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AT HOME | a blog by Joanna Gaines

Design Tips from the Baker house

January 9, 2018


Thank you for watching tonight’s episode of Fixer Upper! My favorite room in the Baker house has to be the kitchen and dining room. Having these two rooms combined into one makes for a functional place for family dinners or parties. And because this is where people will naturally gather in the home, I wanted to mix a few fun and surprising elements in with traditional ones to make the space balanced and really interesting without feeling too trendy.


It’s easy to get stuck in a box when thinking about what kind of island you want in your kitchen, but you don’t always have to go with the large, custom-built style. In fact, at times the large ones make a kitchen feel closed off and smaller than it really is. In this case, I used a refinished antique table as the island. Because it’s not solid on the bottom like traditional kitchen islands and it doesn’t obscure your visibility into the rest of the kitchen. This allows the room feel open while still providing extra prep space.


Incorporating unique window treatments can really make a difference in a room. Blinds or curtains are the typical go-to, but using these bi-fold shutters added an extra layer of character that is harder to achieve with classic window coverings. They’re also fully functional—easy to open during the day to let in natural light and then close at night for privacy. Our cabinet maker built these shutters out of the same wood as the vent hood, which allows for the kitchen to feel more cohesive because all of wood tones in the room tie together.



If you’re wanting to try a patterned backsplash, but you’re a little nervous to venture outside of the traditional-style tile look, my advice is to use a subtle color palette and go with a timeless pattern. For this kitchen, I wanted to use something that wouldn’t feel dated in five years, but would be a little playful and bring color to the room. This particular tile has a familiar pattern that’s been around for a long time and is a shade of blue that seems classic and acts as a neutral in this kitchen. The tile brings some interest to the kitchen without losing the traditional style.


Just like with your island, don’t be afraid to think outside the traditional vent hood. Have fun designing it! You can go online and see hundreds of different styles—you don’t have to go with your standard cabinet grade version. A vent hood is a perfect opportunity to visually break up your cabinetry by bringing in dimension and different materials or patterns.


I’ve always loved cement countertops, and I thought they’d be great in this kitchen with the blue tones in the backsplash and the warmth of the wood details. We have these at the Farm and they’re so easy as far as maintenance goes. I really feel like they get better over time and every bit of wear and tear on them tells a story of time spent in the kitchen. But my biggest piece of advice with these is to make sure you hire somebody who has installed them before. Concrete is a heavy product—it’s hard to work with once it has started to set and will start to crack really easily if not installed correctly.


In this kitchen, instead of using traditional pendant lights over the island, I chose to install sconces on the back wall to balance out the window. Because there are no hanging lights breaking up the flow of the kitchen, your eye is really drawn to the other details of the room like the window, sink, tile and vent hood. If you feel like your kitchen is too small for hanging pendants, opting for wall sconces is a great way to open your space up a bit.


Because this kitchen’s ceilings were low, I decided to go with a single open shelf, rather than typical upper cabinets. The simple, clean line of the thin wooden shelf allows for an open feel, avoiding the heavy look that traditional cabinetry would bring. By bringing in this extra white space above the shelf, it creates a visual ‘rest’ and allows for the other design details in the room to stand out. We incorporated a lot of open shelving into this home, rather than traditional closed cabinetry, to ensure the homeowner had plenty of room to display her beautiful woven baskets and other favorite collections.


I wanted this dining space to be a cohesive part of the kitchen, while still feeling distinctively different. So, we installed a wood-paneled wall with a built-in bench seat paired with an antique table. This focal wall and bench seating is a great way to combine your kitchen and dining rooms—especially if you’re short on square footage. To prevent the bold black statement wall from feeling too heavy, I didn’t take the paneling all the way up to the ceiling and added a ledge at the top for plants, cookbooks, picture frames, serving pieces or her baskets.

Thanks again for watching tonight’s episode! Be sure to come back here next Monday to see all of the design inspiration, before and after photos, and the story behind Mrs. Baker’s house. Be sure to comment below to let me know what your favorite room from this home was!


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  • Grace
    11:53 pm, January 21, 2018
    Black Oak Art. They are online.
  • Amy
    6:37 pm, January 21, 2018
    Where can I order the personalized pottery and dishes shown on this episode?
    • Sharon
      6:58 pm, January 21, 2018
      I'd also like to know if the personalized pottery can be ordered?
    • Grace
      11:52 pm, January 21, 2018
      Black Oak Art. They have a website.
  • Marguerite Miller
    10:27 am, January 20, 2018
    What can I say except that this was another winner. There are so many elements in the kitchen that I would love to apply in my home. Thank you for sharing your talents with us Joanna & Chip.
  • Debbie Cordell
    11:04 pm, January 19, 2018
    Love the back splash in the kitchen. Would love to know what the name of the tile is & where could you find it? I recently got new counter tops with under mount sink, now I'm in need of a back splash.
  • Nancy and Kurt Renninger
    12:47 pm, January 19, 2018
    We love how you helped our former PA neighbor with her house in Waco which jump-started her to a new chapter in her life! You both ROCK! Thank you!
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