Joanna Gaines Makes a Mistake: Find Out What Design Move Can Ruin a Kitchen (and How Chip Saves the Day)

Chip and Joanna

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Chip and Joanna Gaines are about to cross the finish line with their latest big project (and series), “Fixer Upper: The Castle.”

“We’re eight months into our 11-month renovation, and it’s finally starting to come together,” Joanna says at the beginning of the latest episode, “Getting It Right.”

Still, the two run into some big problems last minute—particularly in the kitchen, where Chip thinks one of Joanna’s design choices looks like “a prank.” And although Chip loves a good gag, he does not mean this in a good way!

Read on to find out how Chip’s design intervention keeps their latest project heading in the right direction—and learn plenty of lessons that could apply to your own humble abode.

Restore old doors for added character

old doors
These old doors needed some work.

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Chip and Joanna are passionate about preserving as much of this historic castle as they can, taking care to reuse plenty of the original features. However, some pieces are damaged and worn out, so the couple need to refurbish or refresh some items, including a set of doors that lead to the conservatory. They have the doors restored, and when they’re delivered back to the castle, Joanna is delighted.

“The way they looked a couple of months ago, a lot of the wood was rotted,” she says. She’s relieved “that we could restore these, piece these back together, and they look good as new.”

refurbished doors
Joanna and Chip Gaines install the refurbished doors.

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Joanna helps Chip install the doors, which complete the conservatory. It’s clear that taking the time to refurbish, instead of replacing, these old doors was the right choice.

doors
The doors make the conservatory feel extra welcoming.

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Kitchen countertops should never block a window

windows
New cabinets are going into the castle.

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While Joanna’s design for the kitchen and the butler’s pantry seem fairly straightforward, there is one problem: the windows.

“I’m putting a kitchen in two rooms that weren’t existing kitchens. So the windowsill is lower than the counter height, both in the kitchen and the butler’s pantry,” Joanna explains.

While she planned to simply work around the issue with a cleverly crafted waterfall counter, Chip isn’t happy with the look.

“When I walked in and Jo had created some kind of a Tetris situation with the cabinets and the beautiful window, I thought, ‘Oh, I bet this is a prank,'” he admits.

window
The window is a little lower than the new cabinets.

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Chip says they simply can’t leave the windows as is.

“We’ve got to raise this window up and we’re going to fix the exterior either by trim or masonry,” he says. “But you don’t do cabinets up against an existing window. That’s not functional and logical.”

Removing the bottom section of window will require a decent chunk of money and time, with Chip saying it will take an extra two weeks. But the pair conclude that the extra effort is worth it.

“You’re making it 100 times better. You’re making it look natural,” Joanna tells Chip. It goes to show that while it can be important and beneficial to keep the original features of an old home, sometimes it makes sense to make a change.

Beware of buying from abroad

light
This light is beautiful, but it needs to be repaired.

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Before Joanna can stage the home, there are still some small problems that need to be fixed, including a light fixture. Chip explains that he can’t attach the rod to the base because a thread broke. This is frustrating because the light is actually new, a piece imported from Austria.

“They don’t even use the standard system there,” Chip says when trying to fix the light. “The math on this is virtually impossible.”

It’s a great reminder that buying from abroad might cause extra complications, particularly when the electrical may be different.

Choose timeless colors

awning
Joanna thought long and hard about the color of these window awnings.

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In this episode, Joanna is faced with another important decision: awning colors.

“Back in the day, they had black and white awnings but then they got removed,” she explains. “And a lot of the water damage was because the awnings were removed, so I’m just going to do a simple metal awning because that will stand the test of time. I don’t want to have to redo the fabric, you know, every three or four years.”

The custom metal awnings are simple but elegant, and while Joanna knows these additions should be dark, she’s stuck between two colors: black and a greenish-brown hue. She can’t decide on the spot, so she takes samples back to the castle to look at the colors with the stone. Once she sees the tones next to the house, she’s sure black is the right choice.

“This feels the most timeless and original,” she says.

Choose coordinating colors that have a classic style

fireplace
This basement fireplace used to be green.

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In the home’s old basement, Joanna is creating a card room that she’s hoping will feel classic and moody by covering the walls with stained wood paneling. The only thing left to do is choose finishes for the fireplace and the carpet design.

“Really the only place we can add a little bit of texture or color or interest is on the fireplace and on the carpet, and so I want those two things to kind of play together,” she says.

Joanna Gaines
After much deliberation, Joanna selects darker tones.

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Of the samples, she chooses black stone for the fireplace and a dark gray plaid pattern for the carpet. It’s a moody combo that works well together and proves that classic colors are a sure choice in a historic place.

card room
This card room will look dark and moody.

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