Fixer Upper: A Country Farmhouse and an American Dream

Chip and Jo help a wounded war veteran and his girlfriend turn an odd conglomeration of house-and-barn into a stunning country retreat.

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Chip and Joanna with homeowners TJ Brooks and his girlfriend Stephanie.

Photo by: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Chip and Joanna with homeowners TJ Brooks and his girlfriend Stephanie.

It's not your run-of-the-mill renovation by any stretch. What you’ll find in store in this Fixer Upper episode is a warm and touching story framed around one impressive outside-the-box home transformation. Specifically, Chip and Joanna help injured and recovering war veteran, TJ, and his girlfriend Stephanie (and not forgetting TJ's service dog, Macho) re-invent a very unusual house in the country.

Before the renovation

Before the renovation

Here’s the backstory: TJ and Stephanie met after TJ's return from Afghanistan where he lost a leg in an IED explosion. TJ was undergoing recovery at Walter Reed Medical Center, and met Stephanie who was running a non-profit that works with Wounded Warriors. The two of them decided to move to Texas where they purchased a house that sits on a beautiful piece of property on the outskirts of Waco.

Service dog, Macho, patiently awaits the final reveal with TJ.

Photo by: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Service dog, Macho, patiently awaits the final reveal with TJ.

Though the house is situated in a rural and scenic setting, it was far move-in ready. It was also a house unlike any the Gaineses have ever taken on – essentially a 980-square-foot apartment (of sorts) built within the confines of a 2100-square-foot corrugated metal building that was originally a barn. Envisioning the crude structure becoming a dream home would require, among other things, rose-tinted glasses.

"I like unique and different," says Stephanie, "and TJ's dream was to have land. We just didn't know if it would fit in our budget."

"When we first saw the house," adds TJ, "we really didn't know what to expect. But when we walked in and we saw the amazing views, we really both fell in love at the same time." And so the die was cast. The couple decided to embark on a "great adventure" — and just the kind that Chip and Joanna would be eager to share in.

There were considerable challenges both in terms of layout and budget. In its original state, separate spaces within the main structure, partitioned off by corrugated metal walls, included a master bedroom and a second bedroom with kitchenette and an awkward bathroom/laundry-room. There were no real living spaces to speak of.  And between the existing enclosed spaces were dirt floors.

Real Estate Day-

Real Estate Day-

Joanna Gaines visiting husband Chip to check in on the progression of the front porch at the Brooks home, as seen on Fixer Upper.

Photo by: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Moreover, TJ and Stephanie's budget original budget for renovations was around $45,000.  Chip and Jo estimated that a thorough renovation would require $100,000. Fortunately, once news spread about the project, some local businesses and community members were eager to pitch in with donations to help a deserving veteran. In the end, the contributions of money and materials effectively doubled the original budget and made possible a unique and imaginative transformation.

Real Estate Day-

Real Estate Day-

Measure twice, cut once. Chip preps for the update of the farmhouse's front porch.

Photo by: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

Measure twice, cut once. Chip preps for the update of the farmhouse's front porch.

True to form, Joanna comes up with a plan that creates functionally unified spaces, in this case expanding the living spaces into the existing barn. Highlights in the finished space include a spacious and open floor plan encompassing a combined living room and kitchen. An abundance of windows and French doors highlight the new open spaces and take full advantage of gorgeous views looking out onto surrounding pasture.

Real Estate Day-

Real Estate Day-

Joanna Gaines visiting husband Chip to talk about the cabinet install at the Brooks home, as seen on Fixer Upper.

Photo by: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

The new kitchen is sleek and high-contrast with white wood-panel walls, black countertops, a large island with dark gray concrete countertop, farmhouse sink and beautiful wood floors. The master suite effectively merges rustic farmhouse warmth with a blend of classic and contemporary accents, again making use of combinations of black, white, gray and natural wood tones.

Detail in the Brooks' renovated kitchen, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo by: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

And what was once the master bedroom gets transformed into an amazing master bath with oversized walk-in shower, bench seats and double shower-heads. White subway tile and countertops are offset by dark hardwood cabinets and tile floor in charcoal gray.

The Brooks' renovated master bathroom has new cabinets, tiling flooring, and a walk-in shower, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo by: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Perhaps what's most distinctive and defining parts of this restoration are the outdoor spaces — including a newly redesigned front porch, and a separate side porch with screened patio and outdoor dining area.

The Brooks' renovated porch off of their master bedroom, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo by: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

It's a surprising and original renovation, but don't think the surprises end there. Let's just say, with this Fixer Upper, you definitely won't want to miss what happens following the final reveal.

Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A
Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

Chip Gaines at the canvas pull for the Brooks reveal, as seen on Fixer Upper. (behind-the-scenes)

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

The Brooks' reaction during the canvas pull, as seen on Fixer Upper. (behind-the-scenes)

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

The Fixer Upper episode titled "All-American Farmhouse" premieres Tuesday, Feb. 27 at 9|8c. Check here for additional air times, and check back here to see new galleries, videos and get Fixer Upper updates.

See the Full Gallery:
The All American Farmhouse

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Country Living

This idyllic farmhouse in the countryside near Waco started out as a corrugated metal barn. That was before Chip and Joanna worked their magic.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Sit. Think. Rock.

A house in the country with expansive porches positively cries out for porch swings and rocking chairs. This one is no exception.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Country Kitchen, Modern Aesthetic

Brushed metal, copper accessories, stone surfaces and natural wood are brought together in a stylish and functional new kitchen.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Simple Details

The new laundry room and kitchen feature open shelving and plenty of storage options.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Abundant Light

The new master suite has large windows for maximizing the scenic views and bringing lots of natural light into the space.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Meet the Homeowners

TJ and Stephanie met after TJ returned from a tour in Afghanistan and was going through recovery for his injuries. Stephanie was working for the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit organization that works with veterans with war injuries. The couple ultimately decided to move to Texas and bought a tract of land on the outskirts of Waco. With the land came a building that had originally been a barn — which the couple hoped to transform into a country dream home. Though their budget for renovations was small, their wish list included a welcoming kitchen, a master bath with a large walk-in shower and spaces for enjoying the outdoors. Once Chip and Jo signed on, news spread about the project, and some local businesses and community members were eager to pitch in with donations to help a deserving veteran. In the end, the contributions of money and materials effectively doubled the original budget.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Before

The "home" that came with the property was essentially a 980-square-foot apartment (of sorts) built within the confines of a 2100-square-foot corrugated metal building. Inside, a master bedroom was separated from the rest of the living space — a guest room, tiny kitchen and combination bathroom/laundry room — by tin walls and dirt floors.

After

The corrugated tin exterior is replaced with wood siding painted in white and offset by the natural wood of the newly refinished columns, new front door, barn-style garage doors and screened patio. Solar panels installed at the rear of the metal roof provide power to the home's heating and cooling systems.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Before

The apartment portion of the building included a small living room and tiny kitchen.

After

Walls were removed, as well as a mechanical closet and laundry room, to expand the living space, creating an open floor plan encompassing a the kitchen and living room.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Living Room, Before

 

Living Room, After

The living room gets new hardwood floors, updated lighting, two sets of French doors and lots of large windows.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Living Room, Before

 

Living Room, After

The living room is furnished with a charcoal gray area rug, contemporary sofa and leather chairs, and a foyer bench just inside the front door. The natural wood finish of the new doors provides a warming counterbalance to the cool gray walls and white trim.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Living Room, Detail

The stylized American flag in shades of gray is an original art piece that Joanna had specially commissioned for TJ and Stephanie.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Living Room, Detail

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Kitchen, Before

The footprint of the kitchen is expanded, making room for a large island with concrete countertop and bar seats for casual dining.

Kitchen, After

The footprint of the kitchen is significantly expanded, making room for a large kitchen island with stained concrete countertop, built-in storage and bar seating for casual dining. Other highlights include ceiling-height cabinets in medium gray, simple bracket-mounted open shelving and custom vent hood painted in black.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Kitchen, Before

 

Kitchen, After

Other special features in the kitchen include a vertical plate rack, custom made mirror panel and deep farmhouse sink.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Kitchen, Detail

The Brooks' renovated kitchen has a huge island for entertaining guests, concerete countertops, and pendant lighting, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Kitchen, Detail

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Kitchen, Detail

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Kitchen, Detail

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Kitchen, Detail

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Laundry Room, After

The newly relocated laundry room is in a hall space adjacent to the kitchen and serves as a combination laundry, pantry and home office. It features a patterned black, white and gray tile floor — and yet another set of large-scale French doors.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Laundry Room, After

The laundry room also includes this handy work desk and additional open shelving.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Master Bath, Before

In the original floor plan, this laundry/utility room doubled as a the home's sole bathroom — with water heater in full view. Not exactly a spa-like experience.

Master Bath, After

The new master bath, located in what had originally been a bedroom, is spacious and includes a large walk-in shower, an important feature for TJ because of his injury. The shower features a custom-made gridded glass enclosure, twin bench seats and double shower heads.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Master Bath, After

White subway tile and stone countertops are offset by dark hardwood cabinets and tile floor in charcoal gray.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Master Bath, Detail

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Master Bath, Detail

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Master Bath, Detail

The engraved quote on the shower wall has its origins with Stephanie and TJ: "I love you every step of the way."

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Bedroom, Before

 

Bedroom, Before

 

Master Bedroom, After

The new master bedroom is located in a portion of the building that was originally part of the original barn and had dirt floors and tin walls. The newly redefined space has new walls painted in soft gray, white shiplap paneling, new hardwood floors and twin copper reading sconces.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Master Bedroom, After

Joanna's 'wall of windows' offers a panoramic view of the surrounding fields and pasture. "I wanted it to feel really spacious in here," she said. "Anywhere we could put a door or a window, we did."

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Master Bedroom, After

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Master Bedroom, Detail

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Master Bedroom, Detail

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Master Bedroom, Detail

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Before

Prior to the renovation, the barn/house was in rough shape and only nominally fit for human habitation.

After

The newly re-imagined country farmhouse is a spectacular showplace with modern updates, loads of rustic appeal and great outdoor spaces including a revamped front porch and a separate side porch that spans the length of the house. The side porch incorporates a deep deck, outdoor game space and a screened patio area that's ideal for outdoor dining and entertaining.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Front Exterior, Detail

The new porch swing was custom made by wood artisan Clint Harp and personally hung by Chip and Joanna.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Front Exterior, Detail

The garage doors are lightly stained and, in a nod to the building's history, made to resemble vintage barn doors.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Front Exterior, Before

 

Front Exterior, After

The home's updated entry includes all new landscaping, flagstone walkway, rustic exterior sconces, refinished and re-stained porch columns and a new front door with side lights.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Front Exterior, Detail

A tin watering trough, painted black, serves as a planter on the front porch.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Side Porch, Before

This covered area along the side of the building did have a small deck, but was hardly a hospitable space.

Side Porch, After

The space was left with its rustic, country feel, but an expansive elevated deck, updated exterior lighting, a twin set of French doors and four sturdy porch rockers make for a far more inviting space.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Side Porch, After

The side porch even includes a covered game space that's perfect for a game of cornhole.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Side Porch, Detail

Clint Harp custom made the cornhole set and, especially for TJ, added a teak inlay engraved with a U.S. Marines insignia.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Side Porch, Before

 

Side Porch, After

A portion of the side porch is set aside for this screened patio with outdoor dining area,

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Side Porch, After

"I really wanted to make sure that we give them livable space on the outside," said Joanna, "so we have the screened-in porch that I think really is a nice extension off of the front exterior... I just feel like those little elements are the things that really make it special."

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Side Porch, After

The screened patio features two custom made screen-door entrances, dining table and an oversized industrial style ceiling fan.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Side Porch, Detail

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Side Porch, After

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Side Porch, Detail

 

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Front Porch, Detail

Olive trees in dark charcoal ceramic planters bring some green to the covered porch.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

The Reveal

Mr. Gaines prepares to pull back the banner to reveal TJ and Stephanie's newly renovated home.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

The Reveal

TJ's service dog, Macho, waits patiently alongside TJ, eagerly anticipating the big reveal.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

The Reveal

Stephanie and TJ get their first look at their newly re-envisioned home.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

Wait For It...

Were you thinking the story was over? It's not.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

A Question

In a Fixer Upper first, a proposal of marriage — right on camera. TJ pops the question to Stephanie on the steps of their new home.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

An Answer

Stephanie says "yes".

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A

Finis

Okay, now we're done with this Fixer Upper. And if you liked this one, may we suggest that you might also enjoy: "A Country Home Fully Reimagined." And keep checking back here for lots more Fixer Upper.

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

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