9 Decorating Ideas to Steal from Joanna Gaines

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Courtesy of KILZ)

We’ve heard a lot of haters complain that Joanna Gaines (the decorator half of Fixer Upper, HGTV’s hit home renovation show based in Waco, Texas) makes every kitchen look the same. While she does have a very specific farmhouse style — with lots of white, shiplap, and oversized clocks — she also has plenty of range and great ideas.

Don’t believe us? Just check out these final projects and all the great ideas.

1. Try a completely tiled wall.

We’ve all seen subway tile as a backsplash in a kitchen, but Joanna took the idea one step further and tiled an entire accent wall. The simplicity of the tiles and understated finishes in the rest of the room (like a raw-wood island and white cabinetry) ensures that the design doesn’t go too overboard.

2. Hang a trio of stunning lights over the table.

These lights are stunning enough on their own, so when paired together in a threesome, they make a huge impact. To create a similar vibe, make like JoJo and select a style that comes in a variety of sizes, or hang the lights at a range of heights to keep the display from feeling too heavy.

3. Use a statement color on lower cabinets.

Joanna has an ingenious solution for homeowners who may be a bit apprehensive about using a bold color in their kitchen. By painting just your lower cabinetry, you can dip your toes in a gutsy shade instead of coating it all over your kitchen. Bonus: Keeping color on just the lower cabinets means you won’t make the room feel more snug than it is.

4. Mix up the styling on your open shelving.

It’s no secret that Joanna loves to use open shelving, but it’s her key to styling these shelves that remains a mystery. Here, she managed to make the space pretty practical (with plates, glasses, and pitchers), plus she incorporated some planted greenery and cute felt letter boards to fun things up.

5. Swap in a fun door.

We love this idea for making a basic pantry feel a bit more special. Joanna is well-known for swapping builder-basic doors for vintage styles with tons of personality (she finds them at flea markets like Round Top). The swap immediately adds a warmth and lived-in feel to your kitchen, so keep your eye out for a unique find next time you’re out thrifting (just be sure to measure your doorframe before buying!).

6. Install a two-tiered island.

We’ve written about multi-level islands before, and we still think they’re pretty smart. Here, Joanna set up a space for eating and a lower level designed for chopping, cooking, and prepping. It’s the perfect solution for home cooks and hostesses who like to put on a show while they work. And kids might get a kick out of it too.

7. Be smart about built-ins.

All families seem to want the same thing: more storage. And so its easy to go overboard with way too many cabinets that end up making the space feel too closed in. A few glass doors, well, they help to keep things from feeling like wall-to-wall storage. Use glass-doored shelves to display cake stands, heirloom linens, and other pretty stuff. The bulkier stuff can get hidden away elsewhere.

8. Put shelves in front of your windows.

In addition to storage, people also usually want windows and natural light. The good news: You can have both if you steal this idea to install shelves across a row of windows. By choosing a thin shelf, you’ll get all the extra square footage you need without blocking much-coveted light.

9. Pick out some nice fixtures and finishes.

Joanna puts a ton of love and care into every corner of the homes she designs, and choosing the right kitchen finishes are a huge part of that. Go the extra mile in your space and really consider your cabinet pulls and faucet. You can even consider swapping them out now even though you’re not doing a major kitchen renovation.

Are there any other ideas you’ve gotten from Joanna? Share them in the comments below!