Book Club: The Magnolia Story


Okay so this book isn’t on the giant list of books I said I would read and write about, but as I enjoyed this book immensely I felt it was necessary to write about it (and recommend it)! I love Chip and Joanna Gaines; their HGTV show “Fixer Upper” has to be among my top 10 most-favourite TV shows. Reading this book only further enhanced my adoration.

Perhaps I love their show so much because it is completely opposite to my career as it stands; I work mainly with large projects focused on the form and function of Architecture, and with an entire Interior Design team at hand I rarely have need to delve into that side of design. Despite that, I love interior design and quite frankly admire many interior designers who have the ability to embody my particular style (or desired, sought-after, and rarely achieved style) – clean, simple, and modern, yet classic.

Their adorable farmhouse.

I also love the show because they take decrepit and tired old homes, sometimes VERY historic homes, and transform them with utmost respect for the history of the place and with tasteful modifications where necessary. I love historic buildings – I have a degree in Art History and my favourite classes had to do with Architectural History.  I also am in favour of adaptive re-use, modern interpretations to compliment old buildings, and preservation of our visual and physical histories.

The Magnolia Story isn’t just about their successful business, it is about their journey and it describes their entire lives up until the book was released in 2016. Joanna talks about who she was before she met Chip, how she met and fell in love with him (he was not who she thought she’d marry), their struggles through the beginnings of their business (including some pretty serious financial debt and living in many of their flip houses through renovations), and their steadfast relationship. Chip adds in commentary throughout the book, which is fun as its interesting to see the same situations from both their perspectives. This is what I admire most about them, their great marriage. The show shows the working together, the fun, and that they don’t take themselves too seriously. The book shows just how deep that trust, love, and respect for one another really is.


Magnolia Story also demonstrates that with hard work and determination you can achieve anything. Joanna was never trained in Interior Design, and Chip is self-taught when it comes to construction – what they have achieved is through experience, learning from others and building relationships. A true story of ‘building from the ground up.’ And Joanna isn’t flippant about how hard it was! She also talks about how lucky they were to land the HGTV show, and I respect that she realizes this could have just as easily never happened. Thing is, I think they still would have been equally as successful in Texas just maybe not as well known.

I love that the book goes beyond just talking about their jobs and the TV show – she gets very personal and talks about her values, her inspiration, and her struggles. It is so authentic and real, and it has only solidified her as one of my role models. In fact, after reading this book I feel as though I am able to better define my own goals.

“I always thought that the “thriving” would come when everything was perfect, and what I learned is that it’s actually down in the mess that things get good. It was such a blessing to find myself thriving in the middle of the pain. Unless you find a way to do that, there’s always going to be this fake illusion that once you get there – wherever “there” is for you – you’ll be happy. But that’s just not life. If you can’t find happiness in the ugliness, you’re not going to find it in the beauty either.”- page 168.

Of all the quotes from this book, this is the one that has stuck with me the most. We live in a world where the illusion of perfection is everywhere. She speaks of a breaking point in her life where she realized she was merely surviving, instead of thriving. She was so focused on what she should have according to society that she wasn’t appreciating what she did have, which was a great family, a wonderful home, and amazing friendships. I think we can all identify with this; and I’ve certainly been more inspired to just appreciate it ALL after reading this book.


In short this book taught me that trusting in yourself and your abilities is the key to success, and that success is all relative. Success is not having a TV show and being known by millions across the globe (it could be, but it is not exclusively), success is long-lasting relationships, investment in your family and friends, and passion for your work. Happiness is what you make it.





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