Joanna Gaines, known for her cozy-yet-cool designs including open-concept floor plans, farmhouse sinks and sliding barn doors, admits having to scale back on the vision of her own home in Waco, Texas, to allow her children to add personality to their own spaces.
"In the past it was hard," she said recently in an interview, having to shift her thinking to, "This is their space. This is what makes them come alive, I need to encourage that."
Gaines says this principle especially applies to her two oldest children, son Drake, 13, and daughter Ella, 11.
"In the main spaces I get to do my thing and incorporate some things that they love but for their rooms, especially this year, there's stuff they're wanting in their room that I wouldn't put in there originally, but now it's fun to watch their room evolve into their personality and give them the freedom to do it."
She remembers that she, too, had her own flair growing up.
"I was into cats. I had cat posters everywhere and my mom let me do it," she said.
She and her husband, Chip, are planning on a return to TV. The couple confirms they are in discussions with Discovery about creating a lifestyle-focused network.
In the meantime, Gaines writes about how she makes a house a home in her new book, "Homebody" (Harper Design), sharing examples from her own farmhouse in Waco, Texas, and homes she's worked on.
She recently talked about design in an interview with The Associated Press.
AP: When you see an empty room, what's the first thing you think about when it comes to decorating?
Gaines: I think, 'OK, how are people going to be walking in and out? What's the pass-through?' I want the traffic. I kind of just try to figure out the footprint and then I start thinking about, 'Where do you put the sofa? Where do you fit the chair or a coffee table?' Then from there I start adding the bookshelves, stuff on the wall. But I think for me the seating is important because that's where everyone is congregating. That's the most important thing.
AP: You also find interesting pieces that either show a person's personality or a family heirloom. What if someone doesn't have any of that but wants to add some interesting pieces to their home that aren't so cookie cutter?
Gaines: I think people need to know that it takes time. You can find things at flea markets, antique stores or even online. It becomes like a treasure hunt.
AP: You seem to like neutrals and black and white. What are your thoughts on color in design?
Gaines: I love the contrast of black and white and I think it's timeless and no matter what style or genre, black and white can fit into that. I love to implement color with rugs and pillows and art. But if I'm working with clients who love color, I'm all about a colored sofa or piece of furniture. For me, I love a neutral palette, I think it's calming. But I like keeping it simple and layering colors in later so then when I'm tired of it, I can shift that out simply with a pillow.
AP: When you do have a client who has a different style than you do, is that a fun exercise?
Gaines: It's so fun. To me, it's a way of getting things out through other people. For me, we're staying at the farmhouse, so it's a fun way to try out other styles.
AP: What about decorating for the holidays? Do you like themes? What do you like?
Gaines: Thinking about the farmhouse, I love just layering in the textures and so it's really simple. Obviously the tree, the garland and the stockings, but simple, subtle colors. That's when there's red, the pillows, the throw blankets, the tree skirt. The holidays can be really busy and home is a place where we can unwind and rest. If there's too much clutter, I think it's hard for all of us to feel at ease. I try to keep it minimal but bring in the reds and greens.
AP: That brings up the question of clutter. You want decorative accents but when is it too much?
Gaines: A lot of this is gut instinct. What I feel is enough may not be enough for others. I think when you're looking at your space and you feel like, 'OK, I think I've got it,' you can stop.