Chip and Joanna Gaines, the stars of HGTV's Fixer Upper, make their living off of renovating normal houses in and around Waco, TX and turning them into gorgeous, albeit formulaic houses in and around Waco, TX. Lately, many of these Fixer Upper homes have been cropping up as vacation rental listings — a trend that threatens the sanctity of the dream home.
at least six 'fixer upper' homes are listed as vacation rentals
The Waco Tribune reports that at least six of the Fixer Upper houses are currently listed on Airbnb or VRBO, several with the attached note "As seen on HGTV's Fixer Upper." A spokesperson for the Gaines' renovation company, Magnolia Homes, told the Tribune that the team did not have any outright objections to Fixer Upper homeowners listing their properties on Airbnb and other vacation rental sites, but that the show's contracts would be "more strict" about the practice going forward. "We want to honor our national viewing audience. We want to do remodels for clients' homes. That's the true intent of our show, and we want to ensure that does not get lost in this new vacation rental trend," he summarized.
But the bigger problem is that the Fixer Upper duo has been making Airbnb rental prototypes all along. Fixer Upper houses make the perfect Airbnb rental units even without the element of fame: they're beautiful, impersonal, and very clean-looking. They all have white shiplap siding in the bathroom, subway tile back splashes in the kitchen, a reclaimed barn door over the kids' toys closet, and that open floor plan you've always wanted. It's like staying in a hotel, but better because an Airbnb can look exactly like what you wish your life looked like.
The HGTV aesthetic, as Kyle Chayka wrote for The Verge earlier this month, could be described as "neutered Scandinavianism," and it's already spread much further than Waco. It's nearly interchangeable with the international aesthetic of Airbnb, which interior decorator and Airbnb consultant Natascha Folens described to Chayka as "the industrial look and the mid-century, as long as it doesn't look cluttered and old."
'fixer upper' houses make the perfect airbnb units
The fact that most Fixer Upper homes look exactly alike doesn't directly cause any problems for anyone — we all get to watch derpy but lovable Chip and the endlessly patient Joanna hem and haw over budgets and surprise load-bearing walls, and some Waco homeowners get the 14-inch deep wood block kitchen island they've always dreamed of. If people are happy in these houses, who am I to complain? But if they were more personal, maybe thousands of strangers wouldn't want to live in them.
Aside from stricter contracts, the Gaines' could combat their vacation rental problem by breaking with tradition when it comes to their next few remodels. Maybe a shag carpet! Maybe some taxidermy! These are my thoughts, Chip and Joanna, and you can have them for free.