As co-founder of Magnolia, the globally popular home and lifestyle brand based in Texas, and a New York Times bestselling author, Joanna Gaines knows good design. In this extract from her new book Homebody, she explains that when it comes to creating a home, the rules are made to be broken
MODERN AND MOROCCAN INFLUENCES CONVERGE IN THIS ECLECTIC FARMHOUSE LIVING ROOM, DESIGNED BY JOANNA GAINES. IMAGE: CODY ULRICH
I am a homebody. There’s really no other way to say it. The world can feel overwhelming with its pace and noise, its chaos and expectations. Home for me is like the eye of a hurricane. There’s a certain calm I experience there no matter what is swirling about on the outside. Home is where I feel safe, it’s the place where I am most known and most loved.
If you were to ask my family, I’m pretty sure they would tell you the same thing about themselves: there is nowhere they would rather be than home. I think it’s because our story is all around us here. When you walk in, you begin to see and experience the journey of us.
Our home is layered with family photos, artwork, and objects that weren’t chosen simply to make a design statement, but rather to tell the story of who lives there. I believe that what we surround ourselves with – the colours, the materials, the things – can be random and meaningless or they can convey some of the most important truths if we let them.
THIS ENTRANCE HALL PROVIDES A WARM WELCOME TO JOANNA GAINES’ FARMHOUSE IN WACO, TEXAS, WHICH SHE SHARES WITH HER HUSBAND AND BUSINESS PARTNER, CHIP, AND THEIR FIVE CHILDREN. IMAGE: CODY ULRICH
I’ve come to realise that it’s not uncommon for people to feel immobilised when they try to make their home a place that feels significant and unique to them. We can get so bogged down with design rules and comparisons that we forget to focus on the simplicity of choosing things that we love for our homes. It’s not about sticking to a specific, prescribed style. It’s about a story.
And the moment you make that subtle mind-set shift, all of a sudden you’re set into motion. It becomes fun, freeing even. Rather than following arbitrary guidelines, try to focus on incorporating the things that matter to you and the people who share your home.
Sure, some people have a knack for decorating and design, but here’s the thing: it’s not rocket science. Just like in all of life, you try and fail and then try again, and eventually you figure out what works for you. So allow yourself the freedom to mess up, whatever that means, or simply change your mind. Go ahead and paint the room a colour other than beige.
JOANNA’S FARMHOUSE DINING ROOM WAS DESIGNED FOR LINGERING OVER FOOD AND CONVERSATION WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS. IMAGE: CODY ULRICH
Even if you decide you were too bold and you don’t actually love how it looks, you can repaint it later. It is not the end of the world. You tried, you risked, you learned – and hopefully you had fun with it. Buy the rug you’ve been eyeing and see how it fits. It is doesn’t work, return it. Rearrange your furniture. Twice. Or three times. Don’t worry about it being perfect the first time.
In fact, never stop rearranging. It helps to keep your home alive and evolving. Let’s not take ourselves so seriously. There’s enough truly hard stuff in life, and creating your home should not be one of them. I believe that intentionality with a dose of creativity goes much further than money and flawless taste when it comes to making a house a home.
My hope is that wherever you are, you find a way to love the home you’re in. Create a space where everyone who lives there feels at home. I hope you feel encouraged and emboldened to thoughtfully design a home that tells a story without regard for perfection. It’s a story worth telling because it’s yours. That is how you create spaces you’ll never want to leave.