Chip and Joanna Gaines (pictured in the dining room) took around a year to renovate the chateau, which will go on sale in the fall.

“Are you ready to see your fixer upper?” asked the enthusiastic tour guide, channeling Chip and Joanna Gaines and their famous TV ‘big reveal’ line Upper fixator. This time, it wasn’t the homeowners waiting outside for a first glimpse of their home’s renovation; it was a small group of tourists gathered on the porch, ready to enter the Gaines’ most ambitious renovation project to date – a century-old castle in Waco.

For the first time ever, the home improvement king and queen of Texas have unlocked the doors and let the public into one of their famous fix-ups before it’s featured on their Magnolia Network show.

Known as the historical cottonland castlethis three-story, 6,700-square-foot residence was begun in 1890 and completed in 1913. The Gaineses purchased the dilapidated structure in 2019 and designed and executed a regal turnaround that will be featured in an eight-episode television special titled Fixer Upper: Welcome Home – The Castlefrom October 14.

They plan to sell it in the fall. But before a house sale comes an open house, and for just three months – until October 29 – the chateau is open six days a week for guided tours.

Hour-long expeditions into the castle take visitors to every room, nook and cranny – from the turret to bathroom. Knowledgeable guides dispense history, pass on design information, and reveal behind-the-scenes stories of Chip and Jo that may or may not be on TV.

For Upper fixator fans, Magnolia maniacs and Gaines gang, it’s worth riding I-35 to Waco to experience the castle’s real-life transformation before it hits the small screen. A visit offers 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 giving too much away, here are seven fun surprises you’ll find behind the castle walls.

1. History meets intimacy. A castle-museum, this is not the case.

“Chip and Joanna’s vision was that they really wanted to honor it with historic pieces, but also make it more convenient for the modern family who will be living here in the future,” tour guide Megan Shuler said at the start of the tour. visit.

While many of the original features – including seven fireplaces – have been restored, the castle has been laid out as a home for the future, not a sanctuary for the past. Unique and collectible antiques (such as the royal dining table from Round Top, Texas) mingle with pieces from the Gaines’ own Magnolia Home collection. A 17 page Castle Sourcebook lists design elements and products and where to buy them. And in the ultimate modern twist – a branded tie – an upcoming “Colors of the Castle” paint collection will be available through Magnolia this fall.

2. Sweet nods to the castle’s past. A poem written by Alfred Abeel, the owner who completed the building in 1913, is displayed on the lobby wall. He talks about making the castle “‘home sweet home’ all seasons of the year.”

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

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

4. Pieces with storylines. “One of the challenges Chip and Joanna faced when they bought the castle was that there really wasn’t anyone they were designing it for,” Shuler explained. “So they would create scenarios for each room to help tell their story.”

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

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

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

6. Party in the basement. “Gathering spaces” are a feature of Chip and Jo’s homes, and in the castle, they take place in the dungeon – er, the basement. A “card room” for poker games or family game nights is located next to the family room, which houses the castle’s only television. The guest bedroom is also in the basement, as well as a laundry room and an old wine cellar now left “empty” so that the new owners can reinvent it.

7. Behind-the-scenes stories and treats. Upper fixator enthusiasts will devour the charming and quirky snippets about the Gaines shared throughout the tour. There are a few design elements and furniture originally intended for their own home, including an item banished to the castle by their daughters. There’s a funny story about what Chip did when they found bones – yes, bones – in the basement. And, the first selfie spot for Upper fixator fans is a large mirror that, according to tour guides, Joanna used to touch up her makeup while filming the show.

Tickets for the castle tour, $50, are available from the website, with 20% of profits going to the non-profit organization The Cove. (Note that the house does not have an elevator and requires guests’ ability to access three flights of stairs.)

Tips for a Magnolia Pilgrimage to Waco:
Shop: No castle getaway would be complete without a stop at the Magnolia Silo Complex. A new 8:15 a.m. tour, offered Monday through Saturday, takes visitors behind the scenes and onto the rooftop before the crowds (and the heat) arrive. Hint: August is a “slower” month at the silos, and Tuesday through Thursday is less crowded. Round tickets cost $25 and come with a free coffee from Magnolia Press.

To eat: Chip and Joanna Magnolia Painting the cafe stays busy all day, every day. If you don’t have time to wait for a table, visit the take-out market next door. Grab takeaways like pimiento cheese and crackers, butter vol, banana pudding, and chicken salad sandwiches, and enjoy them on a table outside (if it’s not too hot).

Stay: Availability at all four Magnolia vacation rentals can be hard to come by, but watch the website for nights to 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 CottageThe Gaines’ newest and smallest accommodation, which opened in fall 2021. An upcoming Magnolia boutique hotel, in the historic Grand Karem Sanctuary building downtown, is slated to open in 2024.

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Chip and Joanna Gaines (pictured in the dining room) took around a year to renovate the chateau, which will go on sale in the fall.

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