Ever wondered how she keeps her living room looking so miraculous with all those kids, pets and, let’s face it, Chip, running around? Us too.

Meghan Overdeep
November 16, 2018

If a house has one room that represents its inhabitants, it should be the living room. But balancing the urge to create a flawless centerpiece for entertaining visitors, and a comfortable space for your family to gather and relax is a tough one. Just ask superwoman Joanna Gaines.

In her new book Homebody, the mom-of-five recalls her own internal struggle with letting go of perfection and letting her living room just be itself.

“Before we moved into the farmhouse, I used to treat my living room the same way I imagine a museum curator might handle an exhibition of treasured artifacts,” the Fixer Upper star recalled. “I longed for it to look perfect around the clock, so I spent many hours a day tidying up couch pillows and immediately picking up any messes my children made, sometimes while they were still making them.”

Then one day she looked around and realized that her living room, the place where “Chip takes some of his best Sunday afternoon naps,” looked nothing like her family.

“Not one of us was represented in this space that was supposed to be central to us living together,” she continued in Homebody. “On top of that, I had spent so much time cleaning up any trace of my kids that this room had become a place they didn’t even feel comfortable in.”

Thumbing through gorgeous photos of said living room (which happens to be nearly all-white), we couldn’t help wondering how she keeps it looking so miraculous with all those kids, pets and, let’s face it, Chip, running around. Luckily for us, in a recent conversation with Southern Living, Joanna was willing to reveal her two-part secret: boundaries and Scotchgard.

“The kids know from early on—the rule has always been you eat in the kitchen or the dining room. We’ve always had light furniture and it’s just been a rule ever since they were little,” the design maven shared. “We have drinks and stuff in there and you know, there have been spills… we’ve had Cheetos.  And again, I took precaution early on and spray the couches with Scotchgard.”

“I do what I can. Because Chip is their father there are a lot of footballs being thrown,” Joanna added with a laugh.  “We have two boys—now three—so of course there’s going to be ball throwing. We’ve broken some vases. It’s part of it.”