Joanna Gaines Felt 'Underlying Dread' While Flipping Her First Fixer Uppers — How She Beat It

The former Fixer Upper star said she "feared failure" so she got stuck in her comfort zone

Joanna Gaines hasn’t always been one to push herself out of her comfort zone. In fact, when she first began flipping homes in Waco, Texas, she found herself playing it safe.

“Because I was so afraid of messing up, I wasn’t willing to take a chance on myself,” Gaines writes in an essay titled “Free to Evolve” in the summer issue of her and husband Chip’s magazine, Magnolia Journal‘. (Magnolia Journal is published by Meredith, the parent company of PEOPLE.)

“I feared failure in general, but this hit something deeper and more personal,” the former Fixer Upper star continues. “There was this continual, underlying dread that any one of those decisions that I was trying to pull out of thin air could be the one that proved once and for all that I was no good at this work.”


However, when she started renovating her family’s own home (the farmhouse where she still lives with Chip and their five kids), she gained confidence and opened herself up to new ideas.

“Each home began to feel like a blank canvas where I wanted to create something specific to that place and time,” Gaines writes. “Within the safety of those walls, I felt free to try different design elements to see what was a good fit for our family. It was education by trial and error, and it was during this time that I fell in love with the process of design.”

Magnolia Journal

“It suddenly became fun, freeing even, when the goal wasn’t perfection but rather creating a place that represented everyone under our roof.”

Gaines’s design identity then evolved into the farmhouse-modern style she’s known for — but she didn’t stop there. She explains that her style is continually evolving every day, and as her family grows, the way her home represents her family changes.

“I will always love a timeless design style, and without fail, there will be classic elements that make their way into nearly any project that I undertake.”

“Yet still, nearly every day something new and unexpected catches my eye, something I had never considered before. More than keeping to any specific aesthetic, our homes should evolve, just as our families do.”

To read Joanna’s essay and more, pick up the summer issue of Magnolia Journal.

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