Quantcast
Photo courtesy of Magnolia

“Are you ready to see your fixer upper?” the enthusiastic tour guide asked, channeling Chip and Joanna Gaines and their famous “big reveal” line from TV’s Fixer Upper. This time, it wasn't the home owners waiting outside a first glimpse at their home makeover; it was a small group of tourists gathered on the porch, ready to step inside the Gaineses’ most ambitious renovation project yet — a century-old castle in Waco.

For the first time ever, Texas’ king and queen of renovation have unlocked the doors and let the public into one of their famed fixer-uppers before it’s featured on their Magnolia Network show.

Known as the historic Cottonland Castle, this three-story, 6,700-square-foot residence was started in 1890 and finished in 1913. The Gaineses purchased the dilapidated structure in 2019 and designed and executed a regal flip that will be featured on an eight-episode special called Fixer Upper: Welcome Home – The Castle, beginning October 14.

They plan to sell it in the fall. But before a home sale comes an open house, and for three months only — through October 29 — the castle is open six days a week for guided tours.

Hour-long castle expeditions take visitors through every room, nook, and cranny — from turret to toilettes. Knowledgeable guides dispense history, impart design information, and reveal behind-the-scenes stories from Chip and Jo that may or may not make it on TV.

For Fixer Upper fans, Magnolia maniacs, and Gaines gangs, it's worth a drive up I-35 to Waco to experience the castle transformation in real life before it hits the small screen. A tour offers the very rare chance to walk through the door (in this case, a 10-foot-tall, 400-pound, solid-oak door) into the world of a Chip-and-Jo reno.

Without revealing too much, here are seven fun surprises you’ll find behind the castle walls.

1. History meets homey. A castle museum, this is not.

“Chip and Joanna’s vision was that they really wanted to honor it with historical pieces but also make it more practical for the modern family that’s going to live here in the future,” guide Megan Shuler said at the beginning of the tour.

While many original features — including seven fireplaces — were restored, the castle has been fixed up as a home for the future, not a shrine to the past. One-of-a-kind and collected antiques (such as the kingly dining room table from Round Top, Texas) blend with pieces from the Gaineses’ own Magnolia Home collection. A 17-page “Castle Sourcebook” lists design elements and products and where to buy them. And in the ultimate modern touch — a branding tie-in — a forthcoming “Colors of the Castle” paint collection will be available through Magnolia this fall.

2. Sweet nods to the castle’s past. Posted on the wall in the foyer is a poem written by Alfred Abeel, the owner who completed construction in 1913. It talks of making the castle “‘home sweet home’ all seasons of the year.”

On the center of the dining room fireplace mantel is Abeel’s family crest, along with the phrase (in Latin), “God’s providence saves me.” Next to it, children’s heights are recorded from the 1930s to the early 2000s, the last time a family lived here.

3. A cozy nook in the turret. The original design was modeled after a small castle on the Rhine River in Germany, and there is one tower turret. A space historically used (in “real” castles) for military defense has, here, been turned into one of the coziest corners of the house. Tucked into a corner next to the winding staircase, two comfy chairs sit under an antique-y light fixture from Austria. It's the perfect place to curl up with a book from the library upstairs.

4. Rooms with storylines. “One of the challenges Chip and Joanna had when they bought the castle was, there was no one, really, they were designing it for,” Shuler explained. “So they would create storylines for each room to help tell their story.”

Two of the four bedrooms, for example, are the “boy’s bedroom,” and “girl’s bedroom.” The storylines are that the future homeowner’s son would come back from college and stay in his childhood bedroom, and that the future homeowner’s granddaughters would stay in the room while hanging out at the grandparents’ house.

The boy’s room contains more masculine furnishings and decor, including a watercolor portrait of Roy Lane, the famous architect who helped complete the castle. The girl’s room is painted in “Rose Pink,” a color named after Joanna’s grandmother.

5. Bodacious bathrooms. There are three-and-a-half “throne rooms” in the castle, and they’re some of the prettiest spaces, mixing metals, woods, and tiles; even original radiators look like works of art. One of the most spectacular rooms in the house, in fact, is a grand, gleaming bathroom — which (tease!) will be fully revealed on the show.

6. Party in the basement. “Gathering spaces” are a hallmark of Chip and Jo’s homes, and in the castle, they take place in the dungeon — er, basement. A “card room” for poker games or family game nights sits next to the family room, which houses the only TV in the castle. The guest bedroom’s also in the basement, along with a laundry room and a former wine cellar now left “blank” for the new owners to reimagine.

7. Behind-the-scenes tales and tidbits. Fixer Upper devotees will devour the charming and quirky tidbits about the Gaineses shared throughout the tour. There are a few design elements and furnishings originally meant for their own home, including an item banished to the castle by their daughters. There’s a fun story about what Chip did when they found bones — yes, bones — in the basement. And, the prime selfie spot for Fixer Upper fans is a large mirror that, the tour guides say, Joanna used to touch up her makeup during the filming of the show.

Castle tour tickets, $50, are available through the website, with 20 percent of proceeds benefiting The Cove nonprofit organization. (Note that the home does not have an elevator and requires guests’ ability to access three staircases.)

Tips for a Magnolia pilgrimage in Waco:
Shop: No castle jaunt would be complete without a stop at the Magnolia Silos complex. A new 8:15 am tour, offered Monday through Saturday, takes visitors behind the scenes and on the roof before the crowds (and the heat) arrive. Hint: August is a “slower” month at the Silos, and Tuesday through Thursday are less crowded. Tour tickets are $25 and come with a free coffee from Magnolia Press.

Eat: Chip and Joanna’s Magnolia Table cafe stays busy all day, every day. If you don’t have time to wait for a table, visit the takeaway market next door. Grab to-go items like pimiento cheese and crackers, a butter flight, banana pudding, and chicken salad sandwiches, and enjoy them on a table outside (if it's not too hot).

Stay: Availability at Magnolia’s four vacation rentals can be hard to come by, but watch the website for nights to pop open. Make it a girls’ getaway with a stay at the grand Hillcrest Estate (which sleeps 12), or go solo and book the darling Hillcrest Cottage, the Gaineses’ newest and smallest lodging, which opened in fall 2021. A forthcoming Magnolia boutique hotel, in the historic Grand Karem Shrine building downtown, is slated to open in 2024.

The castle will be on tour only through the end of October, before it's featured on a special season of Fixer Upper - Wecome Home.

Photo courtesy of Magnolia
The castle will be on tour only through the end of October, before it's featured on a special season of Fixer Upper - Wecome Home.
Photo by Charro Photography

Austin builder unveils sleek prefabricated luxury homes starting at $600,000

High-end housing

A Buda homebuilder has brought a high-end approach to a type of housing that has often been lumped into the low-end category.

Escobedo Group has introduced a “panelized” construction system that enables a luxury home to be prefabricated and then installed on a homesite within roughly five months. So far, more than 70 of the company’s DARIO Villas homes have been built.

Over the years, prefab construction has frequently been associated with cheap, mass-produced housing. Following World War II, the British embraced prefab construction to address a severe housing shortage. Amid the 19th century’s California Gold Rush, prospectors relied on prefab homes to quickly provide shelter.

In recent years, prefab homes have gained fans as construction techniques have grown more sophisticated.

“DARIO is a better way to build. The construction method we have designed is more efficient and dramatically reduces construction waste while saving the client the most precious commodity — their time,” David Escobedo, co-owner of Escobedo Group, tells CultureMap.

Escobedo Group, founded in 1987, official launched the DARIO brand in June.

DARIO touts the ability to construct and assemble a home in a matter of months rather than, in some cases, a few years.

A buyer can choose from among three floor plans with one, two, or three bedrooms, and then select an interior package. A one-bedroom DARIO home starts at $600,000. Larger options go for $1 million or more.

A DARIO home measures anywhere from 800 to 20,000 square feet.

Escobedo constructs the home panels at its 60,000-square-foot facility in Buda, then delivers them to a homesite and puts together the new home within hours. The panels include all of the components needed for a home, such as the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems. Each home features steel framing and a pier-and-beam foundation.

Optional add-ons include:

  • Roof-mounted solar power
  • Battery storage to supply electricity during power outages
  • Eco-friendly water collection, storage, and filtration

The end product looks like any built-from-the-ground-up luxury home you might spot along Lake Austin, at Lake Travis, or in West Lake Hills.

Escobedo’s DARIO homes are currently available in Texas, Colorado, and Oklahoma. The company says they can be placed in pretty much any residential setting, from a rural ranch to a cliffside locale.

“Whether you need a new guest house, vacation retreat, or expanded living space, this is truly revolutionizing the way building is done. The complications and mess of construction are a thing of the past,” the homebuilder says.

The end products look like any luxury home you might spot along Lake Austin, at Lake Travis, or in West Lake Hills.

Photo by Aman Johnson, Johnson Media Co.

The end products look like any luxury home you might spot along Lake Austin, at Lake Travis, or in West Lake Hills.
Courtesy of DH Photography, Compass

Unique Lake Travis glass home featured on HGTV hits market for $1.2 million

Life in a glass house

A treehouse-like home near Lake Travis that’s been featured on HGTV can now be yours for $1.2 million.

The 1,653-square-foot house, just south of Hudson Bend at 2803 Manitou Dr., offers two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and plenty of rugged yet modern charm. The home is in the Apace Shores neighborhood.

Highlights of the contemporary home, situated on a half-acre wooded lot, include 30-foot-high glass walls and 11 sets of sliding glass doors. The two-story house, built in 2003 as architect John Allen’s own residence, is one of the few homes in the vicinity that provide private access to the Indian Creek hiking trail.

Allen “believed that the rugged and what many called ‘unbuildable’ lot was the perfect spot to accomplish his vision of living one with nature due to the greenery of the adjacent hiking trail, along with the sun, moon, stars, and thunderstorms as seen through glass walls and balconies,” the listing agent, Monica Fabbio of Compass, tells CultureMap.

Aside from being featured in 2007 on the HGTV series Look What I Did, the house recently served as the main shooting location for an upcoming movie. Viewers of the movie will notice that decks and patios grace all four sides of the hillside home, which is set back from a cul-de-sac. Nearby waterfalls and a spring-fed creek add to the ambiance.

“A dramatic rock wall and bridge entrance to the home make for amazing settings,” the listing says.

An adjacent second lot, which is undeveloped, is included in the sale.

Allen, who originally designed the glass-and-steel home as his “bachelor pad” before eventually getting hitched, sold the house in 2007 to the current owner.

“We heard the word ‘impossible’ more than once when it came to building our house,” says Suzanne Allen, the architect’s wife. “It’s a word that would discourage many people, but for John and me, the word invigorates, motivates, and inspires. In the process of building our house, we proved that with imagination, persistence, and resolution, the impossible idea becomes an achievable reality.”

Many called the lot at 2803 Manitou Dr "unbuildable," but architect John Allen saw its true potential.

Courtesy of DH Photography, Compass
Many called the lot at 2803 Manitou Dr "unbuildable," but architect John Allen saw its true potential.

Waco’s favorite fixer uppers finally debut their Magnolia Network

Holy Shiplap

Are y’all ready to see a lot of Fixer Upper? Cruise on over to Chip and Joanna Gaines’ new Magnolia Network, which finally just premiered on cable TV, taking over the old DIY Network and building the Waco-based couple’s entertainment empire even bigger.

The new station, which the Gaineses announced way back in 2018, stealthily jumped from streaming platform (Discovery+) to cable world overnight on January 5, then aired an entire day’s worth of Fixer Upper reruns before officially making its official launch official at 8 pm ... with Fixer Upper: Welcome Home.

The Waco TV stars had promised more than themselves, though. And they made good on it. By day two, viewers got a marathon of Maine Cabin Masters and the introduction of The Lost Kitchen, one of Magnolia’s new original shows. Then more Fixer Upper.

As reported by People magazine, in addition to five seasons’ worth of Fixer Upper, the Gaineses are launching the network with “a huge slate of original programming throughout the month of January,” including Magnolia Table with Joanna Gaines, Restoration Road with Clint Harp, Home Work, Family Dinner, The Johnnyswim Show, Mind for Design, and Zoë Bakes.

Next month, two more original series will premiere, the magazine says — Super Dad and The Lost Kitchen — as well as season 2 of Magnolia Table. In March, season 3 of Magnolia Table will drop, they say, along with three more series: Ranch to Table, Inn the Works, and Homegrown.

Missing from that three-month planner is Self Employed, the Magnolia original series starring Texas entrepreneur Jonathan Morris.

In the show, Morris travels around the country meeting inspiring small-business owners, who share stories of success, challenge, and resilience — along with lessons and best practices to inspire other entrepreneurs. The series debuted last summer, with all eight episodes now available to subscribers of the Magnolia App and Discovery+.

Given the grave omission of Self Employed from the Magnolia lineup, CultureMap reached out to a network spokesperson to find out when the show might make its TV debut, and whether another season was coming.

“We do not have a cable premiere date for Self Employed yet, as our original shows will premiere throughout the year,” spokesperson Taylor Griffin said by email. “No news yet on a season 2 either, but will keep you posted.”

In a December news release, the Gaineses said, “We’ve been amazed by the stories and storytellers we’ve found, people whose lives are living proof that our world is full of beauty, hope, courage, and curiosity. We can’t wait to see these stories brought to life on cable this January, and we’re hopeful about the impact it might have — to help reclaim the best of what television can be.”

Magnolia Network is available now for cable subscribers who previously had DIY Network.

Facebook/Magnolia Network

Texas' Chip and Joanna Gaines unveil long-awaited launch date of new Magnolia Network

TV news

Fans of Chip and Joanna Gaines have been ready to see their Fixer Upper reboot — and the rest of their Magnolia Network content — since they announced their new cable network in 2018.

After a couple of coronavirus-related delays, they've finally revealed a launch date. Two launch dates, actually.

  • On July 15, 2021, Magnolia Network will debut on a new Magnolia app and the streaming platform Discovery+.
  • In January 2022, the new Magnolia Network will debut on cable TV.

“In what has been the most unconventional of years, our plan and timing for the network launch has evolved, but our original vision for this network has remained the same," the Waco-based reality TV entrepreneurs said in a statement February 11.

That vision is still to "tell good stories — stories that unite instead of divide; stories that serve to inspire and uphold beauty; stories that entertain and draw out curiosities; stories that feel like home in all the ways a home should feel," they say on the network's website.

Notably, the Magnolia Network will feature their Fixer Upper reboot, as well as Joanna Gaines' cooking show called (what else?) Magnolia Table with Joanna Gaines, and Self Employed, a series about entrepreneurs hosted by Fort Worth resident Jonathan Morris.

The first 10 Magnolia Network shows were unveiled in a TV special last spring. Content focuses on people who are living life passionately and authentically, the Gaineses say, and covers topics the couple themselves are passionate about: home design, restoration and renovation, gardening, cooking, wellness, business, family, and traditions.

According to Deadline, Magnolia Network was supposed to take over DIY Network in October 2020, followed by a direct-to-consumer product at a later date. COVID-19 shut down Hollywood production, which pushed everything back.

"Meanwhile, Discovery launched their SVOD platform Discovery+ last month as the pandemic accelerated traditional media companies’ shift to streaming as a leading distribution method," Deadline says. "The Magnolia brand has been a key — and growing — part of the Discovery+ lineup with previews of many of its original series, led by the new season of the Gaines’ hit Fixer Upper."

While Fixer Upper: Welcome Home can be seen now on Discovery+, starting July 15, the platform will stream an expanded lineup of Magnolia shows. The Gaines' Magnolia app is expected to stream their original series and over 150 hours of unscripted content.

Discovery+ currently costs $4.99 per month, with a free trail available here.

Those who don’t want to stream yet another service will have to wait patiently for about another year until Magnolia Network launches as a rebranded DIY Network on their cable or satellite provider. In January 2022, the new TV network will carry not only Magnolia originals but new seasons of favorite DIY shows, they say.

Photo courtesy of HGTV

Chip and Joanna Gaines relaunch Fixer Upper and debut new show with Texas star

big gaines

Are y'all ready to see more Fixer Upper? Apparently Chip and Joanna Gaines were, too, as the HGTV home renovation show that made them stars is getting a new season on their forthcoming Magnolia Network.

The Gaineses announced the Fixer Upper return in a short video, filled with their signature lovable quirkiness, posted to social media the morning of Tuesday, August 4.

In it, they're driving around their home town, Waco, when Joanna says to Chip that she saw his hammer and tool belt in the car. "What's that about?," she asks, to which he replies, "Just in case." He declares he has a surprise for her, and when they arrive at an old house, he tells her he's signed them up for another season of Fixer Upper.

"I've kind of missed it," Joanna admits, and they walk toward the house.

Fixer Upper — HGTV's biggest hit of all time — ended in 2018. Since then, the Gaineses have had a fifth child and created their own Magnolia Network, which is set to replace the DIY Network. Magnolia's launch was pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fixer Upper was not included as part of the Magnolia lineup revealed in a sneak peek back in April, though the network promised plenty of Gaines family footage. On the heels of her second cookbook release, Joanna will be cooking with friends, they promised. And Chip will get plenty more "demo day" action as they continue to take on big renovation projects around Waco, they say. (Here are the first 10 shows revealed on the network.)

Along with the Fixer Upper announcement, the Gaineses revealed to Deadline that two new shows would launch on Magnolia, and one has a new Texas star.

"Self Employed (working title) follows Fort Worth, Texas-based entrepreneur Jonathan Morris as he travels the United States meeting some of the country’s most inspiring small business owners. Together, they will share stories of unwavering resilience, insatiable ambition and the winding roads they’ve traveled to successfully build their dream jobs," Deadline says, adding that due to the pandemic, the first season will likely be filmed in Texas towns within driving distance of DFW.

The other new show, they say, is an untitled series starring self-taught interior designer Brian Patrick Flynn.

According to a blog post by Chip, the new season of Fixer Upper will start when the Magnolia Network launches in 2021. He writes that he and Joanna were not expecting to bring the show back when they wrapped production a few years ago.

"I mean it when I say that it wasn’t more than a few weeks ago that we first talked about returning to the show," he writes. "I mentioned it to Jo, fully expecting her to tell me I was crazy. But instead, in a real sincere way, she told me she’d been missing it too. I get that it all may seem a little impulsive and that might be true. But the more Jo and I talked it over, the more we began to see it for what it really is: an opportunity to get to share with you some of the projects we care most about."

They're currently casting for season six in the Waco area. More information here.

Chip and JoJo are back on TV.

Photo courtesy of HGTV
Chip and JoJo are back on TV.
Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Affluent Austin suburb boasts one of the biggest holiday budgets, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. Affluent Austin suburb cashes in with one of the biggest holiday budgets in the U.S. Cedar Park boasts a jolly big holiday budget of $2,855 per person this year — the 14th highest in the U.S.


2. Acclaimed Hill Country winery pours onto list of the world's 100 best for 2022. The celebrated vineyard near Fredericksburg just uncorked a coveted spot on an exclusive list.

3. Texas billionaire Tilman Fertitta acquires award-winning California resort. The Billion Dollar Buyer scooped up one of only six hotels in the U.S. with the Forbes Triple Five-Star rating.

4. 100-plus comedians set to make Austin laugh in Moontower's 2023 festival lineup. Trevor Noah is one of Moontower's exciting 2023 headliners.

5. Renovated UT Austin museum set to reopen in 2023 with exciting new exhibits. The Texas Memorial Museum will reopen in fall 2023 with new exhibits.

New self-guided tour showcases iconic Fort Worth Stockyards' many Hollywood ties

Tinseltown in Cowtown

A new self-guided tour showcasing the Fort Worth Stockyards’ many star-studded appearances in cinema throughout the years recently debuted in time for the 16th annual Lone Star Film Festival, which took place earlier this month in the Stockyards for the first time.

Called Stars of the Stockyards, the eight-stop, go-at-your-own pace walking tour guides folks to famous film sites where celebrities have stepped foot in front of Hollywood cameras. Visitors to the Stockyards can access the PDF tour map on their smart phones via QR codes (no app required) posted throughout the district, namely at hotels and tour kiosks.

"The Stockyards is a historic and celebrated destination for many reasons, but one that may be lesser known is its popularity as a filming location for some of our favorite movies and TV series," said Ethan Cartwright, VP of marketing for Stockyards Heritage Development Co.

The tour and corresponding QR codes are a permanent addition to the district, he said.

Stops on the map include the iconic White Elephant Saloon, a hotbed for Hollywood performances including several by legendary actor and martial artist Chuck Norris in the longtime TV series, Walker, Texas Ranger when the watering hole was portrayed as the fictional CD Bar. The White Elephant was also graced by country music superstar Tim McGraw and Academy Award-winning actor Billy Bob Thornton for their appearances in Paramount Plus’ hit series 1883.

Also in 1883 and featured on the tour is Hookers Grill, hidden in the less flashy West side of Exchange Ave. The burger shack transformed into a gambling den in the show called The Texas House of Liquor & Sport. It’s the only building in the Stockyards that preserved the façade constructed by 1883’s production team. During operating hours, customers can order at the outdoor burger window and dine at patio tables within the two-story structure.

Cowtown Coliseum is marked on the map for its appearances in the 1983 film Tough Enough, where actor Dennis Quaid played an amateur boxer. It’s also the home of the final rodeo scene in the 1992 movie Pure Country starring country music legend George Strait.

Billy Bob’s Texas, the Stockyards Hotel, and even unassuming historic cattle pens also make the list on the tour, along with notations for the Texas Trail of Fame, which features more than 240 bronze markers honoring contributors for preserving and perpetuating the Western way of life.

Veteran actors Sam Elliot and Robert Duvall, both stars in the megahit TV series Yellowstone, are among the most recent Texas Trail of Fame inductees.

For more information and to get started on the tour, go here.

Favorite Austin burger chain joins local music nonprofit for $50,000 grant campaign

Musical Tastes

In Austin, the bell of the ball is the rockstar. Black Fret, a nonprofit that creates gigs and organizes funding for local musicians, makes sure these rock stars get their spotlight at the annual Black Fret Ball, now in its ninth year, and this time with some unexpected help from a burger bar.

Staff at Hopdoddy Burger Bar (a local favorite for lovers of toppings) got to nominate their favorite artists from across the country for a total of $50,000 in grants, an initiative called “Tuned In.” The restaurant asked guests to vote on favorites and landed on a group of nine final artists, including one from Austin.

Bonnie Whitmore, an Austinite, a singer, and a bassist, makes nostalgic country and Americana with bold, feminist themes. Although her candid tone matches that of the pop stars taking over the industry from their bedrooms, she’s been an active member of the music industry for more than 20 years.

Other Texas musicians made the final nine: Gold Fighter, from Dallas, leans back into the good old days of pop punk; Piñata Protest, from San Antonio, also plays pop punk while moving the needle more into Tejano traditions; and Will Van Horn, from Houston, makes the pedal steel languidly cool and a little psychedelic. (Listeners may recognize Van Horn’s work in records by the unique and popular Houston trio Khruangbin.)

The Black Fret Ball is returning for its first in-person year since 2019, on Saturday, December 3 at ACL Live at the Moody Theater. The fundraiser will distribute grants totaling $250,000 to 20 local artists, with performances from all but two. The 2022 class of musicians includes Whitmore, rap duo Blackillac, blues guitarist Buffalo Nichols, R&B singer Mélat, and one of Austin’s most frequently booked and buzzed about bands, Quentin and the Past Lives.

Black Fret members ($750 annually) are invited to join the ball at 6 pm. See the local lineup at hopdoddy.com.