Joanna Gaines' latest bedroom makeover isn't a hit with fans – but design experts love the transformation. Here's why

The designer's latest project has triggered a debate – but experts adore its space-enhancing qualities

Joanna Gaines
(Image credit: GettyImages)

Joanna Gaines's most recent project – described as a 'MiniReni' – saw the designer step momentarily away from extensive renovations and tackle a small home in less than one week. 

As part of the 'simple home refresh,' the Fixer Upper star and Magnolia empire co-owner tackled the bedroom (before and after, below) and, after sharing her work, was met with divided opinions from fans. The unexpectedly controversial talking point in question? Joanna's graphic wallpaper ideas

'From a blank, white space to a cozy bedroom in just two days,' Joanna says. 'Graphic wallpaper and a custom chair rail give this bedroom so much visual interest and function.' 

Some comments, which Joanna herself jokingly drew attention to in her Instagram story, said the 'space resembled an '80s airport bathroom' – while others say the tile-like paper is a modern, masculine addition that's ideal for the boy's bedroom. But what do designers – and you – think?

Perhaps unsurprisingly – Joanna's wallpaper choice was met with approval from top designers, who agree that it has cleverly transformed the previously-blank canvas into a handsome space with improved proportions. How? Well, dark wallpaper, or paint, with a lighter color above is the best way to make a room's ceiling look higher

'We are in the midst of a renewed love affair with wallpaper, so I like to get creative with it. My new favorite is using a bold wallpaper to completely change up the proportions of a room – without having to do any construction,' says Daniel Ian Smith, a San Francisco-based designer from Village West Design.

According to Daniel, there are 'several tricks' that designers use to draw the eye – and one is to create a new 'datum' – as Joanna has done with the paper and chair rail in the bedroom. In interior design, this is usually a horizontal line that anchors the rest of the space.

'Instead of relying on the natural line where the wall meets the floor or ceiling, try mixing things up by creating a new line in between,' Daniel says. 'If the ceiling is too low, make a horizontal line at about eye level and then paint the wall above that the same as the ceiling to give the illusion of more headspace.'

Similarly, if your ceiling is 'disproportionately high', Daniel recommends installing beefier molding around the 7in level. 'Either way, below the new molding, add a wallpaper that is visually heavy (dark-colored or with bold graphics –or both),' he says. 'This is great in already small spaces or as a way to create more intimacy in a too-big space like a large bedroom.'

California-based designer Genevieve Chambliss from Viève Interiors agrees. She adds that – while it's not uncommon to use wallpaper above a chair rail – Joanna Gaines has put her own mark on this designer-favorite technique. 'I love how Joanna Gaines switched that up in this handsome bedroom and did the wallpaper on the bottom half of the room for a little something unexpected,' she says. 

When the wallpaper is in place, the designer says that other small bedroom ideas will quickly fall into place. Solid-colored furnishings – much like the wooden bed and cabinets chosen by Joanna – bring a sense of calm to the otherwise boldly colored space (as do the white bed sheets and neutral-colored pillows). 

'It works particularly well because the geometric print mimics the geometric look of paneling while adding a fun masculine menswear look,' Genevieve adds. 'You get all the fun of the handsome navy print and the calming simplicity of the white to brighten the room.' 

What do you think of the room? Let us know on social media.

Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave | $20.79 on Amazon

Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave | $20.79 on Amazon

Joanna Gaines walks you through creating a home that reflects the personalities and stories of the people who live there. Using examples from her family farmhouse and a range of other homes, this comprehensive guide will help you embrace your authentic design style. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.