My Failed Attempt At Being Joanna Gaines

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Supposedly, Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” I’m no literary historian, but I also don’t trust memes as my encyclopedia. So maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t. Either way, it’s pretty good advice. Advice I found out the hard way last week.

I am working with one of the most lovely human beings on the planet to transform her teeeeeeny tiny home office. We’ve been going over her vision briefly, in texts, for about a month. The day before our consultation appointment, I got a message that read, “You’re going to hate me.” Fully expecting her to fire me, I held my breath and read, through squinted eyes, “I really want a Joanna Gaines look.”

Oh. Okay. Well, that’s not exactly my style, but not as terrible as getting the ax either. I can work with that. 

Now, I have no particular beef with Joanna Gaines. In fact, quite the opposite. I think she’s stellar. Her designs aren’t far from my own taste. She loves white. White is my favorite color. She loves warm wood and black accents, as do I. She even has a knack for making vintage look cool in a not-too-stage-set kind of way. And that’s the biggest problem: She has a knack for doing something so well that it’s almost impossible to replicate. Too little and the vibe is lost. Too much and you’ve veered into kitsch. 

So I created a Joanna Gaines-inspired pitch for my client. And maybe I went too far. I don’t know. You be the judge. The first pitch is in the picture above. What do you think? Too much? If you happen to like it, here’s the source list. Some of these links are affiliated, which means I may receive a small commission if you buy these products. 

1Wallpaper – $1.29/sq ft
2. Rug – $190
3. Upholstered Chair – $240
4. Bookshelf – $137
5. Desk – $170
6. Desk Lamp – $60
7. Floor Lamp – $90
8. Banker’s Desk Chair – $144
9. Throw – $21
10. Storage Boxes – $11-$15 each
11. Rattan Wall Decor – $60/set of 2
12. Desk Calendar – $10
13. Wall Clock – $30
15. Eucalyptus Garland – $30
16. Faux Plant – $8
Total (wallpaper square footage and storage items TBD) – $1,190

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This is my second pitch and, frankly, where I really veered offtrack. Attempting to separate myself from Joanna Gaines, I actually just lost myself altogether. I guess I was thinking, “hmm.. more femininity is what I need!” and what actually happened is that it turned into mush. Like when you think the pasta’s a little too undercooked so you put the lid back on and walk away for a couple of minutes and then the mailman comes and you unpack five new purchases and put them away and throw out the packaging labels and cut through all those air packs and break down the boxes for recycling and by the time you return to the pot of penne, it’s inedible. I was actually embarrassed to show my client this pitch. Thankfully, she blinked twice and we moved on. All of these pieces alone are great, so if you want the sources, here you go: 

1. Rug – $60
2. Desk – $136
3. Faux Lemon Tree – $90
4. Pillow Cover – $11
5. Ceiling Pendant – $45
6. Pulley Wall Lamp – $90
7. Desk Chair – $140
8. Filing Cabinet – $182
9. Wall Clock – $22
10. Galvanized Storage Bins – $43
11. Office Sign – $17
12. Eucalyptus Branches – $16
13. Wallpaper – $1.50/sq ft
Total – $852

So here’s my third and final pitch. This one, I put my own heart and soul into. I designed this room for my client first and for my own tastes second. But what really came out was a genuinely gorgeous office that melds both of our styles together. I’m very proud of it and luckily, it’s the one she chose. Which just goes to show that you shouldn’t try to mimic someone else. No matter what your brain is telling you, go with your heart. 

That said, I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge how INSANELY POPULAR a designer has to be in order to have an entire genre of style dedicated to her. It’s no longer Modern Farmhouse. It’s the “Joanna Gaines” look. I mean, outside of home design enthusiasts, most people can’t even name one Interior Designer. At least they couldn’t three years ago. Now, if I tallied a random list of people and asked them to name an Interior Designer or Decorator, most would know only one: Joanna Gaines (imagine the clouds parting and the Heavens opening up at the mention of her name). Major props to that woman. She has built an empire the size of Martha Stewart’s. I am in awe. 

So here’s my winning pitch: 

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Okay, so that was a little mean. But obviously I can’t show you a design someone else has paid me for, can I? The good news is that’s it’s only a slight tease. My client has graciously agreed to allow me to share the completed design with my readers, once we’ve finished the installation. So you’ll just have to keep checking back to see how this whole thing ends. In the meantime, check out my blog archives and follow me on Instagram for additional inspiration. 


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