Joanna Gaines's living space defines the latest 'California Casual' trend – and it's changing how we decorate

The designer has mastered west coastal style in her Texas home – and Californian experts say we should follow her cue

Joanna Gaines houseplant
(Image credit: Courtesy of Magnolia Network)

HGTV's Joanna Gaines may be best known for re-designing properties around Texas via Fixer Upper – but her own home is (unsurprisingly) just as inspiring. While the Magnolia co-founder broadcasts her distinct modern farmhouse style in other people's homes – her family's living room follows suit: complete with a timeless warm neutral color palette and restored antique goods.

It's easy to spot the modern farmhouse features in Joanna's living space (seen below); however, it's impossible not to note its association with Califonia Casual – this year's newest trend that designers and decorators are championing for its easy, relaxed, lived-in style.

What exactly is Califonia Casual? Drawing from a primarily white color palette, this design trend epitomizes everything we love about minimalist yet quietly luxurious west coastal aesthetic. Other intentional pioneers include the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow  (whose iconic white kitchen is another example of this aesthetic) and her Hollywood counterpart Cameron Diaz who follows suit in her SoCal home.

Joanna famously lives in Waco, but her living room pays homage to the best of the Golden State – starting with the all-important white color scheme, textured wooden elements, and inviting lounge furniture. 

To further accentuate the Californian Casual look, the designer has decorated and accessorized with an industrial style light, a patterned rug, and an abundance of house plants for good measure. All of which have approval from Gina Caulkins, the founder of California Daydreams in San Francisco.

Gina Caulkins
Gina Caulkins

Gina Caulkins is the founder and principal designer at the Marin County interior design studio California Daydreams. Heavily inspired by coastal style and the natural world, she specializes in creating practical yet serene family spaces that are bright and full of texture.

If anybody knows about Californian style, it is Gina Caulkins – the Bay Area native who uses the state as her muse. So, what does Joanna get so right? And how can we replicate this aesthetic in our own homes? Firstly, begin by curating your light sources (including a statement piece like Jo's) rather than opting for too many overhead options.

'Aim to have two to three light sources in your living room. Lighting is the jewelry of the home, and layered lighting adds a more luxe feel,' she says. 'If you only have can lighting, try adding a floor lamp and table lamps or scones.'

Spanifornia interior design trend in California

(Image credit: House of Rio Design Co)

We've seen how Joanna has styled her space with indoor plants and a large rug (that anchors the seating area), but, when it comes to styling the California Casual trend, it's hard to go wrong. 

'Styling is the final layer that really brings your living room together and adds the personal touch,' Gina comments. 

'Think pillows, throws, accessories, and drapery. Your space won't feel complete without it. The individual pieces can be inexpensive, but the goal is to layer textiles and objects to make a living room feel homey and complete. We love to mix in vintage pieces, found items from our clients' travels, and inexpensive decor, sometimes from places like Target.'

Naturally, Joanna's Magnolia is another failsafe place to shop. Here are our favorite finds at the moment. 

And for yet more Jo goodness, we're revisiting her classic book (via Amazon) below.

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.