Fixer Upper: Flip House to Family Project

At long last, Jo's sister Mikey and brother-in-law David are moving back to Waco with their five kids. With a few design tweaks, the property Chip and Jo have just started to flip—in a great neighborhood and Waco's best school district—happens to be perfect for their extended family. This project is Fixer Upper's most personal one yet, and a true labor of love.

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January 02, 2018
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Meet the McCalls

Jo's little sister Mary Kay—"who we lovingly refer to as 'Mikey,'" Jo said—is coming back to Waco after nine long years away. She and her husband, David, need a home for their large (and growing) family, and Joanna knows her latest flip, a spacious house that can be customized to her sister's taste, fits the bill beautifully. "I knew Mikey would like it, which is the whole reason I got excited about it to begin with," she said. "It's one of those things where it's perfect timing."


Built in 1978, this 2,672 square foot, four-bedroom, three-bathroom house looks great on paper, if not quite so great in person. It's ripe for renovation: "It's in a great neighborhood, the best school district you can imagine, and I think if we took a bet on this house, I don't even think it's a gamble," Chip said. "It's a, 'where's my money?!'"


Jo took a bite out of the expansive front yard to create a private dining area behind a wall of breeze blocks with the retro feel her sister loves. Floor-to-ceiling windows let the Texas sun spill in, and painted white brick, a striking front door, new wooden siding and iron sconces give this 40-year-old home a fresh new face.

Dining Patio

Upholstered bench seating and an all-weather dining set give the McCalls' new front patio the feel of an intimate café.

Dramatic Entryway

The vibrant teal Jo chose as a pop of color for her family's new front door is a fitting introduction to the one-of-a-kind home she and Chip designed for them.

Living Room and Kitchen, Before

Prior to renovation, visitors to this home crossed the threshold and ran smack into a wall dividing the foyer from the kitchen. The space felt dim and cramped, since light couldn't pass from the back of the house to the front, and another awkward wall divided the kitchen from the living room.

Living Room and Kitchen, After

The wall between the kitchen and living room is long gone, and a new, black iron retaining wall with gridded windows now defines the space between the kitchen and the foyer in an inviting way. "That wall is like, Let's get on the other side of it!," Joanna said. New hardwood floors, a massive new kitchen island, a teal backsplash and opulent new brass pendant lights complete the kitchen's transformation.

Family Room, Before

A half-hearted garage conversion gave the home an impressively large footprint, but windowless walls, dated fixtures, and a cold, bare floor made the extra space inhospitable.

Family Room, After

Large new windows and warm wooden flooring changes this conversion's personality—it's now ready for family fun. This room can also function as a transitional space between the new carport outside and the rest of the house, thanks to new doors and ample storage.

Stylish Sliding Doors

Joanna wanted the new iron dividing wall between the kitchen and the foyer to tie in with a feature in another part of Mikey and David's new home, and she found an excellent opportunity in the new cased opening between the living room and the family room. Sliding doors provide a useful transition from one space to another: "[It's] overkill to have a large living room and another large living room," Joanna said. Bonus: The doors are soft-close and virtually silent, thanks to hidden hardware.

Storage for Everyone

Joanna designed a wall of five built-in lockers for each of the McCalls' five children, painted in their mother's favorite shade of teal and backed with quirky wallpaper. When Mikey called with the news that she would be expecting her sixth, big sister Jo happily tweaked her design as a nod to the new addition.

Boys' Bedroom, Before

A lusterless ceiling fan and drab paint are poor matches for the boisterous boys who will share this room.

Boys' Bedroom, After

Graphic paper transforms the accent wall into a mural. A new area rug and beds, in turn, lend the bedroom the coziness it so clearly lacked.

Two-Tone Tile

"That tile is so funky!" Mikey exclaimed with delight when she saw the wall behind the tub in the master bathroom. Joanna chose handmade tile and dry-stacked it—that is, applied it without grout in the spaces between each piece—for a dramatic new look with the quirky style her sister favors.

Living Room, Before

The vaulted ceiling and massive fireplace are dramatic details, but this room would be better served with larger windows and a smaller hearth.

Living Room, After

Chip narrowed the wall surrounding the fireplace and created larger windows that echo the ceiling's slope. Joanna chose the new adobe treatment to appeal to her brother-in-law, and his reaction doesn't disappoint: "I feel like I'm in New Mexico!" he said.

Efficient Utility Room

Once a cramped mechanical closet, what Jo calls the "fifties laundry room" boasts both retro-inspired hues and appliances and ample counter space for the massive loads of kid-generated washing ahead.

Master Bedroom, Before

The McCalls' master-to-be is a textbook example of how cosmetic changes can have dramatic effect: When this room's surfaces are redone (which will add relatively little to the project's budget), it will feel like a different space altogether.

Master Bedroom, After

The accent wall behind the McCalls' new midcentury-modern bed combines a vintage shade of mustard yellow and more of the teal Mikey loves. New his-and-hers sconces are more focused and stylish light sources.


If you enjoyed this Fixer Upper transformation, we think you might also like this one: "Stylish Update for a Vintage Tudor." Keep checking back here for more new galleries, video and show updates.

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