The Magnolia media moguls purchased and renovated a 6,000-square-foot castle in their hometown of Waco, and now they’re showing off the results. In the spring issue of Magnolia Journal, Joanna takes you inside the 130-year-old property and discusses their journey to bringing it back to life.
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“Twenty years is a long time to hold on to a dream. That’s how long Chip waited to get his hands on this mysterious castle in the middle of residential Waco,” Joanna writes in an essay. “For years the castle sat empty. Graffiti coated the walls. Animals found a new home.”
The castle had been on and off the market for years, and Chip had repeatedly put in offers on it. In 2019, one of those offers was finally accepted, and three years later, the couple started working on it. But that was no small endeavor, considering the state it was in. The property was falling apart, and animals had moved in. But that only fueled the couple’s mission to move forward.
“Once we decided that the best way to honor this neglected place wasn’t to reinvent it but to return it to its original state — as a home — that’s really when our wheels started to turn,” Joanna Gaines explained.
Originally inspired by a German castle, the property was built with crown molding, wood paneling, and narrow-plank floors. But they also wanted to make it current, so a modern family could make the most of it as a home. Without a set buyer to design for, Joanna created one in her head.
“I imagined an older couple who love to play cards, sip wine, and host friends and family. Maybe that sounds funny, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that crafting a story would help guide our final decisions,” she writes.
Joanna’s favorite room is the drawing room, which features originally mahogany millwork. Painted a light gray, the room is brightened by the trio of windows cascading in natural light. While the library wasn’t original to the house, Chip and Jo attempted to create a space that looked “as if it had always been there.” Now, it features an arched frame, custom cabinets, and a rolling ladder in front of the bookshelves.
As for Chip’s favorite space, he went with the card room, where the original wood paneling, millwork, and windows were almost all still intact. They added “modern, moody accents,” as well as a portrait of Captain Abeel, the first owner.
Ultimately, the couple found a real lesson in their journey to rehabbing the palatial spread.
“The castle taught us that sometimes the forgotten things in life don’t need a reinvention but just a little dusting off. And the deep-seated dreams within you and me are worth holding on to,” Gaines concludes.
The spring issue of Magnolia Journal is available online now and on newsstands starting Feb. 10.