Reviewed by: Christine Oka, Research & Instruction, Northeastern University Libraries, Boston, MA
The Magnolia brand is an extension of the popular HGTV Fixer Upper stars, Chip and Joanna Gaines’ work and their Magnolia businesses. When the quarterly lifestyle magazine, the Magnolia Journal
, was launched in late 2016, it marked the first print venture of the Magnolia brand. As described by Meredith Corporation, the publisher, “Print is the perfect vehicle for bringing to life that signature Magnolia aesthetic that fans can’t get enough of.” Fans have had access to that brand through the Fixer Upper series as well as at the Magnolia Market store and website. There’s also Magnolia House vacation rental and Magnolia Homes, which includes real estate and construction, with interior design tying it all together. The telegenic married couple, Chip and Joanna Gaines, are at the center of this empire. They are featured on the fall debut issue of the magazine, which covered the theme of hospitality, appropriate for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
The spring 2017 issue highlights simplicity. In the Letter from the Editor, Joanna notes, “With each issue of the Magnolia Journal
we choose a theme or a virtue that we want to dive deep into and look at from various angles.” Spring is a time of renewal and the issue does this in connection with lifestyle, design, practical advice and recipes. A feature article is about spring cleaning and “why you might just love this ritual” with quick and easy tips on how to steam clean a microwave, or why it is better to clean windows on a cloudy day. “If it’s sunny, the cleaning solution dries too fast and leaves streaks.” Another part of keeping things simple is the capsule wardrobe. Everyone is familiar with having a full closet, but nothing to wear. The author of the article, Caroline Rector, was invited to demonstrate how to create a “smaller wardrobe made up of only clothes that you absolutely love” with Joanna’s closet. The result was 21 simple, basic items with photos and a list of the clothing from the whittled wardrobe along with notes for the reason these items were kept.
The other side of decluttering and clearing out things is appreciating and making the most of what you have in the design section of the magazine. Colorful photo layouts show how to use antique books to “add character, color, and texture” to a room or collecting and using cake stands as display pedestals to highlight plants, mementos, or cake. You can appreciate the many different styles of cake stands in the photo spread and all of them are owned by Joanna. Larger decorating projects describe ways of using subway tile and the easy-care and budget-friendly aspects of this tile. Illustrations show how to install the standard 3 x 6-inch tiles in a variety of patterns: such as horizontal running bond, diagonal offset, or traditional herringbone, to name a few. Another way to enhance the patterns using plain white tile--color grout!
What makes Magnolia Journal
special is articles celebrating the issue’s theme of simplicity from Chip and Joanna’s personal perspective. There is Chip’s Corner, a column where he writes about the value of working on a farm starting at four in the morning: ”Really, it’s simple. It’s easier, calmer, and obviously quieter to work with animals at that hour of the morning.” The animals were easier to handle at that hour and the early hours more comfortable than later in the day when the temperatures heat up. In A Note From Jo, Joanna asks, “Isn’t living with simplicity supposed to be . . . simple? Hardly. Few things in my life require more intentionality than living an edited life. . . . But when I do choose simplicity and keep choosing it in whatever ways matter to me, I am different. I have room to breathe. I have space to see clearly.”
There are tie-ins to the Magnolia Market blog. Gardening encouragement and advice is accompanied with botanical prints. The prints are downloadable from the website along with DIY instructions on how to make a wall hanging. Another connection to Magnolia Market is the lemon pie recipe--When Life Gives you Lemons originally appeared on the blog. Fun articles, activities and seasonal recipes make this quarterly a thoughtful addition to public library collections.
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