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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  • Douglas Burr
    10:51 am, September 23, 2017
    Since the houseboat was demoed right down to the deck wouldn’t it have been cheaper to just start from scratch? I didn’t get paying for the houseboat, completely gutting it without saving ANY of the structure just to build on top of the existing deck.
  • Lisa C
    6:57 pm, September 17, 2017
    I really like the bunk room. Also, I like the openness on the first floor. Chip and Joanna do a great job.
  • Cheryl Morris
    3:31 pm, September 12, 2017
    I appasolutly love you'll's work ! I don't think there is a more perfect couple on this planet chip is so funny thoughtful and a wonderful father and husband .
    And Joanna you are just amazing with your ideals style and grace appasolutly an aspiring women ! I love you all...
  • Linda Gabel
    1:23 pm, August 22, 2017
    Would love to purchase circulate shelving unit used in the living room on "The Double Decker House". Season 4, Episode. Boat house. Love that shelf above the couch. Cannot find it anywhere. Help !
    • Cheryl Roberge
      8:48 am, August 26, 2017
      google: "shape shelf round west elm"
      That's just one of many companies that offer similar pieces
  • Eshu Marneedi
    8:04 pm, August 4, 2017
    I Want Our house renovated by you guys but we live in florida. we watch your show every night for 2 hours. Love you guys!!!
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