AT HOME | a blog by Joanna Gaines

Joanna's Look Back on 2016

December 23, 2016

Once again, it’s hard to believe another new year is upon us. I wanted to take the time to sit down and let you all know how thankful we are for your support, prayers, and continued encouragement.

What a whirlwind 2016 has been. We started the New Year with the airing of Season 3 of Fixer Upper – we were honored to be a part of many unique projects that led to great memories and new friends. The idea of home has been the focus of our business from the beginning, so this will always be our favorite part of what we get to do. The experience of restoring and renovating an old home never gets old.

During our break from filming in March, we took the kids on a ski trip to Colorado. Chip was the only one (out of all six of us) that had been skiing before, so let’s just say Chip had his hands full. At one point he told me I was harder to help coach down the mountain than all four of our kids combined. Ouch! I would say most of our “marital debates” of 2016 happened on a mountain in that one week. It was rough and let’s just say if we ever go back, you’ll find me sitting by the fire drinking a warm cup of cocoa. The kids, on the other hand, picked up skiing like it was nothing and are begging to go back. It was a sweet time to just get away and enjoy time together as a family minus the part about fighting on the mountain… I swear he had me start on a slope that was too steep for a beginner. Anyways, moving on…

We started filming Season Four of our show in February, and so began the scheduling of 15 overlapping renovations in the Waco area. We got to top off the season by restoring the tiny building at the Silos which was once a floral shop, now turned bakery! Chip and I loved that the kids were a part of the big reveal. 

Chip and I wrapped up the writing of our book, The Magnolia Story, in May. We really enjoyed the opportunity to go down memory lane and revisit all of the good and not so good times that have been a part of our journey. We look back with so much appreciation for the lessons we have learned along the way. We also wrote about some of our more embarrassing moments as a couple… For instance, that one time we both had like 9 warrants out for our arrest for “dogs running at large.” Jail time for one of us was involved. If that’s not click bait news, I’m not sure what is.

Moving on to the summer, what was once a faraway dream became a reality for me when we started to work on the premier issue of our magazine, The Magnolia Journal. An exciting aspect of my work is the opportunity to connect with people from all different places in life. I hope to help people create experiences in their homes and everyday lives that are both meaningful and intentional.  The magazine process has by far been one of my favorite projects to work on because of all of the thought that goes into each story- it’s not just about pretty pictures. My hope is that no matter who picks it up, they will be inspired in a thoughtful way in their own life.

Summer was full of new projects and deadlines for the magazine and the show. The kids loved getting to come to work with us a lot and they also picked up a few new hobbies that kept their creative minds churning.

(Girls learning to weave on a loom. Boys practicing woodworking.)

 As Fall rolled around, and the Fixer Upper projects wrapped up, I knew things were about to get crazy. Fall is typically busy because of the release of my new collections of furniture, accessories, rugs, paint and wallpaper. There is a fresh batch of new product that comes out every year in the Spring and Fall – I love it because it keeps me on my creative toes, to say the least. One thing that has been special in all this is including our kids. Whether it’s setting up a showroom at market, designing wallpaper, or learning the science behind paint – the kids have been with me. When and if we have to travel for work, Chip and I always try to bring one or two of the kids with us so we get special time with each child. It’s something we all look forward to and shifts the focus from being busy, to unique time with the kids.

(The girls got to travel with us to California, Pennsylvania and North Carolina this year.)

This year I had the fun opportunity to collaborate with Matilda Jane, and my girls were particularly fond of that project. They have worn Matilda Jane dresses since they were babies, so the idea of designing clothing for little girls was an easy “yes” for me. The girls loved being a part of the process and I love the sweet, innocent way about this line.

In October, our book and magazine finally hit the shelves. After all that hard work, it was a joy to see the finished product. We owe you guys a big thank you and lots of hugs. We have been so floored by all the support. Thank you for being interested in our story and sharing it with others. 

We also celebrated our second year at the Silos with our annual Silobration! The grounds and bakery were finally complete and all the amazing vendors and food trucks made it extra special. We enjoyed celebrating with many of you that weekend.

November brought a month break from filming and we used that time to catch our breath as a family and just be together. It was a good month for us to just slow down and get ready for the holiday season.

Fixer Upper Season 4 started airing this month.  We can’t wait for you to see the houses we’ve worked all year on, and the amazing clients that now call these projects home. There were quite a few tear jerkers for us in Season 4 and some really special stories that made this one of the best seasons yet.

Here we are now in December, and I’m scrambling to get all of my last minute Christmas shopping done, and trying to figure out the holiday menu for this weekend. As I reflect back on this past year, it was a really good one. Of course in life and in all the busyness, there will always be those up and down moments. Our life looks very different than it did five years ago, but we still feel like two small business owners placed in the middle of a small but beautiful town called Waco, TX. Our main focus from the beginning has always been our family and then tending to our local business here. We want to be the best partners for each other and the best parents we can be to our four children – that is and always will be our main priority. We plan to continue to run our business here in Waco the same way we have for over 15 years. We’ve always strived to serve and love people from all walks of life, regardless of who you are or what you do. We are in the restoration business. Our job is to find beauty in all things, whether it’s an old house or someone’s story.

Annnnd now for the New Year. We have some cool new projects coming that we will keep you updated on as we make progress. Our new restaurant is opening in 2017 which will serve breakfast, brunch and lunch. Chip has wanted a breakfast joint for years and he finally found the perfect spot for it, and I’m not going to lie, he is also super excited about serving ham sandwiches and bacon. The Elite Cafe was one of the oldest restaurants in Waco, but it closed down last year and we are excited about bringing it back to life.

Photo credit: Elite Café archives

We are going to finally tackle the renovation of the actual Silos! We are finalizing all the architectural details and are planning to start in the next couple of months.  If you have been to the Silos you’ve probably seen Chip’s tiny little corner or you may have missed it because it’s that small. He will finally get his hardware/general store that is going into one of the Silos. Our goal is to have that project completed by the end of next year.

Well, that was long winded! Before I wrap up, I wanted to say that we couldn’t do any of this without our amazing Magnolia family. We are so grateful for their dedication and hard work. In a nutshell, we are thankful for this ride of a lifetime- we feel God has been with us on every mountain top and in every valley. Grace upon grace He has given us.

We sincerely hope and pray that this New Year brings you new hopes, new dreams, and new beginnings. May this truly be your best year yet.

Merry Christmas from Chip, Jo and the kids!

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  • Dana Murphy
    1:29 pm, January 23, 2017
    Dearest Joanna I have heard that you are doing a devotional and was wandering how I could get a copy of it. Thank you for your fellowship of letting your light shine for the world to see. Because its all about him.
  • Susan Coffman
    4:18 am, January 23, 2017
    Joanna and Chip - I was just at the Silos this past weekend and absolutely loved it! You all have done so much in such a short period of time! Everything and everyone was fantastic! I can't wait to come back and I am really excited to do a fun girls weekend later this year with some friends! Until then keep up the great work! You all are fabulous!!! Oh and LOVE the cupcakes!
  • Kyla Preston
    10:35 pm, January 22, 2017
    Keep up the amazing work Joanna and Chip!! Love your show and family!! So inspirational!!
    May God Bless you too in this New Year...
  • Samantha
    9:35 pm, January 22, 2017
    I love your story. You are my absolute favorite. Your designs inspire me as I build the house of my dreams. My boyfriend and I have been together 12 years. We are high school sweethearts. Since day one our dream was to build a house together and one day start a family in it. We have started this journey in 2010 when we bought 22 acres of land. After all the approvals we started clearing the property in 2013. We have now started the house of our dreams in September 2015. My boyfriend is a mechanical contractor so we have done most of the work ourselves. Our projected date to be done is around April of this year. I've have watched all your shows throughout my building process and your style has shown in my house. I love all your designs. I wish you could come and put your touch on the inside of my house. You guys are amazing!
  • Barbara
    6:25 pm, January 22, 2017
    Your paragraph about skiing had me laughing as I remembered working in ski shops in Colorado and later in Texas. Your recounting of the week is one that I heard from so many couples! Here's my advice to the husband who skis and wants his wife to love it as much as he does: give her the gift of lessons! Meet for lunch and admire the view. Encourage each other! As you leave the restaurant and split up again, go ahead and show off for her and let the kids do the same! But if you really want her to enjoy herself, don't help her! On the other hand, if you need a week in the mountains with your buddies every year, be honest. She might rather go to the beach with her girlfriends that week than be coached down a mountain. (wink)
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