“Fixer Upper” infatuation led Ben and Liz Allen, of Huntington, West Virginia, and John and Shawna Allevato, of Arlington, Virginia, to Central Texas on Monday as the first overnight guests at Magnolia House in downtown McGregor.
“When we first walked in it was like stepping into a magazine,” Ben Allen said.
Shawna Allevato agreed.
“I haven’t even laid down on the bed, because I don’t want to mess anything up,” she said.
Chip and Joanna Gaines featured the late 19th-century home on an episode of “Fixer Upper” in December, and Liz Allen ended up booking the first night after reservations opened in early February.
“When reservations first became available, the only reservations were available for a two-night stay,” Liz Allen said. “It filled up so quickly that I didn’t get one, but there were all these single nights that didn’t get booked and nobody booked it on the first Monday night.”
After single-night reservations became available, she attempted to book a reservation for Thursday. In the rush to secure a reservation, Thursday was quickly booked, leaving only one night available — Monday.
“After that, she realized that she got it for the first night it’s officially open to the public,” Ben Allen said. “It wasn’t intentional, but this was the week we were looking to travel, so it was like winning the golden ticket.”
Inside the renovated Victorian home, the houseguests giggled as dozens of people walked up to the front gates, peering around the home. They said they were surprised by the amount of attention the vacation-stay home attracts but still felt the welcoming nature of small-town Texas.
“There have been so many people who are standing outside taking pictures, and there have even been some people who have come up on the front porch for pictures,” Liz Allen said.
The couples were unexpectedly given an exclusive tour of the Magnolia Market in downtown Waco and were able to visit with the Gaineses, who were at the downtown Waco silos Monday filming. The celebrity couple took a break and spoke with their new houseguests to share stories with the out-of-towners about their journey.
“They are so natural, genuine, and the way they act on the show is exactly the way they act in real life,” Shawna Allevato said. “It was cool just to sit and talk with them for about 15 minutes in their bakery.”
Back at the McGregor home, the soon-to-be released furniture line called Magnolia Home, designed by Joanna Gaines, decorated the space. Despite the rustic farmhouse aesthetic, touches like cellphone chargers, fresh fruit, pastries and a house staff available in the backyard guesthouse made it feel like home, the guests said.
“I think we would all say this felt like another version of home,” Liz Allen said Tuesday morning. “It’s a beautiful place, but the hospitality rivals the beauty. It was an all-around great experience.”
Magnolia spokesman Brock Murphy said reservations for 2016 are completely booked.