because that doesn’t feel intrusive. It doesn’t feel like there’s a whole crew there, so maybe we’ll show it then, but, you know, when the kids were younger, they didn’t know they didn’t like it. We didn’t know they didn’t like it, but now that they’re older and they’re kind of coming to their own unique personalities, we really want to honor their privacy,” Joanna said.
“We want to honor what they want. As far as television, this isn’t something that they chose as a lifestyle so we were very particular about that with this last season, which is, if you don’t want to do it, don’t even show up,” the Magnolia Table star continued. “It’s been an ongoing conversation in the Gaines household, but we want them to feel as normal as possible as they grow up and as they’re going into their teen years. We don’t want them to feel like they always have to look around to see who’s noticing them. We want them to feel as normal as possible.”
The pair’s children also prefer tuning into episodes that they’re not featured in. “I think they like it better when they’re not in it,” Chip said. The kids can be “too hard on themselves,” Joanna revealed, but they get a kick out of watching their dad’s entertaining antics.
As Chip recalled, “They’ll burst into like laughter with me doing this or that, so it’s sort of like our little built in test market and I’m like okay that was funny. Let’s make note, you know, I mean the kids seem to have unanimously like this or that. So we do run it by ‘em as frequently as possible, but it’s funny, they really enjoy the show, the idea of it. It’s just pretty interesting that they’re not compelled or drawn to be in front of the camera. They enjoy watching it like the rest of us and they enjoy hanging out with the production team as they sort of learn about lighting and setups and cameras.”
For now, though, it doesn’t seem like Chip and Joanna’s children will be following in their TV footsteps. “When you ask any of them, what do you want to be when you grow up, they all say something about business,” Joanna said. “Media isn’t something that’s on any of their radars.”
The Magnolia Network officially launched on discovery+ July 15.