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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  • Krys Mantovani
    2:38 am, July 19, 2017
    Amazing!!! I love it! <3 Great job
  • Francine Anderson
    7:39 pm, July 10, 2017
    I am a very modern with industrial elements type of gal. I am really impressed with Joanna's handling of the spaces where her clients have expressed a preference for that kind of space even though Jonna's own preference seems to be more traditional/farmhouse. You are truly a great designer. I love the sofa you used under the staircase on the houseboat. Can you tell me where to get it? Thanks.
  • Amethyst
    1:52 pm, July 9, 2017
    That canoe your family made, was absolutely beautiful! I've never seen anything like it... and I've been in and on the water all my life! Stunning.
  • Peter
    7:49 am, July 9, 2017
    We just watched this episode and were wondering were the stealing wheel for the houseboat was located
  • Vicki Breheny
    2:53 am, June 29, 2017
    I love love love your show. It inspires me. I love how u 2 give each other cheek. Lol and i love how you love your kids. My favorite show. Congratulations u guys.
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