Courtney Warren is a Texas-based interior designer whose work has been featured in Real Simple, Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, Apartment Therapy, and Today.com. She is a frequent consultant on Fox 4 TV’s Good Day program in Dallas, was ranked in the top 3 percent of interior designers in the US by Houzz.com, and starred in the Dallas episode of TLC’sFour Houses. She delights in helping overwhelmed clients create beautiful spaces—and will never turn down a warm chocolate chip cookie or Diet Dr Pepper.
When I ask my design clients whose design they most admire, I get a single answer time after time. Who knew Waco- a town previously known for Branch Dividians–would deliver this decade’s answer to Martha Stewart’s cool little sister, Joanna Gaines.
People love her for good reason. From her hit HGTV show she shares with her hilarious goofball husband, Chip, to a new 4,000 square ft. storefront in Waco, to a new furniture line, bakery, book, bed and breakfast and paint collection, it seems that there is nothing this pretty lady can’t do. All while being so darn likable and wearing cool boots.
While true Gaines fans are ready to pack up an RV to relocate to Waco to qualify for a renovation, it doesn’t take a hop along I-35 to capture the magic. Follow these easy tips to create your very own Fixer Upper, Ellis County style.
Here is a page out of the Fixer Upper Rule book, which includes:
It seems like there is nothing Jo-Jo touches that does not include shiplap. There is even a trending hashtag on twitter #shiplap. No, shiplap is not some fancy new wall texture – it is actually quite old! Before drywall was invented, houses were built with boards side by side to create walls, then covered with wallpaper. That is the reason that many of the historic houses the Gaines renovate have shiplap behind the walls.
Do you live in a historic house? There is an excellent chance you have shiplap behind your walls! Also, if you dig back far enough behind your old walls, you might also find Chip Gaines wearing a goofy costume, juggling oranges, and trying to make you laugh. He waits in all the houses with shiplap. I have heard it’s a ‘thing’.
Action step: If you live in new construction, don’t despair! Recreate the look! Shiplap can be created by stacking boards horizontally and painting them or staining them. Pinterest is a great resource for DIY tutorials if you are handy with a hammer!
2. Less is more.
You won’t find Joanna decorating with sentimental items that she doesn’t like “because they were a gift” or have been in the family. For instance, the ceramic bird that your mom guilted you into taking because it was her mom’s…Oh wait, is it just me that has a bird above my microwave? (Sorry, Grandma). Joanna keeps it simple with clean spaces and empty spots. As Oprah’s favorite designer Nate Burkus advises, “Edit, edit, edit. I jam-pack my rooms with all kinds of found objects and accessories-but then I step back and put a few items away. Paring down is what makes a good room great.”
Action step: Clear the clutter and remove 3 things from your home that you don’t love. If it does not bring you joy when you look at it, take it away!
3. Neutral Paint
Joanna keeps it soothing by painting calming neutrals on the walls and bringing color into the room through accessories. You won’t usually find a bright paint color in her renovations. Now she even has a Paint line called Magnolia Paint, so you know that Paint is Jojo approved!
Action step: Are you painting a room and love color? Consider using a neutral and bringing color in the room through small, easily changeable items. When you change your mind, it’s easier to replace a throw pillow than repaint a whole room.
4. Focus on the Kitchen
In Fixer Upper on HGTV, there is great time and attention spent on the kitchen. Joanna always wants to “open it up” and include a large island. The kitchen is the heart of the home, and even if you cannot make changes everywhere, updates in the kitchen give you great bang for your buck!
Action step: When doing renovations or decorating, remember to include extra focus on one of the rooms you use the most- the kitchen! Changes in here will go a long way to update the house and give it a fresh, new feeling.
5. Go Green
Joanna brings natural elements from the outdoors. Realistic faux arrangements, cotton wreaths, magnolia wreaths and fresh flowers provide color and clean air. Line a vintage tulip crate with some faux flower arrangements and you have got a perfect centerpiece.
Action step: When in doubt what decoration to add, go green! A small faux plant will always be a great choice. However, having no plant is better than a dusty crusty plant, so take a minute to make sure your plants look as nice as the day you got them!
6. Make it Personal
In a Fixer Upper reveal, a once-blank wall is updated with personal details. Joanna loves quotes, sentences and initials-décor that has meaning as well as cuteness! Sweet bible verses, like “As for me and my house’ or 1 Cor 13 signs. Consider using your last initial or a quote that means a lot to you in a place you can see it often. I have a beautiful hand painted a sign in my bedroom that says “We can do hard things”. I got this with my kids in mind, but I love the reminder and optimism. On hard days, my “we can do hard things” sign reminder has gotten my feet out of bed and on the floor. Yes, because “hard things” includes waking up. The struggle is real.
Action step: Be careful to not overdo this step. If you have a quote in your home, limit it to one or two. Some houses turn into billboards with “faith-hope-love-live-laugh-love” and when too many are throughout the home, it can lose its impact. For instance, if “Life Is Not Measured By the Number of Breaths We Take, But By the Moments That Take Our Breath Away,” but also “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years,” then I feel pretty confused. All I wanted to do was visit my friend’s house, and now I have to figure out how long my life lasts while I walk down her hallway.
7. Open Shelving
This tip is not for the lovers of organized chaos, and when done correctly, industrial open shelving with brackets makes a great impact. This is a fantastic way to open a room, make it seem bigger, and put lovely items on display. Even the metal shelving brackets look like decoration! If you are afraid you are too messy to put your contents in full display, start with something like dishware. Because it stacks easily, it is simple to keep it looking clean.
Action item: Open up a bathroom by storing towels on an open shelf, or in the kitchen, display your dishes. Limit the items on the shelf to keep the section clean and clutter free. Paint the shelving brackets black or leave them galvanized for a fresh look.
How do you feel now, Graduate of Fixer Upper 101? You know what shiplap is, and you are armed with Joanna’s Gaines Interior design rulebook. Take a couple of these items to turn your home into your very own Joanna Gaines-inspired Fixer Upper. The cute boots are optional.