10 Things I Learned When I Took a Design Workshop With Joanna Gaines

"I always like to defy the rules and go the other way."

If you're anything like me, Joanna Gaines is your role model, career idol, favorite television personality, style icon, and girl crush all wrapped up into one person. And sadly, now that , there's only so much time we all have left to learn and be inspired by the designer, which is why I was thrilled when I was invited to attend a paint workshop she was leading with the .

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Attending the workshop wasn't my first time spending time with Joanna and Chip , so I knew there would be tons of helpful tips and inspiring ideas (not to mention, loads of funny antics from Chip). And the Gaineses did not disappoint!

Whether you're a DIY newbie or experienced house flipper, Joanna had so many genius tips to share about choosing colors, creating your dream home, and replicating her Fixer Upper style, while Chip shared some of his best insights for getting the most bang for your buck. Here's everything I learned about design and paint from Joanna and Chip.

1. Paint is the #1 element of a great makeover.

Not only is it the cheapest way to overhaul a space, but it's also the easiest way to make a big impact. "Paint is one of the biggest tools we use in our renovations," Joanna tells CountryLiving.com. "We really believe in the power of paint. For me personally, when I’m meeting with clients, the first thing I always ask is, what do you want your space to feel like? I always know that paint is going to be the biggest tool I can use to get the look they’re wanting."

2. Don't be afraid of dramatic contrast.

While we love an and a serene spaces filled with elegant neutrals, contrast is one of the keys to creating a memorable, beautiful space. “I love contrast," Joanna says. "There are so many details you’d never see if it was just white or just gray.” She also loves playing up bold colors with crisp white trim and using other combinations with high-contrast. Her favorite color combo: classic black and white.

3. If you’re going to do an accent wall, make it really pop.

While she doesn't incorporate them that often, Joanna thinks a statement wall can work when done right. “If the room is shaped right and all the focus is on the backspace, then you can do that wall," she says. "If they’re done right, you don’t think of it as an accent wall." Instead, it just looks and feels like an anchor in the space.

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She also advises homeowners to really play it up. "To me, if you’re going to do an accent wall, go all out and let it have some dimension.” Try some of her design staples: shiplap, wood panels, or pretty wallpaper.

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4. The color paint you choose should depend on how long you'll live in the house.

If you're in the business of flipping or renting, it's best to be conservative with your paint choices. "I would argue, if you’re going to be in a place for 1-2 years, (that’s the way we worked back when we were flipping properties), you’ve got to be conservative because in two years you're selling this house," Chip told CountryLiving.com. "But if you’re going to be in a property for 3-5 years, then that’s a longer term commitment, so obviously you should personalize it and make it your own — don’t worry about the resell part of it."

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Jessica Mattern
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5. There's a reason you react so strongly to colors.

When you look at a pretty pink shade and think "ooo la la," or stare at neon yellow and think "oh no," those are your design instincts kicking in — and Joanna says you should always listen to what they're telling you!

"I think your eye will gravitate towards the colors that are right for you—you don’t have to be a design expert," Joanna says. "We love that paint is emotional. You can go with your gut and your eye will go with the thing that feels right for you. And that’s what’s fun about paint—it’s personal."

6. Green is one of her all-time favorite hues to work with.

When the Gaines first started flipping homes, they used a soft green in almost every home they touched and it's a color they've loved ever since. "Even though we painted every house in Waco green, I’m back to green," she says. "It’s a natural color, but it feels bold. to use today is the she developed with KILZ.

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7. And she's not a huge fan of orange or purple.

There's a reason you don't see shades of pretty lilac or peachy hues in her designs. "Purple and orange are the hardest colors for me," she says. The designer tends to think of purple as being tricky to pull off and too "theme-y" sometimes, though she likes deep, rich shades.

As for orange, she didn't give an explanation, but Chip offered one. "Ironically, she married the orangiest man on the planet," Chip joked. "I think she got all the orange she can handle in me."

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8. Joanna doesn't like trends — and the reason why is pretty inspiring.

One of my favorite things about Joanna is her unwavering devotion to classic design elements (subway tile and shiplap, for instance) and and her ability to experiment without straying too far from her signature style. And there's a reason she's able to balance both: she avoids fads. "The whole ideas of trends, that’s something I shy away from even though I get there are trends in design," she says.

"For me, as a designer and someone who also does renovations, trends are hard for me because I feel like you’re directing people one way and then the next year, if you paint everything one color, you’re painting it another," she added. "So I go more with my gut—what I think is going to happen this year, what I see and what our clients are asking for."

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Jessica Mattern

9. Bathrooms are the best place to experiment with bold color.

Investing the time and money into painting your home can be daunting, especially if your heart longs for brighter colors, so one way to ensure you'll love the outcome is to play with vivid hues in the smallest room in your home: the bathroom. "I like to go bold in bathrooms," she says. "Bathrooms can have their own personality. They’re smaller spaces, and I know people always say if it’s a smaller space, go lighter, but I always like to defy the rules and go the other way."

Joanna likes to pump up the walls with some color or dress up the vanity: "If you want to have wallpaper on the walls or lighter walls, you can paint the vanity in the shade with some brass hardware—that’s just a fun statement that feels a little more unique and makes your space feel different."

10. Colorful trim is her latest obsession.

While trim tends to be an afterthought for many (just paint it white, right?), it's something Joanna is always thinking about and experimenting with. "One thing I feel like I’ve loved doing this past year that I can’t wait to incorporate more of in more unique ways is trim work," she says. Lately she's been using dark trim to contrast with light walls, or to make white walls pop.

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If colorful trim scares you, try a neutral other than white. "Even though it’s a muted color, it can be bold accent," she says.

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