Fixer To Fabulous: 10 Facts About The HGTV Show That Need No Renovating

HGTV's biggest stars tend to fit their popular images as well-rounded, authentic, often funny, and genuinely nice people. In this mold, like the Gaineses and Napiers before them, Dave and Jenny Marrs seem to be as comfortable and competent as possible no matter what angle you look at them from. And there are lots of angles available. Jenny Marrs has been avidly blogging at Blessings & Raindrops for 11 years, penning hundreds of posts with brutal honesty and self-awareness. In interviews, the couple is always forthright about their shortcomings and their struggles, and they never seem to take credit for their successes. And the remarkable thing is that after HGTV came calling — twice — in 2016, Team Marrs simply didn't change much. They became busier, but not too busy for new charity efforts, new ventures, and a new set of critters on their farm.

Their philanthropic efforts and involvement in adoption advocacy were in full swing before they joined HGTV, and continue with the same energy. In fact, they're so resolutely unchanged by the fame that it seems you have to look at their lives through the lens of "Fixer to Fabulous" for any new views at all. To that end, here are ten facts about the couple and the show that made them a household name.

Their teamwork goes well beyond Fixer to Fabulous

It takes a well-tuned team to manage the things Jenny and Dave handled before HGTV. They had started a ministry called Feed Their Tummies to help feed orphans in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They also organized a series of local benefit concerts called the Bentonville Sessions (now City Sessions) to raise money for those causes. When they started working with their partner charity, Help One Now, they traveled to places like Haiti, South Africa, and Zimbabwe in support of those efforts. 

The week they announced the pilot of "Fixer to Fabulous," they hosted two fundraising events at The Berry Farm. They raised money to fund the work of The Gatehouse Project. This non-profit venture supports agricultural development and training in business, technology, and skills in working with wood, metal, and fabric to children aging out of the orphan care system in Zimbabwe. 

They almost turned down HGTV

When HGTV first approached the couple in April 2016 about doing a show for the network, Dave and Jenny initially declined. They had four kids, lots of balls already in the air, and they were concerned about HGTV's intentions... possibly an unflattering portrayal of their small town.

The second time HGTV approached them, they took the meeting. Part of the producer's pitch was that the exposure would be good for Jenny and Dave's charity efforts. It would, she said, direct attention to organizations that the Marrses partnered with, like Help One Now. The couple ultimately agreed to start filming "Fixer to Fabulous" because they saw the value in promoting their own causes. They were also eager to show the world a happy family with biological and adopted children.

"This all kind of started actually because someone at HGTV got wind of our really unique community here that we live in and said this would be a great place to film a show," Jenny said on their YouTube channel. "And they put feelers out and got our names and approached us. This wasn't something that we went and looked for."

They don't see the shows until you do

The couple is intimately involved in most aspects of their shows' creation, of course, but they don't see the finished episodes until their air dates come around. Jenny strongly implies that this isn't a choice, but a part of the HGTV process. "We watch the episodes live with you all (we don't get to see them before they air)," she wrote in a 2021 Instagram post, "and it's kind of like walking down memory lane as we watch." This experience started with the pilot episode; Jenny said she was a nervous wreck anticipating that viewing experience and the responses the couple couldn't control.

Naturally, this means the Marrses aren't in the trenches when "Fixer to Fabulous" is edited, either. Speaking with About You, Dave describes being pleased to find out that HGTV left a mistake he made in the show. "We have no say in how they edit it... I'll be the first one to tell you, I make a lot of mistakes...I couldn't believe I did that, I still can't believe I did that! That's funny that HGTV put that in. We've gotten more comments on stuff we've messed up on than the stuff that was perfect. I think people really appreciate that it's just like real life."

And it's not just the mistakes that make the show a fun walk down memory lane; sometimes it's the couple's built-in silliness. Jenny says in a Facebook post, "Dave and I laughed pretty much nonstop watching last night's episode of "Fixer to Fabulous: Welcome Inn." We'd forgotten about all the ridiculous things we said and did over the course of filming this show."

Dave wanted to be a farmer, not a TV star

Dave Marrs' passion is clearly building, and it's a passion he's been fostering for a long time. While in high school and college, Dave did electrical work and construction for his father, who was a builder in Colorado. However, there was also another goal in his heart. "Dave wanted to become a farmer," Jenny tells AY Magazine of the couple's for-charity agricultural business, "and this was his idea of a farm." 

Now the couple owns a fully functional farm, complete with a pick-your-own concept that raises money for Help One Now. The sprawling property is home to 2,000 blueberry and blackberry plants, ready for visitors of all ages to harvest their own crops. The Berry Farm also features a unique event venue and hosts a yearly festival to support local businesses.

In addition to The Berry Farm, the couple's family home fully embraces the farm-like vibe. Inside, it's a family-friendly farmhouse that is bright, welcoming, and fully functional. Outside, the property has evolved, Jenny says, from consistently making little choices that add up to farm life. "I couldn't be more grateful for the fact that we kept saying yes to the crazy and now have a pasture full of animals," she wrote, "and we get the privilege of marveling as we watch brand-new mommas coax along their shaky-legged newborns to their feet." The pair are even beekeepers, harvesting their very own honey. 

They are pros at juggling remodeling projects

Despite all the crazy and the usual personal and professional schedules, Team Marrs and their production company manage multiple home renovations at any given time. Practically speaking, it's the only way to accomplish everything they want to do. Three homes are scheduled at a time over the course of five-week periods. And don't forget that Marrs Developing builds about 30 homes a year. The team also painstakingly renovates and restores properties into their clients' dream homes. 

Keeping all these balls in the air at once has been made even more difficult by the pandemic and supply chain issues. Planning and materials ordering went from a 2 to 3-week project to a 12 to 16-week timeframe with a lot more focus and attention required along the way. The couple has been pre-ordering and warehousing materials and appliances — a skillset well outside the experience of most builders. The additional work, more complicated schedule, and multiple projects can pile up in a hurry, especially when you factor in personal lives and other commitments. But Team Marrs seems to handle it all with collaborative teamwork.

They do lots of other things, as well

The couple manages to do a lot, and most of it informs their work on the show in one way or another. At any given time they could be juggling a few other shows as well, such as "Home Town Takeover," "Rock the Block," appearances on shows like "Farmhouse Fixer," and special episodes of "Fixer to Fabulous," on top of starring in one of the most popular shows on the network. "We never slow down," Jenny says. "We always have ten irons in the fire." 

The couple also operates an Airbnb called the Welcome Inn, which was featured on HGTV's "Fixer to Fabulous: Welcome Inn." The bed and breakfast is, in part, a philanthropic effort to assist Saving Grace NWA, an organization that helps local young women who are aging out of the foster care system, which often involves suddenly facing homelessness. You can book the bed and breakfast, which accommodates up to eight people in three bedrooms on Airbnb.

It doesn't stop there. The couple remodeled the old Centerton Bank for a retail storefront called Marrs Mercantile, and they're overseeing a home line of almost 60 products, created in partnership with Better Homes & Gardens and available at Walmart. Oh, and Jenny even has a book, House + Love = Home, featuring inspiring photography and her design tips, with a release date of November 2023.

Their appreciation for heritage houses starts at home

You will have noticed by now that the Marrs love historic homes and their show and businesses both focus on renovating older properties, and this is no accident. Consider their own home, a 1906 farmhouse that they've made into an oasis for their family. Dave explained this to House Digest in a December 2022 interview. "[P]retty much all older homes have good bones," Dave Marrs said. "They were built, a lot of them, with hardwood like oak, so they stand the test of time even more so than homes that are built today."

The rescue of the farmhouse has obviously been a labor of love for the couple. "We love this quirky, old home with all of its odd angles and nooks. I couldn't imagine life anywhere but right here on the farm," Jenny says. The affection has stuck. Over a decade later, she told House Digest, "I think any old house has a lot of character that's inherent to the home based on the time that it was built. We love all of the details, the millwork, the unique angles, the original floors, what's hidden behind the walls. All of that good stuff is what we love and try to preserve."

The couple sold a downtown Victorian they had never intended to move away from and moved the farmhouse to its current property in 2012. It had been slated for demolition, to be replaced by a parking lot. The pair have felt a similar call to save other historic homes from demolition. They ended up moving one property to the Berry Farm with plans to make it into overnight accommodations for the event center's attendees. Jenny explains to About You, "Houses just aren't built the same way now...You just hate to see all these old homes get torn down, especially if we can save them."

Dave mills his own lumber for projects

Team Marrs casually mentions in a few places that Dave mills his own lumber for various projects. Milling your own lumber is more work than it probably sounds like, but the Marrs Developing website points out that this DIY milling is one of many quality-control strategies the company uses. The practice is mentioned in the couple's very first "Fixer to Fabulous" reveal, where it was used to cover the newly open ceilings in dining and living spaces.

The wood used in that first episode was milled from trees downed by a 2017 tornado at their farm, and Dave milled wood from those same trees for the couple's lake cottage. The cottage is a striking little house that showcases Dave's love for the craft of building. The self-milled oak shows up in the floors, accent walls, and feature ceilings of the house, as well as gorgeous handmade furniture. 

They include an American flag on every home

Service is a theme running through the lives and work of Dave and Jenny Marrs. Some part of it came from their own family members that have served in the military. On her blog, Jenny tells the story of a small act of service, lending a hand to a mom struggling with kids and luggage in an airport. It turned out that the mother was managing so much in part because her husband was serving in the military overseas. The mom and kids were in the middle of a whirlwind visit with him and had been traveling for 24 hours. This hit Jenny hard, she says, and stories like these inform Dave and Jenny's urge to pay tribute to those who have served. 

One way they do this is by flying an American flag at every home they finish. "It's important for us to place an American flag on every house in honor of everyone who has served our country;" Jenny wrote on Instagram in 2020. It matters enough that Dave points fans to his favorite flag maker, Allegiance Flag Supply, who supplies flags for the renovated homes on "Fixer to Fabulous." Allegiance flags are made in the U.S., and the company makes a point of hiring veterans. 

Homeowners might keep the furniture Jenny picks... or might not

The couple considers most of the furnishings in their finished renovations important to the project and the homeowners. Each piece is hand-picked from the owners' furniture, local suppliers, and a staging company. HGTV renovation shows famously feature staged homes and many viewers recognize that what's revealed to them is not a final, lived-in state. Homeowners aren't obligated to keep the furniture, and sometimes they don't.

Since HGTV doesn't pay for "Fixer to Fabulous" renovations, the homeowner ultimately makes these decisions, as would be the case working with any interior decorator. The final collection is carefully curated, but 100 percent optional. The owners' furniture can be moved back in after filming wraps, or the owners can pick and choose what to keep among the furniture used to stage the home. Far from being a means of fakery, this practice is exactly what you'd want from someone you hire to beautify your environment: a lot of good suggestions, and the freedom to ignore them if they don't fit your own vision.