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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  • Richard Goodwin
    3:40 pm, March 25, 2017
    Who is the person who does your cut out metal signs/plaques for your show? Like the one used for the houseboat name? The "Donna June". Cannot find a person near Franklin TN.
  • Elizabeth
    4:32 pm, March 21, 2017
    I need one in Florida, or Ohio river. Do you know anyone in Florida do same or will you.
  • Denise Peacher
    2:00 am, March 20, 2017
    My husband and I came to Magnolia Store and Silo and your bakery for my birthday in January. Absolutely love your show and we watch and record every episode. You had an episode with a coffee bar, with floating shelves, and the wall was a blackboard. I duplicated this in my kitchen. Everyone who has seen this LOVES it. My husband made me a shiplap king size headboard 7'x7', painted it the cream color you use. He also built me a double barn door for my closet. He has become quite the builder. I am happy for your success with your enterprise.
  • Karen Arnone
    9:06 am, March 19, 2017
    One of my favorite makeovers!!!!
  • Sheryl Curry
    10:30 pm, March 14, 2017
    Love Chip & Joanna!!!
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