10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Joanna Gaines

After several seasons of hanging onto every Fixer Upper design detail, it’s safe to say we know a thing or two about Joanna Gaines (she loves shiplap and hates walls). In honor of the highly anticipated spin-off, Fixer Upper: The Castle, we’re setting the record straight on a few things Gaines mega fans might not know about Jo.

From her upbringing to her early design days, here are ten surprising facts about the Magnolia founder.

1. She Didn't Grow Up In Waco, Texas

The design guru was actually born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1978. Her family moved to Austin, Texas, when she was 12 years old, and they didn’t plant roots in Waco until her junior year of high school.

2. She's Half-Korean

Joanna’s dad, Jerry, is half-Lebanese and half-German, and Joanna’s mom, Nan, is 100 percent Korean. They met in Seoul, Korea, while he was serving overseas during the Vietnam War. Three daughters and 47 years later, they’re still together, and, as Joanna wrote, they’re “an example of how to love, fight for, extend grace to, and honor each other amidst all their many differences.” *Sniffles*

3. She Went To The Same University As Chip—But Never Ran Into Him

Jo graduated from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree. Although you might think she graduated with a degree in design, she actually received one in communications. Her hubby, Chip, graduated from Baylor in 1998, but they never met while on campus. What are the chances?

4. Her First Job Was At An All-You-Can-Eat Buffet

Joanna once revealed that she cut her teeth in the food industry while working at a buffet. Pros: always having mounds of food at your fingertips. Cons: always having mounds of food at your fingertips.

5. She Met Chip Because Of Car Trouble

The couple met when Chip (who was 27 at the time) came into Joanna’s dad’s automotive shop to get his brakes worked on. Joanna, then 23, just so happened to be working in the office that day. Chip asked her out, and they married on May 31, 2003, in Waco’s Earle Harrison House.

6. She Opened Magnolia Market Solo

Yep, Joanna initially started the Gaines empire on her own, but it wasn’t long before Chip stepped in to take it to the next level. Seven books, a restaurant and a Target line later, they’re still the cutest business partners.

7. She Lives In A 100-Year-Old Farmhouse

She lives with her five kids, jokester husband and oodles of farm animals, no less. (Seriously, we’ve lost count of exactly how many at this point.) Her favorite room? As any mega fan knows, the kitchen of her century-old home. That tile work, though…

8. She Had To Audition For Fixer Upper

And she and Chip almost didn’t get the job…until he pulled a total Chip move and tried to move the family into a houseboat during renovations. Thankfully, Jo reeled him in, and the rest is HGTV history.

9. She Always Knew They'd Reboot Fixer Upper

Shortly after the couple announced the Fixer Upper reboot on Magnolia Network in 2020, Joanna confirmed that she always saw herself returning to reality TV.

“We knew we needed a break and a moment to catch our breath. But we also knew we weren’t done dreaming about ways to make old things new again,” she said.

The show also spawned multiple spin-offs, including Fixer Upper: Behind the Design and Fixer Upper: The Castle.

10. She Doesn't Pay For Renovations

And neither does HGTV. Instead, the couple (or person) on each episode of the show is responsible for paying for their own demolition and furniture. This means that everything from the rugs and the tables to the small trinkets Joanna uses to decorate the bathroom are removed after filming wraps.


Cat mom, yogi, brunch enthusiast

Lex is an LA native who's deeply obsessed with picnics, Slim Aarons, rosé, Hollywood history and Joan Didion. She joined PureWow in early 2017.


Senior Editor

Greta Heggeness is a California-based editor at PureWow and has been writing about entertainment since 2015. She covers everything from awards shows to exclusive celebrity...