JoAnna Swisher standing at her kitchen counter, wearing a white dress.

The Dream Homes Issue

JoAnna Swisher sitting on an outdoor sofa outside of her home in Georgia.
JoAnna Garcia Swisher's Happy Home On Georgia's Lake Oconee

Letter From The Editors

A mosaic image comprised of a modern living room with golden velvet chair in front of a hearth, a woman using a laptop computer, and a gray chair nested against a white wall with dark green accents.

Even if you knew nothing of a house’s history and walked by it on a Sunday afternoon, you could sense that the place has stories to tell. Southern homes have just as much to do with what we feel as what we see. 

When we started planning this special issue around Dream Homes, our editors knew the value of capturing not only beautiful decorating styles and architectural details, but the visions of the people living behind each door. Whether a carefully preserved cottage, dramatically transformed ranch, or brand new build, the spaces are united by thoughtful design decisions and meaningful personal touches.   

That soulfulness is exactly what we found when we stepped inside JoAnna Garcia Swisher’s house, located on picturesque Lake Oconee in Eatonton, Georgia. In her exclusive interview with Homes & Features Editor Betsy Cribb, JoAnna talks about the importance of creating a happy and comfortable sanctuary for her family and the guests she welcomes there. The Florida native and Sweet Magnolias star fills her interiors with colorful textiles, family photos, and treasured collections, like her late mother’s salt and pepper shakers. “It’s about telling your story and surrounding yourself with things that mean something, a memory,” says JoAnna. 

You’ll find that same sentiment running through this issue, as other homeowners embark on their own design journeys. When Meg Kelly walked into an outdated Nashville ranch, she was sold on the smell that reminded her of her grandmother’s house, so she gave it a modern makeover with her signature touch. And when Ellen Kavanaugh discovered an Old Florida charmer in need of a revival, she was transported back to her childhood home. The pull was so strong that she and her husband took on the restoration project with the intent of balancing old and new. 

The beauty of a dream home is that everyone defines it differently, depending on their personal style or phase of life. For some, it’s about having a quiet spot to rest; for others, it’s about creating a place that inspires guests to gather. Whether you’ve just moved into your first rental apartment or have settled into your forever house, we hope you’ll find inspiration in this issue for making your place your dream home. –Southern Living Editors