Joanna Gaines Shares the #1 Decorating Mistake People Make
And how to avoid it.
Updated Oct 11, 2018 9:27 PM
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Apparently, releasing one book a year is not enough for designer, TV star, and general person-we-want-to-be-when-we-grow-up Joanna Gaines. Following the celebrated launch of her cookbook Magnolia Table in April 2018, Gaines is back with a second title. Her much-anticipated design book, Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave, has officially hit the shelves—and you’ll want to devour this one just as fast as the first.
While there’s more than enough style envy to discover in Homebody, coffee table book collectors be warned: This is not your ordinary decorative (occasionally dust-gathering) tome. Sure, its pages are filled with pretty pictures, but the book (which more or less takes the tone of a hands-on guide) was created with the intention to make aspirational spaces feel attainable. There are in-depth features on inspirational spaces, “get the look” how-tos, and tons of advice on achieving Gaines-style decor perfection that even the most novice of decorators will find useful.
“I wanted to be really intentional about picking apart each room and the why behind it,” says Gaines.“Obviously, none of the spaces are going to look like your house, but hopefully there’s a takeaway in each of those pictures.’”
In the book’s first pages, readers will find a breakdown of six core styles—farmhouse, modern, rustic, industrial, traditional, and boho—to help them navigate their preferences. From there, Homebody explores 22 different homes, room-by-room, that represent a range of looks. One, in particular, will look especially familiar to any die-hard Fixer-Upper fans: The family’s own Waco farmhouse, where Gaines and her husband, Chip, currently live with their five kids.
“I know that, with a lot of my clients who I’ve worked with in the past, design can be somewhat intimidating, so I wanted it to feel practical and fun and that’s what I’m hoping people take away—that it’s a nudge in the right direction,” says Gaines.
In each chapter, readers will find a summary of the key functions and elements of each room, as well as solutions to the most common pain points (outdated lighting, bare windows, and insufficient storage are a few problem areas the designer explores). For those who are really committed to making a change, the back of the book includes a fold-out design guidebook for taking notes and sketching preliminary design plans.
We caught up with Gaines to get the best design tips and takeaways she’s learned along the way.
Maximize Your Creativity, Not Budget
Gaines says she and her family have lived in multiple homes before their current (famous) farmhouse, and with all that moving, it changed the way she looked at spaces. “The thing I had to shift in my brain was, instead of looking at our home as a budget or as ‘this is the space we have to work with,’ thinking of it as a creative challenge,” she says. “It was like, ‘I have to figure out how this can work for us.'”
That’s when she says she started having the most fun. “It’s one thing to have a ton of money and do whatever you want; it’s another thing to have to be working within these parameters,” she says. “During the whole renovation I was like, ‘Yes, it would be nice to have a bigger living room, and yes, it would be nice to have a larger kitchen,’ but it’s fun to just think, ‘This is what I’ve been given, so how can I maximize it?'”
Surround Yourself With Meaningful Objects
When pressed about the one major decorating mistake she sees over and over again, she doesn’t hesitate. “For me, it’s clutter,” she says. “Sometimes people can’t see what they need a space to be, because there’s just so much stuff. Or, they move in and have to hurry up and fill the home, and it feels like it was thrown together.” Gaines says when you rush to decorate your space, there’s a layer of real life missing, like that authentic story of who you are. “It doesn’t feel meaningful,” she says.
“What I’d love for this book to help others with—and even myself (I’m always challenging myself)—is to ask, ‘Is this just more stuff,’ or is this something that in ten years you’ll look back and go, ‘Oh, this is the thing that reminds me of a trip I took back when…'” Most importantly: Decorate your home with thoughtful pieces. “It doesn’t have to be across the board (because that can be really hard),” she says. “But be intentional about it.”
Small Details for Big Impact
We are all looking for those quick, affordable updates that can instantly elevate a space, and Gaines says a detail can actually transform a room. “There are certain things that you can bring into a space that make it feel a little more fresh and updated,” she explains. “It can be as simple as a pillow or a throw. In some cases, it’s a backsplash. It’s bringing in a color that you love that season or just something that’s practical, like a jute rug that grounds the space and makes it feel warmer. The smaller decorative things can actually make a big impact.”
Evolve Your Style With Your Home
Blending two or more aesthetics is a true design challenge, and Gaines has a formula to successfully accomplish this. “In the book, I was trying show people this is what traditional feels like, or this is what modern feels like,” she says. “Early on, when I started, I always thought we have one or two styles. As all of us are continually evolving, there are new things that we’re loving; there are new things that we’re telling our own story about. It’s that mix that makes it feel more like home.”
“I’m hoping the takeaway here is that there’s not really a rule as far as how much you can or can’t do,” she says. “It makes it feel more like you if your home has three or four different styles. It’s fun to get inspired when you’re looking online or in magazines, but I also think it’s important to recognize, ‘Hey, none of this should look like my home,’ because who we are, authentically, and what we love should look different from everyone else.”
Design for Function (and Baby)
If you’re struggling with where to start designing in your home, Gaines suggests pulling inspiration from real life. Her source? “The kids and Chip,” she says. “What is it that they love? What is it that would help them feel like they’re known in this space, in this home, in their room? I build from there.”
“My inspiration is, ‘What’s the season of life we’re in?’ Before the baby, it was like, ‘I have older kids now, so I can have some nicer stuff.’ There’s that blend of pretty and practical when you have kids and now I can play up the pretty a little more.”
Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You’ll Never Want to Leave is available to buy online now.
This story was originally published in August 2017, and has since been updated with new information.
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