Why I won’t ever watch Fixer Upper again….

By Lauren
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    Lauren Greutman Recovering Spender

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    Dear Chip and Joanna Gaines,

    I think you guys are awesome. I really do. I also think your show is awesome. It's so well done and you come up with fantastic and gorgeous home design ideas. Whenever your clients are choosing between 3 houses, I am always rooting for the true ‘fixer upper', the house that needs a TON of work. Seeing the transformation is always incredible.

    I think it was the very first episode that had me hooked… you guys took an old house that was a complete dump, and using that shiplap voodoo magic, turned it in to a home that I would love to live in. And then I made it halfway through season one…

    But I had to stop watching your show.

    It's not you, it's me.

    You see I have had issues in the past being Pinterest Depressed.

    If I am being honest with myself, after every show, I look at my foyer. It's kinda closed off, has the most hideous gray berber carpet, and painted paneling walls that aren't fooling anyone (it's still paneling – however, I did find a way to paint over wood paneling). I know that new floors, removing the closet and opening it to the kitchen, getting rid of the paneling and putting up drywall (or maybe shiplap?) would make it look so good.

    Paint Paneling FB

    I then look at my dining room and kitchen. Why is there such a huge wall between those rooms? I'd love to see that wall demo'd and open up the space between them. And some new floors making the dining room and kitchen match would tie the two rooms together to one beautiful, open, seamless cooking/eating area.

    Then, if the dining room was open with the kitchen, there would be no need for the eat-in area currently in my kitchen. Finally, the kitchen would have space to be the large kitchen it was meant to be. Some new counters, cabinets, and probably appliances would be all that it would take.

    Oh and my oven? My wall oven isn't a true 30″ oven. It's like 25″. I can't fit most roasting pans in there. Very frustrating. And I have an electric cook top without a hood… I would definitely prefer natural gas.

    Ok I'll stop now… these are all the things I'd LOVE to do to my house. Especially since we've embraced the charm of our smallish home and decided not to move, we might as well make it the best we can, right?


    In time, maybe I will get to those projects. In fact, there are many projects that I can do myself to increase my home's valueBut when I watch Fixer Upper, I become unsatisfied with what I already have. I look at my house and instead of being thankful, I find all of the flaws and imperfections with it. I suddenly want to do all of those expensive home renovations NOW. I mean the whole point of NOT moving was so that I could be content with what I had, but watching Fixer Upper is making me discontent.

    Many of my friends watch the show and LOVE it. And I love it too… but they don't have these creeping feelings of discontentment like I do – it's pure entertainment mixed in with some great decorating ideas for them. And of course you two – you are entertaining and seem to have a fantastic marriage and family. All great things that I value.

    But I also have a history of placing value on material possession. I've had to re-adjust my values to be aligned with the things that really matter in my life. And anything – even if it is has many amazing qualities (like Fixer Upper) – if it threatens to take me back to a mindset of misaligned values, I have to avoid it.

    Like I said earlier, it's not the show's fault. It's mine.

    In fact, I wrote an entire book about my struggles with discontentment and spending issues called The Recovering Spender. Since I know what my struggles are, I also know what my boundaries are. There are certain things I can put in my brain and certain things that I have to stay away from. And sorry Chip and Joanna, but your show doesn't make the cut.

    And here's the thing, I know I'm not alone. I look around… I know so many people who are in a constant state of home improvement – sinking lots of money into their homes to get each little detail just right. And look – there's nothing wrong with taking pride in your home. I think my home is beautiful (just had it painted last summer) and I'm not afraid to make improvements to it.

    But am I content with it? Yes. I really am. And that's a big deal for me. But when I watch Fixer Upper, it draws me towards discontentment. And that leads me down a dangerous and expensive path that I've traveled one too many times.

    I've learned that I just have to stay away from shows like that. Maybe even the entire HGTV channel. It's just not good for my soul… or my bank account.

    I'm sorry to break up with you and your show… It's not you, it's me.


    The Recovering Spender



  • Lauren, I can relate, when I watch their show or any other show that does improvements, I’m green with envy, but I also know that I have a beautiful home, and as my husband says, one project at a time when the funds are there. Unfortunately sometimes life just does not let you do them, and the funds go to something that is much more pressing. Love the article. Lisa

  • Really, upon deeper thought…you are sensing a problem you still have deep within yourself. It could be anything…a newer better car, expensive clothes, spa visits…you struggle with materialism. As I was reading your article that became clearly unearthed. If you go to the core of those feelings your path may lead you back to childhood…and perhaps feelings of not being enough based upon material things your family couldn’t afford. The beauty in it all is that you’ve recognized and taken steps to diminish those nagging feelings. Everyone has a struggle…don’t feel too bad.

    • These are all great points and yes I feel like there may be something deeper. I talked about my upbringing in my book and how from an early age I always loved nice things. I am thankful that I can set boundaries like this, and even though I LOVE the, the show makes me want to start taking walls down in my house, lol.

  • Lauren, love that you shared this perspective. I think it’s wise to avoid influences that move us towards discontentment or prevent us from seeing the good in what we have. I felt this way about Pinterest for a while and took a long break from using it for personal reasons. I felt like I was just accumulating a giant board of
    “things I don’t have.”

  • YES!! I have broken up with all nearly all my magazine subscriptions because that is the entire point. They are filled with beautiful, non-messy home settings. Totally impractical. And filled with ads for totally cool stuff I never knew I needed. The subscription only $5 a year but totally ruining my life. I had to stop it. I. Get. It.

  • Hmm, it does suck that we’re seeing all kinds of beautiful, spendy images. It’s all about being content with what you have, and if Fixer Upper makes you feel differently, you’re better off without it. 🙂 I do think it’s healthy to upgrade your home to improve your value–but most people aren’t going to do a full-on Gaines renovation. I’m less than thrilled about Fixer Upper because I feel that it’s encouraged people to start flipping houses for a living–when they have no business flipping houses at all!

  • Great article Lauren! I occasionally watch HGTV but everytime I start feeling discontent, I just stop watching for a few weeks/months and the feeling is gone.

    You could probably do an additional post on Facebook having the same effect on people.

  • I also stopped watching but for more reasons than you discussed. First of all Joanna is cool, she’s pretty, she has a great life and tons of money. But I am not Joanna and you’re not either. What works for her is not necessarily what works for everyone. I see way too many posts on Pinterest showing us how to do exactly what she does, to furnish our homes to look like farm houses even if they’re Spanish style homes in the suburbs. While doing a room in shiplap on the cheap sounds appealing, and you think “oh its just $150″…that stuff adds up. Your $20 DIY farmhouse sign, the baskets, the paint, supplies, hardware, etc etc really add up. And what about the other cost? What happens when all of that goes out of style? You’ll have to find a new design guru and buy all new stuff. Its an emotional cost, always chasing whats current, whats hot, whats new. I have learned over the years that its so important to decorate however the heck you want!! If yellow is the “it color” this year and you love yellow go for it. But dont just use a color because someone tells you its amazing. Looking at Pinterest can be inspiring but it can also be very discouraging when you realize you dont have the time or the money to duplicate rooms you love. Do what you like, do what feels good, do what will last.

  • TV shows always make it seem SO easy to profit from house flipping when in reality, this is a really really hard business.

    I just find it a shame that so many people fall for it and guess their way through house flipping.

  • Can’t we watch anything anymore just for entertainment? Can’t we just watch this show and sit back and share in the joy of the people being blessed? I love this program and am thrilled for those that benefit from the Gainees … two very talented people.

  • It’s All About Gratitude

    The houses in Wacho, TX are very very inexpensive & fixing them up in Joanna & Chip style is still a whole lot less than what an average home (and with acreage) costs most of us & without all that ‘stuff’ & seems a $150K fixer upper can get you what you are seeing. Could your envy be the result of the lack of gratitude for what you do have?

    • I certainly don’t have a lack of gratitude. I think everyone has their weaknesses – some can’t do sweets, some can’t drink, I can’t watch fixer upper. I think it is a brave thing to say what your weaknesses on, because it can help others with the same struggles.

  • I think it’s awesome that you are so self-aware, and know where you are in your life and home.
    Personally I’m still in the “move every few years and live on military bases” so the idea and dreams of a forever home are fulfilled by Fixer-Upper. But I bet that I too will stop watching once I have my home, so as not to become unsatisfied with what I have.

  • I love the show, but like you, I get excited about projects I want to do and then it just overwhelms me and I get depressed. I am always so shocked at the budgets these people have, but I will say I appreciate how they do utilize old stuff, paint it, stain it, whatever it needs and save a little money that way…..also gives me ideas. I drive my husband crazy with all my DIY projects, but I say be glad I’m doing it, right? I am currently doing the dreaded painting of the paneling!

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