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AT HOME | a blog by Joanna Gaines

Episode 06 - The Safe Gamble House

January 8, 2018

This particular home holds a special place in my heart. Chip and I actually purchased it to be a flip home project that we planned on renovating and then selling. But right about the time we started working on it, my little sister Mary Kay (but we call her “Mikey”) and her husband David found out they were moving back to Waco for his job. I knew they would love this house, so the whole thing was perfect timing. Mikey and I are really close and always have been. When she and David got married, they lived right next door to us. About nine years ago, they made the moved for David’s Med School, and they’ve been away ever since.

Mikey and David have been talking about moving back home to Waco for a long time, and the timing was actually perfect for them to fall in love with this beautiful house. So it’s been a long time coming, but my baby sister is FINALLY moving back to Waco! And to sweeten the deal, Chip and I got to help them create their dream home.


The inspiration materials I used to interpret the style of the family’s home

Mikey and David have a very fun style. Mikey loves the mid-century modern and the vintage style, and David appreciates that Adobe, almost southwestern feel. We really went bold with our color palette, patterns, and nostalgic details, like wallpaper and macrame. The architecture of the house naturally lends itself to mid-century, so we complemented this by incorporating a lot of clean lines, interesting shapes, and minimalistic details.


Objective | Open up the space more to the kitchen to make the room feel bright and airy for the family to spend time together


Objective | Utilize the original layout and natural light to make the space feel open and inviting


Objective | Make the room multifunctional for work, storage, and play


Objective | Blend bold color and texture together to create a space that lives up to the vintage style this couple loves


Objective | Keep the original footprint, but give the space a modern update


Objective | Move the mechanical closet to give the family a bigger and more functional laundry space


Objective | Give the original ranch style exterior a modern update to match the interior

I loved every second of getting to work with Mikey and David to design this home, and getting to share this experience with her will always make this one of my very favorite Fixer Upper projects. What makes it even sweeter is that this means Mikey is moving HOME, and that just can’t be beat. Chip and I truly couldn’t be happier to welcome the McCall crew back to Waco!

Interview With Homeowner

Q: What was something that surprised you about the design process?

A: I didn’t realize at first how we would have a lot of say in what we wanted in our house and how easy and peaceful it all would be. You give Jojo ideas and pictures of what you like, and then her and her team take it from there and make it happen—but far above what you even anticipated.

Q: What made you want to live in this home?

A: I loved that the house was a ranch style home with just what we needed in this season… 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, a main living area with a kitchen and a gameroom—no extra wasted space. I love functional, practical spaces. We also liked the neighborhood and the area in general.

Q: What is your favorite room in the house, and why?

A: Oh my that’s hard I love every room and corner of the house! And the outside space in the front is dreamy! Initially David and I both thought the game room was our favorite… I love all the pops of color in there and all the storage space and functionality of the room, but the more I’m in that main living room and kitchen area, the more it becomes my favorite with all the bright light coming through those big windows, and I love the fireplace… when I’m in that part of the house with the mid century lighting and furniture I feel like I’m living in a different era. Time slows down and I want to sip coffee by the fire with our old Bing Crosby records playing in the background and just sit and enjoy David and our 6 kiddos.

Q: What is your favorite feature in the house and why?

A: We love all the windows and natural light! So good for all my plant babies and real babies. The house we lived in before was dark and natural light just makes us all a bit more happy.

Q: How did your home balance design and functionality?

A: I couldn't have imagined a more perfect blend of design and functionality. I don’t like wasted space or pretty spaces that don’t really serve a purpose. I love all the built-ins by the fireplace and in the gameroom… the cabinetry feels very mid century and offers practical space for storage and sitting.

Q: How was it getting to work with your sister to design your home?

A: I have wanted Jojo and Chip to do a house for us since we first got married 13 years ago, so this was a dream come true! Jojo knows my style more than anyone, so I had complete confidence that she would design the perfect home for us.

Q: How did you decide on the design of the house? What inspired the choice?

A: I have always loved mid century with a touch of the 70s. Anything that reminded me of my grandparents’ house—from their mustard yellow couch and curtains to their cute little kitchen with colorful vintage trinkets—has always made me happy. Hollywood ranch style homes in the 50s and 60s always appealed to me as well. David and I love the great outdoors and some of our fondest memories with our kids are spending time in the mountains of northern New Mexico. It’s always been my dream to live in a house that feels like that mid century time period. Jojo, as only she could do, was able to incorporate all these different design aspects of mid century modern, New Mexico flavor and a touch of the great outdoors into one home.

Q: What was your favorite thing about the renovation process?

A: I loved that I virtually had to do nothing except show Jojo a few inspirational pictures. It really is the most amazing thing on reveal day because you haven’t seen the house since demo day or lifted a pinky and it feels like the biggest surprise and gift. It’s an overload of beauty at every corner and you feel so known and loved. It is truly overwhelming.

Q: Was there anything that surprised you about getting to work with your sister and Chip?

A: We knew it would be amazing, but it really did exceed our expectations. It was above and beyond what we could have imagined. Every single room and detail was so well thought out. It’s hard not to feel completely overwhelmed just walking into each room, because you know they poured their whole hearts into every space in that home. There’s so much love and beauty in that house!

Q: How was your own personal style revealed in the home?

A: The color choices, abundance of plants, decor, wallpaper and fixture choices…all of that stuff I would have hand picked myself. Joey knows me so well. And when a friend or family member walks in, they say, “This house looks and feels just like you.” This is a true testament to Jojo and Chip and how they can create a home that perfectly fits the people who live there.



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  • Loren
    11:47 am, March 19, 2018
    In love with the mirror over the fireplace in the living room - any idea where it's from?
  • Megan
    12:31 am, March 10, 2018
    Please share what paint color is on the living room walls in The Safe Gamble House? Thank you!
  • David B
    4:41 pm, March 5, 2018
    Love the mid-century modern style! Where did you purchase the sofas and chairs, especially the teal chairs?
  • Deborah Sabov
    11:15 pm, March 4, 2018
    Love the wallpaper in the master suite — have looked at your wallpaper lines and cannot find — can you steer me in the right direction please
  • Carol Chismar
    10:09 am, March 3, 2018
    Please tell me the manufacturer/store where I could get the leather living room couch in this season five episode six show. I have searched and searched and can't find a similar style. Thanks for all your inspiration! Carol
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