Before & After: ‘Fixer Upper’ Totally Transformed a Rundown Houseboat

updated Jul 29, 2019
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Chip and Joanna Gaines have spent four seasons helping Waco residents realize their shiplap-filled dreams, and you’d think by now they’d seen it all. On last week’s episode, though, they took on a whole new challenge—a houseboat. Even if you’re not a devoted Fixer Upper fan, trust us—you’ll want to see this transformation.

The design duo started with a landlocked 1970s double-decker houseboat with a pontoon bottom. After the $27,000 asking price, they were left with a renovation budget of $58,000, and a question as to whether the vessel would float on Lake Waco, its intended new home.

Spoiler: the 43-foot long structure does float, and its transformation from “big and pretty ugly” (owner Brett’s words) to stunning and modern is seriously impressive.

The space was almost entirely reconfigured, with the stairs relocated to the back of the boat, the lower floor’s ceiling raised by a foot, and walls of windows added to both floors. The home feels open and inviting, with plenty of light and opportunities to take in the lake vistas.

Both the kitchen and bathroom also received gut jobs; with modern black cabinetry and open shelving along sunny windows, the kitchen affords quite the view while cooking. The bathroom—like every other room—was formerly wood paneled, and received a new look with black subway tile, partial glass shower enclosure, and a concrete vanity top for some industrial flair.

What’s a Fixer Upper project without shiplap? However, Joanna is mixing it up: the houseboat’s master bedroom received the skinnylap treatment—an accent wall made up of a thinner planked panel.

The other bedroom was converted to a bunk room, with built-in sleeping arrangements for Brett’s four kids.

The modern black exterior isn’t painted; instead, Chip and Joanna went with a Japanese technique called shou sugi ban, a process that involves charring wood so that it forms a natural protective layer against wind, sun, and water. Pretty cool (or, actually, hot)!

Check out more photos of the project over on HGTV.