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 this past April, 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 book. 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 said aspirational spaces feel attainable. There are in-depth features of 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,” Gaines tells Domino.“Obviously, none of the rooms in this book 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 home 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 from it—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find a summary of the key functions and elements of each room, as well as solutions to the most common pain points (outdated lighting, bare windows, and insufficient storage are a few problem areas the designer explores).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 low-down on her long-awaited book, plus the biggest design tips and takeaways she’s learned along the way.
I love that you decided to include your own home in the book. In writing this, were there certain memories, challenges, or mistakes you recalled from creating your own space that came back to mind?
We’ve lived in multiple homes before the farmhouse, and I think 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. It was like, “I have to figure out how this can work for us within the box I’ve been given and the budget.” That’s where I have the most fun, because 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. During the whole renovation I was like, “Yes, it would be nice to have a bigger living room. 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?”
If you had to identify one major decorating mistake that you see over and over again (that’s probably an easy fix) what would it be?
For me, it’s clutter. Sometimes people can’t see what it is that they need the space to be because there’s just so much stuff. Or, people feel like they’ve moved in and they have to hurry up and fill the space, and it feels like it was thrown together. There’s that layer missing of the real life—that authentic story of who they are. There’s a lot of stuff, but it doesn’t feel meaningful. It’s just there to fill space. 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…’ Fill your home with meaningful pieces. It doesn’t have to be across the board (because that can be really hard) but don’t just fill a space to fill it. Be intentional about it.
What would you say is the most affordable change or upgrade someone can make to instantly elevate their space?
I always think there are certain things that you can bring into a space that make it feel a little more fresh and a little more updated. It can be as simple as a pillow and a throw or a rug. 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 a little bit more warm. The smaller decorative things can actually make a big impact.
For each of the houses you chose to include in the book, I noticed that you created a style formula. When it comes to balance and blending two or more aesthetics in one home, are there any rules?
I was trying to play it to where people can understand, this is what traditional feels like, or this is what modern feels like. Early on, when I started, I always thought we all have one or two styles. As all of us are continually evolving, there’s new things that we’re loving; there’s new things that we are telling our own story about. [It’s] that mix of all 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. It makes it feel more like you if it has three or four different styles. It’s fun to get inspired when you’re looking online or looking 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.
I know that there’s this underlying theme of telling a story within your home. For someone who is struggling with where to start, where’s the first place you look for inspiration?
First, it’s always at home—which is the kids and Chip. 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.
I have a lot of amazing clients that I get to work with, and when I’m working with a modern client it’s fun to get to be a student of theirs and figure out what it is that they love.
For me, personally, 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 August 3, 2017. It has been updated with new information.
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