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AT HOME | a blog by Joanna Gaines

Episode 05 - The House of Symmetry

January 5, 2016

Nyofi7GLzsO6grQckmA30sxNiXdLhl_3hI0w7rh9mqg Chip and I were excited to help our clients, the McKenzies, find a home closer to town. This couple had spent years living in the country, and were looking for the convenience of nearby grocery stores and good schools for their kiddos. The challenge here was finding an older house with character that fit Val’s style. When we found the House of Symmetry house in the Waco suburb of Woodway, they immediately knew it was the perfect size and location for their family.

Dansby-Floorplan Options

The McKenzies weren’t in need of two dining spaces in their current season, so I converted the breakfast nook room into her creative space. Val owns an Etsy shop making handmade frames, and oftentimes works from home. With this in mind, I designed a craft room that could also serve as her home office.


We started by designing custom built-in cabinets and open shelving for her supplies storage. The butcher-block countertops brought warmth to the dark gray cabinets, and we added backsplash made of galvanized metal sheets that matched the feel of the space, but also doubled as a magnet board for an unexpected and practical twist.  


craft room detials

I also added this sink and faucet as a convenience for when she’s crafting. It looks antique, but was actually just a fun throwback replica. I added interest to the wall behind it by having these custom paint swatch prints made by a local graphic designer and friend, Clayton Thompson. These swatch prints will be added into the Magnolia Home Accessories Line come February, and will be for sale both in my store and in retailers near you.



The craft room island was designed by me with function in mind, and brought to life by my carpenter, Clint Harp. Fun fact about this island is that it will be featured in my Magnolia Home Furniture line!


We used pinewood to create shiplap wainscoting for the bottom half of the walls to add clean lines and texture. The local lumberyard had these boards in stock and we spaced them out using a pencil in between each plank. After nailing them to the wall, we sanded and painted the planks a fresh, white color.

The master bedroom suite renovation was a simple job. All this room required was a fresh coat of paint, flooring, and new lighting.




To stay on-budget we decided to keep the master bathroom’s original footprint and get creative, rather than rearranging all the plumbing lines. The space got a completely new vanities and a Carrara marble tiled walk-in shower. Like the craft room was important to Val, a custom shoe closet was important to Mike, so we made sure to incorporate it where the pre existing bathtub stood. The vanity countertops were replaced with Volakas Marble, and featured a dark gray paint color and brushed nickel hardware.



bathroom detials

The living room renovations were highlighted by the character of the brick fireplace, which added texture to the space and really made it feel like a room to gather in. An added unique feature was the living room mantel- which is actually a repurposed railroad tie.

living room before & after

The original shelving units in this space were outdated and unimpressive, so we added fresh, new built-in shelving that I designed to look like a detached bookcase. We stained the top and installed shiplap on the back to continue the same feel from the craft room.



This room, coupled with the dining room, were both huge undertakings on the McKenzie project structurally, because we completely reworked the layout. We took out the main entry wall, and vaulted all of the ceilings in this main room. Originally the ceilings were fairly low, and Mike McKenzie is a tall guy, so this made the project worth the budget dollars and practical for the family. The wood beams were added to highlight the dramatic vault and make this space feel really grand and to break up the white ceiling.

kitchen b&a
The same flooring and soft gray color was continued throughout the living and dining rooms.

dining room detials

The original kitchen was dark and dated, and it was important to Val that this be the heart of the home, so it didn’t need to be relocated. We found these unique corbels and installed them to tie in to the main room’s wooden beams. We hung them in both corners of the kitchen to frame and define the space. Sticking with Val’s classic and neutral style, I chose textured, handmade subway tile, and decided to make a statement by taking it all the way to the ceiling. To keep with the airy feel of this room, I designed the iron and glass open shelving unit beside the vent hood, and added an etched glass pantry door, and wood and black accents throughout.

dining room before & after

The island was custom built and made of cedar wood planks, sealed and kept natural in color. To add contrast, I went with white marble countertops on the wood island, and Brazilian black granite countertops for the surrounding white cabinetry. We also did plenty of upper cabinets for ample storage space. To finish, we added these classic pendants and all new hardware and stainless steel appliances.

kitchen side by side

kitchen detial

The original exterior was already charming, and didn’t need much work. The front door was brought out and made into a double front door, and we added sconces and planters to draw attention to the entryway. We freshened up the trim with a coat of white paint, and added white shutters and fresh landscaping to polish it up. It was fun to show people how to add curb appeal for under $10,000.

The House of Symmetry

The McKenzie House turned out to be a diamond in the rough, and Chip and I were grateful to have the chance to reveal its true potential to these sweet clients. Thank you, McKenzie family! We hope you’ll be happy here for years to come!

Photos by Rachel Whyte.


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  • Marcel
    12:30 pm, October 10, 2017
    Hey Jo & Chip, just watched that episode in Germany today :-) Keep up the great work and all the best from Dusseldorf to Texas. Regards, Marcel + parents
  • Denise
    11:45 pm, October 4, 2017
    Ich liebe deinen stil !!!! Solltest ihr mal nach Deutschland kommen, sagt bescheid . Ich stand nie auf den landhaus look ,bis ich gesehen habe was du daraus zaubern kannst .....? ich warte noch darauf das es eure serie in deutsch gibt ,dann werde ich sie auf jeden fall kaufen !!!
  • Maura
    8:07 pm, October 1, 2017
    Where is the bedding from? I love it!
  • Rocky
    9:40 pm, September 24, 2017
    I remember this episode and thinking, "What an amazing art room, with great natural lighting and the uniquely made table!'
  • Susie Geesu
    3:42 pm, August 23, 2017
    Jo Jo, you and chip are awesome, love the show, love watching you design n chip you funny too, can't wait to see more of your fantastic work, God Bless, big fan from Australia
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