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  • Writer's pictureDarci Lou

18 important Design lessons from Joanna Gaines

Updated: Mar 6, 2020

Since Fixer Upper began, we have been blessed with many lessons from Joanna Gaines. Some have been life lessons, some about relationships, but most importantly today, many of them were design lessons!

Joanna’s design style and process is a great one to learn from. Over the years I have watched and rewatched the show, studied her designs and read her advice on home décor. Here is my list of 18 important design lessons I took away from Joanna Gaines over the years!

Disclosure: I have placed some affiliate links below that I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Keep in mind, however, these are all my personal recommendations that I stand by. I would not bring them to you if I did not believe in each item. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other, affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for us to earn advertising fees by linking to

1. Open Spaces

There are some ideas going around that we should put all the walls back up. I, however, am still team open concept. The homes featured on Fixer Upper have a flow throughout the home which can only be created with an open concept plan. Having open spaces allows for easier interaction with others in the home, helps the spaces seem bigger, allows for more flexibility with furniture and helps soak the home in natural light.

2. Natural lighting

Joanna does not mess around with natural lighting. Maximizing the amount of natural light is key in a lot of her designs and you should make sure you are doing this in your house as well. This does not mean you need to knock down walls but make sure that your window treatments are installed correctly. If you place them well, when they are open, no natural light will be blocked from the room.

3. Mixing textures

It is okay and welcomed to mix textures together. The more textures a room has, the more warm and cozy it can feel. Having everything be similar in texture can leave a room feeling cold and unwelcoming. This can be accomplished through adding interesting textiles in your home such as leather couches, knit pillows, iron accents and shiplap walls. Sound familiar?

Here are some of my Amazon favorites for introducing texture! (click the images to shop)

4. Mixing patterns

You can also enhance the feel of a room by mixing patterns. This can be a great way to had energy and playful attitude to a room. You can do this by adding a rug to a room, going bold with tiles (floor or backsplash) or through art pieces.

(click the images to shop)

5. Go antique

Having vintage pieces in a home is a staple for Fixer Upper staging. Adding in a antique piece can give a home a lot of character and is a great way to check off the last two lessons mentioned. Find out the story behind the antiques and turn them into a quick DIY or let them shine just how they are.

6. Give a room a focal point

If a room has too many attention grabbing parts, it will lack harmony. Having one focal point in a room will help pull the room together and create a balance. This will make the room flow more easily and be more natural! Joanna Gaines often does this with statement walls, fireplaces or furniture. Notice, these are all big pieces of a room.

7. Don’t put your bed side against the wall

When you put a bed against the wall, you are closing off one side. This is not good for relationships since it can feel you are closed off if your side is against a wall since you will not have room for your things right next to you. Creating a space that has both sides open will create a more natural, open feeling.

8. Nature belongs inside too

Nature is a large part of every Fixer Upper styling. The great part is, if you really enjoy the nature look but do not have a green thumb, you can liven up your home with faux plants. I personally recommend (just like Jo) adding some greenery in every room. It will give a nice pop of color and life. If you have any pets, make sure that you don't place any plants low to the ground or include plants that may be toxic to animals.

9. Go bold with flooring

One of my favorite lessons from Joanna is to not be afraid to go bold with flooring. Whether it be your kitchen or your bathroom, choose something really bold! This gives you a chance to really put your personality into the home. You do not have to go overboard, but don't shy away from something you really like to play it on the safe side.

10. Mantel tricks

Something that can take your home to the next level is decorating your mantel the right way. I have written a blog post on this for you where I mention creating contrast, asymmetry, overlapping, and including mirrors and plants! This is really a trial and error process, but once you understand the steps you will be well on your way!

11. Mix old with the new

Creating spaces that are fresh but still have character are a staple for the Fixer Upper style. Head to your local antique shop or flea market and see what great finds you stumble upon. This lesson is really about striking a balance between old and new. You can decide in your own home what that balance should be for your style!

12. When in doubt, shiplap

I LOVE shiplap. It always looks nice and creates a statement in your home. This lesson is pretty straight forward since I think the Gaines have made it pretty clear, shiplap is here to stay.

13. Be bold and use lots of natural wood

One main theme that you see in a lot of homes by Jo is her use of natural wood. Often times there is just a light stain that enhances the natural color. This is a great way to bring the outdoors into your home and it will look great with almost any style or color scheme you choose.

14. Make your space inspiring

The biggest lesson I took to heart from watching the show was to make your home inspiring. Your home is where you probably spend most of your time, or at least a very good chunk of it. The spaces you create should feel welcoming, relaxing and inspiring. Whatever that means to you, make it happen.

15. Don’t be afraid to mix styles

When you are choosing a style for your home, do not feel pigeon-holed in to just one. Choose a main style for your base, but then weave in one or two other styles which you also like. Having a solid base with accents from the other styles will give your home a great energy without feeling like the pieces are competing.

16. Iron/shiplap/ and natural wood go very well together

This is my favorite combination of colors/materials. White shiplap with black iron accents and natural wood elements makes a room perfecto! This is a common style that Jo tackles and is even featured in her home.

17. Plan

What you do not see on the show but still need to know is that a lot of planning goes into these homes. If you have read some of the books they published, you may have started to get a sense for this. Don't think that your home will come together in 30 minutes like a home does on the TV. Take your time to plan out what you want the finished product to look like, write notes down, head to Pinterest, and shop around for materials.

18. Try, try and try again.

When you are designing, sometimes things just don't work out. What looks so great in your head doesn't always turn out exactly like you thought it would. Yes, this even happens to Joanna Gaines. If you are working on styling your mantel, try a few different arrangements, walk away and come back or even swap some items out. That candle you thought was necessary might not actually work out in the end. So try, try, try again and don't get discouraged!

Now that you have all 18 lessons from Jo, get started on your next project! Remember, if you are in the mood for some Joanna Gaines inspo check out my 6 Trick to Decorate a Mantel like Jo or my Favorite Fixer Upper lighting. Or head to the Home blog to find out some more great ideas for your home!

Have any requests for blog topics? Contact me and let me know! I would be happy to give you more advice created just for you!

Have a wonderful day!


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Hey there! My name is Darci and  I created this blog with the hopes of inspiring others.


I am a photographer, designer, baker and avid traveler. You can find all my adventures, my random thoughts on life, and everything in between here! I hope you enjoy this blog as much as I love making it. Have a lovely day!

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This site may contain links to affiliate websites, and I receive an affiliate commission for any purchases made by you on the affiliate website with no extra cost to you for using such links. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other, affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for us to earn advertising fees by linking to and other affiliate companies.

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