Top 5 Fixer Upper Design Elements

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year or two, you’ve likely heard of HGTV’s Fixer Upper show and its superstars, Chip and Joanna Gaines.

Personally I’ve never watched the show – GASP! – because we don’t have cable (there’s more than enough to watch on Netflix). But I’ve certainly heard of and read articles about them, their fixer upper style and their faith.

I like to think of Dean and I as kindred spirits with Chip and Joanna. We share a faith and a business plan that is very similar to theirs. Although they’re much further along in the business department than we are. Oh and they’re on TV.

Which we are not.


In one very brief Q&A that I read recently, Joanna shared her top 5 Design Elements of Fixer Upper Style. I thought it would be fun to expand on that a little and add some resources so you can get the look in your own house as well!

Top 5 Design Elements of Fixer Upper Style and How to Get the Look in Your Own House

1. Apron Front Sink

Fixer Upper Style - apron front sink

Apron front sinks. The things of farmhouse kitchen dreams.

White ones, steel ones. They’re all beautiful and seem to be the epitome of fixer-upper kitchen style.

If you aren’t doing an entire kitchen makeover, you can still add an apron front sink. Just buy one of the slide in types that has a lip that covers the edge of you countertops. Then all you have to do is cut the countertops and modify the lower cabinet a little. Which is easier than a whole new countertop!

You can find apron front sinks at the following places:

2. Shiplap

 Fixer Upper Style - shiplap

Shiplap is the most popular wall treatment right now.

Okay, maybe it’s not. But it sure seems like it.

There are many DIY Shiplap tutorials including these ones by Table and Hearth, Bless’er House and Remodelaholic.

3. Natural Light

Spring Home Made Lovely Dining room

Having a home filled with natural light is something everyone longs for. If your house doesn’t have a lot of it and you’re not willing to do a major reno to get it, I’ve still got a few ideas for you.

Our house is about 40 years old. When we moved in all the windows had dark wood trim. Not the nice wood trim you find in even older homes, mind you. Rather the thin ugly medium dark-toned trim that was the norm in the sixties and seventies.

So I painted it. I went around the house painting all that ugly dark trim a nice crisp white. And any dark wood blinds that were here were also switched out for white ones.

I can’t tell you how much of a difference that made in the brightness of each space.

The change was amazing.

4. Neutral Color with Lots of Texture

Home Made Lovely Dining Room in the Spring 2016

This is something we do well at our house.

Because I’m home all day, working and homeschooling the kids, I find neutral colors to be very relaxing versus large amounts of color.

But to make up for any lack of visual interest I tend to use lots of different textures – jute rugs, wool and faux fur blankets, linen and canvas throw pillow covers, wood flooring, rattan and metal chairs, etc.

To get this look in your own house simply start with a neutral base with the biggest pieces – the couch, rugs and tables. Then build on it with textured pillows, curtains and throws in various fabrics and shades of white, cream and taupe.

5. Wood Floors

Neutral living room cream couch board and batten

This is one of those “if your house has them (or you’re willing to add them)” big bang for your buck fixer upper design elements.

Your floors are one of the biggest visual spaces in your house. And wood floors are absolutely a necessity in modern farmhouse, fixer upper style.

Don’t worry you can totally cheat like we did and install laminate too!

So that’s it. Joanna’s Top 5 Design Elements of Fixer Upper Style and How to Get the Look in Your Own House.

Do you have any of these five elements? Is your house a fixer upper in progress still?

shannon sign off

home made lovely book on table with get it now text button

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  1. I want to let you know that I follow a lot of bloggers & love decorating & redesigning my small fixer upper. I love your style & it’s a lot like mine. Your my favorite blogger. I too only have Netflix but fixer upper is on Netflix but only season one. I do love her style.

    1. Thank you! You had me all excited to watch even season one…and then I remembered Netflix U.S. is very different than Netflix Canada. It seems I’ll be waiting awhile longer!

  2. These are awesome tips Shannon! I can’t believe your floors are laminate, they look like the real thing 😉 I also love how you add so much texture to your home, and neutral is the way to go! Love it all!!

    Thanks for sharing,

    XO Kass

    1. Thank you, Kass! We LOVE our laminate floors. I don’t worry about the dog scratching them or spills or anything! xo

  3. Love your tips and love your style! Working to get my home looking as lovely and put together as yours!! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Ooooohhhhhh!!!! You mean a course that shows you how to help people like me?? 🙂 Or is there a course that I could take?? Either would be helpful… but I’d prefer the first option! 🙂

    2. Nice!!!! I will certainly stay tuned for that – as in, “I can’t wait!!” – no pressure though…. well, maybe just a little! 😉

    1. Our style is very similar to fixer upper style – even before that was a thing! Lol. 🙂

  4. Awesome round-up, Shannon! I love your style, and it does remind me a lot of Joanna’s aesthetic. I’m a teensy bit envious of the wood floors and apron sink. One day it’ll happen for me maybe. Thanks so much for linking to my shiplap wall tutorial! It’s an addictive DIY for sure. Must. shiplap. all. the. walls. 😉

  5. Any tips for painting trim? I feel your pain on the 70s mid-toned brown wood trim. EEK! Luckily it’s not everywhere but still enough to be getting on with!!

    1. I use quality paint and a good brush. I also paint opposite the grain first to fill it in. It looks so much better!

  6. I, too, love the show and most of what they do. Imagine, my husband found himself in Waco, Texas two weeks ago with work and did NOT go to the silos! And he likes the show too.

  7. I like the way you are using pastel colors when arranging. I would call your stile Mocha stile. Everything is coffee and milk color. For sure you are coffee lover.
    Great style

  8. ok…I am ready….
    What laminate floors …company and colors…will make my home look like a fixer upper Joanna Gaines.
    I plan to paint all woodwork white etc. Thanks Mary Ann

  9. Hi so clearly I love fixer upper, and also love your style as well! We are closing on a home in a couple of weeks and we are redoing all of our flooring. Yes all of it! The floors are gross. Can you talk to me about Laminate flooring in a kitchen? I’m wanting a consistent flow throughout the entire 2 story home except in bathroom and the laundry room, but I can’t help but want Laminate wood flooring in the kitchen. The kitchen is in the center of the living and dining area and I don’t want to break it up with tile in the kitchen, but everyone I talk to says no to Laminate in the kitchen. I also know there is the wood like tile which I do like, but I also feel like it will be much colder then Laminate. Can you give me some insight?

    1. Honestly we lived with laminate in the kitchen for a couple of years before we sold the house and moved and I loved it. (I absolutely hands down prefer laminate to hardwood. It’s just more durable I find.) The only thing about laminate in a kitchen is if you have a MAJOR water spill, the laminate will get damaged. The only time we had that issue was when the mini fridge was acting up and froze inside and then water leaked all over for hours without our knowing. The laminate got a bit damaged under the fridge. Otherwise, I’d say go for it! Maybe just keep some extra pieces around in case of damage like that?

  10. I never thought about adding a farmhouse sink in my current kitchen! I just assumed it had to be done in a whole countertop redo. Glad you mentioned it!
    And yes, my house is definitely a fixer upper in progress. I’m currently re-doing my two younger boys (who have moved out after all these years of homeschooling) bedroom, turning it into a pretty guest room/workspace for myself. I just redid an old computer desk by painting the legs and refinishing/staining the top. Laminate wood going in next. I used SW agreeable gray paint, white trim. It’s so much fun! 🙂

    1. If you use the Ikea ‘farmhouse’ sink it has a lip so it would cover countertop edges that may need to be cut out. You can also retrofit a cabinet to work with a farmhouse sink. Just be sure to reenforce it enough!