AT HOME | a blog by Joanna Gaines

Episode 08 - The School House

January 26, 2016

Chip and I had so much fun with our sweet newlywed friends this week! The Joneses were both Baylor grads who recently moved back to the Waco area. Since they’d finally settled here in Waco, they were ready to make their first home purchase together. Jeff and Sara were interested in being in the heart of Waco, and fell in love with the “School House” because of its good bones, spacious floor plan and its big backyard. All it needed was a little character and updating. Combining this couple’s styles: Sara- formal yet eclectic, and Jeff- modern and simple, was such a fun design challenge for me.

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I wanted the Joneses to open up the door to their home and immediately be wowed. It was a dream of Sara’s to have a really beautiful and formal entryway, so I started by incorporating this gray wainscoting into the design, and carried it in different places throughout the home. I also added this simple black and white marble tile pattern, and finished it off with this unique chandelier and detailed wall sconces.

It was number one on the clients’ list to have a completely open floor plan, so we took down a wall separating the front of the house from the back and added a large beam for support. This made their space ideal for entertaining guests.

The living room itself was a simple update, and I loved how much natural light was already in this area. The main change here was this added black arch leading from the entryway into the living room, which allowed it to flow perfectly from one space to the next.

Jeff and Sara have two playful dogs, so they wanted tile flooring that gave the look of wood, and that would be really durable. We used this same flooring throughout the home. We also did something a little unique, and used dark trim and light paint colors on the wall.  

The kitchen in this home was one of my favorite rooms in the house. Just as Sara dreamed of a formal entry, a simple yet modern kitchen was important to Jeff. I used classic subway tile, but to mix in Sara’s eclectic style, I added teal lower cabinets. To add texture, we took the subway tile all the way to the ceiling, and some open shelving for a coffee bar and storage.

This kitchen island was one for the books. We continued the Dekton from the countertops and the blue from the lower cabinetry to create this little eat-in bar/island space. I loved the effect this slab of marble made going all the way to the floor. And this island made the lack of upper cabinetry more practical by offering space for the dishwasher, sink and trash drawer. This opened up more cabinetry storage in the lower cabinets, and extra countertop space for food prep.


There wasn’t a designated pantry space in the Jones kitchen, so my friends from Anderson Glass made these antiqued glass panes to go on the doors of the cabinets, creating a perfectly unique pantry alternative.

This area was adjacent to the living room and made the perfect place to add the dining space. I carried the same wainscoting onto the fireplace surround, and we painted the brick black to match the black accents throughout the home. I also added this uniquely detailed chandelier to play to the European style of the home.

We updated the stairways by doing all new railing and new treads, as well as opening up the wall to expose more of the staircase.

Jeff and Sara loved this wooden upright piano that was left in the home by the previous owners. They thought that keeping it after the remodel would retain some of the home’s history and work practically with their love of music.


The office/mudroom area on the back of the house was the perfect space for Sara and Jeff to work. The two of them love to be creative in their own ways, and I knew this shared office space would allow them to retreat and really enjoy editing photos, writing and having quiet time to read and recharge.

This wooden sign above the desk is actually a quote from their wedding day. Sara’s dad officiated their wedding, and this was the sweet prayer he spoke over them.

The mudroom side of the office optimized their space and made it a practical place for them to drop their shoes or coats on their way inside from the backyard.

I wanted the master bedroom to feel cozy with a romantic flare. I went with Sara’s formal style and added this antique mantel and vintage wall sconces to carry the vintage theme throughout the master.


On the exterior of this home, the Joneses were looking to achieve a European cottage style. I really wanted to do something unexpected that would give it character, so we went with this “German Smear” technique to get their desired look. German Smear was a neat alternative to painting the brick, and I loved the way it turned out on this home.

We also raised the windows in the dormers, and installed new wood shingles to match the antique shutters. We added a wooden front door, new columns and all new, appropriate-for-the-style landscaping- making for a dramatic change and a fun reveal for the Joneses.

Chip and I loved working with our clients and friends, Jeff and Sara. We hope these two newlyweds love their new neighborhood and their European style home right in the heart of Waco!

Photos by Rachel Whyte

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  • Angelika
    11:51 am, May 21, 2017
    i LOVE this house! The entryway, the piano, the Chesterfield sofa, the wainscoting and most of all that georgeous bedroom! Although I'm German, I've never heard about that German Smear technique, but I've seen similar house exteriors in my country as well as in France and other European countries.

    Your show is a real pleasure to watch, thank you so much. You are such a nice couple. Can't wait to find my copy of your magazine in my mailbox.
  • Alyssa
    9:10 pm, May 16, 2017
    I love the German smear, and wondered if you've ever done any projects with dyed smear?
  • Angie Waters
    1:28 am, April 10, 2017
    I love the paint choices that you used for this house. I would love to know what you used because we are doing our remodeling a farmhouse and I would love for my kitchen and living room to have these paint colors. I have tried to figure it out myself, but I'm not sure what to use! Love you guys! Thank you so much! Angie
  • Justin
    1:40 pm, March 27, 2017
    What is the sq. footage of this house? How much mortar did you use on the exterior?
  • Patti Gottsacker
    9:07 am, March 24, 2017
    Is there a way I can get a copy of the prayer (for which the custom piece was created) written by her father, Max Lucado? I love his books, and have read many to my kids when they were little (now they are in their 20's)--I just loved hearing/reading the prayer and would like to try to obtain a hard copy.
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