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Chip and Joanna Gaines Spill Their Top Curb Appeal Tips

Chip and Joanna Gaines on a front porch

MyDomaine / Courtesy of Chip and Joanna Gaines

Creating amazing curb appeal for your home doesn’t have to be overwhelming or expensive. Ahead of their partnership with James Hardie, Chip and Joanna Gaines, founders of Magnolia, a Texas-based home and lifestyle brand that includes Magnolia Network, Magnolia Home, and Silos Baking Co., among others, shared with MyDomaine their favorite tips for making a home the envy of the neighborhood. 

You can visualize the design possibilities of the Magnolia Home | James Hardie Collection with the HOVER Design Studio app, where a 3D digital model different exterior looks—including colors, siding and trim—to your home. 

MyDomaine: What’s the one mistake people make when trying to enhance their home’s curb appeal? 

Joanna: Not realizing that small details can have a big impact! I always say start by painting your front door a new color, fill some planters with seasonal flowers (I always include ivy) and then put down a great doormat. Door, flowers, doormat—and you’re done. You don’t need to spend a lot. You can do all of this for less than $150 bucks. If your budget allows, consider shutters and updating your landscape or adding lighting. All of this will contribute to your home’s overall appeal. 

MyDomaine: Any fun projects you’ve taken on to improve your own home’s curb appeal? 

Joanna: When my children come home from school, stepping through the front door is their welcome home, so I want that area to be inviting. I recently swapped out our solid wood front doors for ones made of glass and gridded iron, added more planters and updated our sconces. Now when my family walks up to the entrance, it feels refreshed and updated.  

Chip: Yes, but I feel sorry for the postman—ever since Jo added those glass doors, he won’t come up to the front porch anymore. He sent us a strongly worded letter asking me to wear more clothing! 

Joanna: I also get excited about the change of seasons and love switching out the flowers in my planters to create a fresh feel. I’m about to convert my summer planters over to fall, adding plants with different textures, which will make a big visual difference. Right now, I’m considering which plants will live longest next season and which ones I’ll be planting for fall.  

Chip: On a sidenote, we live in a really old farmhouse with all these kids and when they run upstairs, they sound like a herd of buffalo. Well, six months ago, Jo put carpet upstairs, reducing the buffalo herd noise by 90%. I still can’t believe how much quieter our kids seem with carpet on the second floor!

Joanna: [Laughing] Chip, that’s not an exterior tip!

MyDomaine: Residing a home can have a dramatic effect on its curb appeal. What’s the most important thing to keep in mind when taking on this project? 

Chip: I would say first and foremost, re-siding the exterior of your house is not a DIY project—leave it to the professionals. Find a contractor with great referrals who has been in the business for a while, especially when making an investment of this size. People rush into the process and find a salesman who appears to have great credentials without doing enough homework. I would almost argue that is the most important part of the entire process. You can use the very best siding product on the market but it doesn’t matter how great the product is if it’s poorly installed. That’s reno 101. You’ll find yourself digging out of a hole right from the start if you hire the wrong contractor. 

MyDomaine: You partnered with James Hardie—what’s so special about their siding? 

Chip: It’s made of fiber cement, a mix of cement, sand, and cellulose fibers, which means it won’t retain moisture, which can lead to rot and warping over time. Plus, it’s fade, chip, and crack resistant and has a proprietary coating that’s baked onto the board so it holds onto color longer. Jo and I love to drive down memory lane and see projects we did twenty years ago with this siding that still look great today.

MyDomaine: Is every house a candidate for James Hardie siding? 

Chip: To convert from a brick or stone house into a sided property is a difficult proposition. But if you have wood, aluminum, or veneer siding, upgrading with a product like James Hardie is a no brainer. With a wood house, you have to deal with high maintenance—repainting every few years and contemplating whether or not bugs like termites have moved in. But with James Hardie, all of those insecurities have been removed from the equation. This is where the rubber meets the road. The material is also noncombustible and won’t ignite when exposed to flames nor will it fuel a fire, which is why I like to use it in the harsh heat and winds of Texas. The best part is when you use this product, you can step away from the house and the siding looks like real wood.

MyDomaine: Choosing an exterior house color isn’t always easy. Any tips on making the right choice? 

Joanna: I’ll always ask my client, “How do you want to feel when you look at your house?” because choosing a color is more of an emotional thing, a process of psychology. I’m drawn to shades that have stood the test of time, including neutrals like grey and beige and nature-inspired colors, such as green and blue, along with some bolder, darker options. I always say have fun with your color selection but be sure to choose something you won’t regret five years from now if it falls out of style.

Chip: People tackling a reno project often get overwhelmed because there are so many options. Jo and I like to simplify processes, making it easy for homeowners to start building the story of their home, which is why Jo was specific about only having 16 colors in the collection. 

MyDomaine: What are your favorite colors in the line?

Joanna: Green, in general, is my favorite color so I lean towards the dried eucalyptus or the chiseled green which look great on a Tudor or a more traditional style home. 

Chip: Rugged path—that’s my favorite—I go by the name—if it’s an attractive name, I like it! 

Joanna: You’re more drawn to the brown family.

Chip: Heck if I know—I just try to build great quality stuff and then Jo comes in and makes it beautiful! [Jo laughs]

MyDomaine: Once a homeowner chooses an exterior color, how do they figure out the rest, for example the trim color?

Joanna: Consider siding to be your base color—once you’ve made that template choice, then you can figure out your trim, door and shutter colors. For example, if you want a moodier feel, and you’re choosing a darker color siding, try a darker trim, for a more tone-on-tone play. If you want a more classic and traditional look, consider a white trim. With neutral colors as your base, you can go bold with your shutter or door color for contrast. 

MyDomaine: Favorite color for a door?

Joanna: Black!

Chip: Black only because it reminds me of Jo’s heart and soul! [Jo playfully punches Chip]  

MyDomaine: How important is it to match your siding material to the architecture and time period of your home?

Joanna: In this case, I’ll ask my client, “What’s the story you want your home to tell?” Some people are passionate about their home’s past, so it’s not about trying to give their home a new story, but more about bringing the original house back to life. Others want to tell a new story, which we often see with homes built in the 70s, 80s and 90s. With these exteriors, we like to have a little fun and give them more character and dimension. What I love about James Hardie is that there are three different styles of siding to choose from: shingles if you want it to feel more cottagey or cozy, board-and-batten if you want a farm or modern style, and then there’s the traditional lap siding. These different options alone can define the story of your home.

MyDomaine: Any final thoughts about creating great curb appeal?

Chip: It’s all about building layers, similar to the philosophy Jo applies to sofas where she builds and personalizes a sofa with throw pillows. You can apply that same thinking and strategy when decorating your exterior.