AT HOME | a blog by Joanna Gaines

Episode 09 - The Double Decker House

February 10, 2017


Believe it or not, Chip and I actually conquered a houseboat renovation a few years before the show started, so this wasn’t our first experience, but it was still a huge challenge for us. Renovating a boat comes with its own set of worries. You have to involve the marina, and hire an architect specifically knowledgeable in boats and there are maritime laws to follow instead of building codes. It’s definitely not easy, but it was a great project that was well worth it. This houseboat was for Brett Swartz, a friend of ours who loves being outside and experiencing the outdoors with his four kids. We wanted it to have a modern and masculine feel, so we utilized raw design materials, like metal and wood. Something we used that we’d never tried before was charred wood siding, which was a perfect fit for the masculine vibe we were going for.

Objective: Main living and kitchen: Design a space that uses all available square footage to create a practical kitchen and living space for the family.

Objective: Create a retreat where Brett can relax. Add a private balcony entrance.

Objective: Add a space that all of Brett’s kids can sleep while staying on the houseboat. 

Q. What made you decide to have a boat house?

A. I love the outdoors. When my kids are with me, we play outside. Being on the water is great because whether it’s kayaking, paddle boarding or just hanging out, the access is right there.

Q. Would you recommend the Fixer Upper experience to others?

A. Yes! I would tell future clients to let go of expectations because it will far surpass whatever you can imagine. Just let Chip and Jo take the reigns.

Q. How does your home stick out compared to other houseboats?

A. It doesn’t even compare. This is something you would find in Seattle or up on the Northeast coast. Each boat in the marina has an individual presence, but ours is on a whole other level.


This was one of those projects where Chip and I really got to use our imaginations and stretch creatively. I loved seeing our friend’s houseboat transform from basically a shipwrecked mess into a houseboat that the whole family will love using year round from now on!


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  • Gayle Piocos
    10:07 am, February 26, 2017
    Did the house boat have an engine room and separate area?
  • Joanne
    7:16 pm, February 25, 2017
    We're dying to know: is there air conditioning on the boat. We were thinking it could get very hot there in TX in the summer. Also, it didn't look like the windows opened. Was there a way to pick up cross breezes? Just curious about the technical details... P.S. Love the treatment for the outside shingles!
  • Brian Barry
    5:29 pm, February 25, 2017
    The owner of the house boat was wearing a cool t-shirt in the end. Wear do I get that shirt.
  • Mary
    5:09 pm, February 25, 2017
    Where did they put their clothes?
  • ray marttel
    5:06 pm, February 25, 2017
    this was the only show you did that I don't like at all as for girl and boy in the same room if you call it that as only having a bunk for a teenage girl is so wrong on many live , were in Canada girl of her age would have there own room , if they try that here the kid no longer be in the home if you call it that !
    • Chris
      2:07 pm, February 26, 2017
      That's ridiculous. They are siblings and spend visits with their dad on the boat. There would be nowhere to put all the kids if they were removed from their homes because they have to share a bedroom.
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