Anyone familiar with HGTV’s Fixer Upper knows all about Waco, thanks to a couple of locals who put the small Texas town on the National stage: Chip and Joanna Gaines. The renovation and interior design power couple are known for “taking the worst house in the best neighborhoods and turning them into their client’s dream homes.” Together they’ve built a unique brand that brings together farmhouse chic and vintage vibes to create a design style that is all their own. It’s all about subway tiles, apron sinks, and of course lots and lots of shiplap!
For fans of their style and the show itself, Magnolia Market & Silo’s is mecca, and a pilgrimage there is on the bucket list of many interior design aficionados. We took the opportunity to visit Magnolia while in Texas. We wanted to bring you a detailed review of what Magnolia Market & Silos is like and what it has to offer visitors to Waco!
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Before diving into the Market today, let’s look at how the Gaines got to where they are and helped put a struggling town back on the map as a destination all its own.
The Magnolia brand started from quite humble roots. Joanna’s first shop was actually a small stall in the Spice Market, a Waco marketplace where hundreds of vendors rented out booths to sell their wares. Her home decor products quickly gained popularity there, and the Gaines found that they needed a larger space to meet the demand for their products.
In 2003, the Gaines purchased and opened the “Little Shop on Bosque” – the first stand-alone store for the Magnolia Brand. It was a successful venture that raised their profile as masters of interior design, with a unique brand that focused on farmhouse chic and mixing old and new to create a unique aesthetic and style that appealed to the masses.
It was the success of this store and the Gaines’ unique style that helped capture the attention of HGTV when the Gaines’ brought their idea to the network. Fixer Upper was born in 2013, which showed the Gaines’ purchasing and renovating old homes around Waco in Joanna’s signature style. Not only did the show bring the couple and their brand worldwide acclaim and legions of fans, but it put the small town of Waco, Texas, on the map.
However, Waco wasn’t ready for the onslaught of eager tourists and home design enthusiasts flocking to their small city, and the Gaines’ had an idea.
In the middle of Waco, stood two 120-foot abandoned silos. Originally part of the Brazos Valley Cotton Oil Mill closed down in 1958, the silos stood uninhabited since the 1990s. While a historical marker for the city, the abandoned silos were only popular with rebellious teenagers, daring each other to climb them in the middle of the night.
Later in 2013, as their show was taking off, the Gaines purchased the Silos and the two-block area around them. They saw them as an opportunity to give Waco the destination that tourists wanted, while also improving the city’s economics and revitalizing their beloved community.
The Silos eventually became the symbol of the Magnolia brand, but before that, they needed huge renovation and, of course, the trademark Gaines touch. Finally, in 2015, the Magnolia Market & Silos opened their gates to the legions of fans and visitors from all over the world. They not only transformed the Waco landmark but helped transform a city into a destination for interior design aficionados.
Today, more than 30,000 people visit Magnolia Market and Silos every week. People travel from all over the world to see the Silos.
And it’s not over for the Gaines, either. Though they stopped filming Fixer Upper in 2018, they’re not done with Waco by a long shot. In fact, one of the reasons they decided to end their contract with HGTV was so they could concentrate on breathing life into the city they call home.
The Gaines’ have plans for expanding the newly dubbed “Silo District,” including a wiffleball field, more shops, and gardens, as well as relocating a historic church, built in 1894 to the property, renovated for holding seminars and workshops. We can expect meticulously detailed and purposefully designed brick walkways, landscaping, and more lighting for both aesthetic and safety purposes.
With all this, there is one thing that we can be absolutely sure about regarding the future of the Gaines’ Magnolia brand: they’re not even close to finished.
My First Impression
Entering the Silo District in Waco, you’re immediately faced with the towering Silos, that will look familiar to everyone who watched the show. The two steel, rusted grain structures tower over the corner of the road, and it’s actually a little difficult to pay attention to anything else – like parking!
We did venture out here on a Saturday, which is the busiest day for the Market, and traffic to find parking was a little crazy. Plus, there’s massive construction going on around the block. Not surprising since they’re working on a $10.5 million improvement project to add to what already exists in the district!
There was definitely a crowd forming, and lines were waiting to get into the Market. I was a bit overwhelmed by the crowd and probably should have realized that the weekend probably isn’t the most zen time to visit.
As we walked up to the gate, the first thing I noticed was the front pavement was a checkerboard of alternating concrete and grass squares! It was a really fresh look, and reminded me of Alice in Wonderland!
There are massive wrought-iron fencing and gates around the entire complex, which complimented the older, vintage buildings nicely. Everything was immaculate! We entered pretty close to opening time, and employees were raking the mulch, making sure that the rake lines were visible and parallel. Seriously, the attention to detail is amazing!
As we ascended the stairs into the Market, we were greeted by extremely friendly employees, welcoming us to Magnolia and offering baskets. But my first impression of the store was that it was definitely designed by Joanna! From the displays to the flowers, the styling was so on brand! Obviously, I shouldn’t have expected anything less.
The Market is separated into two rooms – the first being the main store, which focuses on a variety of home decor items. Ceramic duck place card holders for your dining room table, milk bottle vases for a simple wildflower centerpiece, tea towels, and trivets.
My absolute favorite part of the store, however, was the displays. In the kitchen section, it was set up to resemble Joanna’s typical farmhouse style that you’d recognize from the show. We’re talking lots of shiplap, clean, white subway tiles, and of course, the farmhouse, apron sink. The items for sale were displayed like they were part of the whole aesthetic, so you could visualize exactly how a specific item would fit into that farmhouse style! Display tables were set up like kitchen islands, so you really felt like you were walking through one of the Magnolia designed homes, too!
Moving to the lower level of the Market, you enter a different part of the warehouse. This area is a bit more opened up and is more focused on Magnolia branded items. They had t-shirts and bags, pens, notebooks, and coffee mugs, so visitors could take home a little something to remind them of their pilgrimage, and represent the Magnolia brand in their own lives.
Down here, there were some decor items that I found really interesting. They had a variety of metal signs that had been punched to reveal inspirational quotes. These were explicitly handmade for the Magnolia Market by a local artisan. I really appreciated the fact that Chip and Joanna actively support local designers using their platform, and their store is no different.
My favorite section, however, was the area dedicated to Chip’s approved products! With large vintage metal letters spelling out “DEMO DAY” high above his little corner. From hats to mugs, keychains to leatherbound notebooks, most with unique, “Chip-isms” embossed on them, it was hard not to smile and take it all in!
One thing that I was disappointed about was there was no furniture for sale or display. Magnolia does have a variety of furniture options available on their website, but you can’t check them out in person — yet. I did hear that there are plans in the future renovation project to create a Magnolia Furniture Showroom. That is definitely something I’d like to see, because as much as I love the furniture on the website, you really need to be able to see, touch, and try out furniture before you buy it.
But, if you’re looking for that special piece of decor to bring your entire room together in that chic farmhouse styling that Joanna is known for, you’ll find the perfect choice at Magnolia Market!
Of course, the Silos are a destination in and of themselves. They really are massive and tower over the entire block! They retain much of their old, vintage charm with the rusting and aging left intact. However, I did notice impressive little details – like greenery planted in the metal shoots coming down from the top. The way that the exterior is designed, combining the rusted, worn structures with the new, natural greenery, actually enhanced the historical, old feel of the buildings. The silos are no longer a place that looks like a haunted, rundown area ripe for rebellious teenage behavior. They now look like the historical markers of a different time. They still command a presence in the area, but as an obvious nod to an earlier time, rather than shrouded in mystery and deterioration.
Unfortunately, you can’t enter the silos themselves. They’re still off-limits. Chip and Joanna have not announced what their plans will be for the silos, but there are a few ideas in the works from what I hear. There is the theory that they’ll become a store for Chip, where he would curate items and products of his own design. I can imagine tape measures and claw hammers emblemized with DEMO DAY, and other dad jokes that he’s famous for.
Whatever happens to the inside of the Silos, it will definitely be a place that I’d come back to see!
In front of the Silos is a stage built, that becomes home to local bands during the warmer months. They didn’t have anyone up there while we were visiting, but I really love the vibe it gives the entire outdoor park area. I enjoyed watching the kids dance on the stage to the music in their heads, which was adorable. Plus, there’s an overhang, and the Magnolia sign is right above it in vintage show letters, which makes a perfect photo opportunity!
Magnolia Seed & Supply
One of my favorite parts of Fixer Upper is when Chip passes the baton to Joanna, who takes over the site they’re working on to add the furniture, decor, and final details. She consistently incorporates natural elements into each design, with meticulous attention to detail – like deliberately place each flower stalk individually into the vintage milk bottles on the dining room table and hanging plants in the corner above a breakfast nook.
These natural elements aren’t really surprising – they’re part of the Magnolia brand. The Gaines’ actually live on a farm with their five kids, where they have goats and cows, and quite the garden. Magnolia Seed & Supply is the part of the Silos District that pays tribute to that aspect of their brand.
Situated in the corner of the property and surrounded by raised flower beds full of growing greenery, meticulously landscaped, you’ll find the Seed and Supply and greenhouse.
In addition to seedlings and plants, you can also purchase garden supplies like watering cans, spades, and trellises – all reflecting the Magnolia signature style. I personally loved the little copper signs for your garden, with the names of the plants on them. I thought they were super cute!
The shop itself is very small. It’s literally a shed, with a single narrow walkway that goes around the exterior of the shed with a display table in the middle. Visiting on a crowded Sunday made this a little uncomfortable to really take it all in, but it’s a cute little shop, and everyone is really friendly!
Silos Baking Company
The most recent addition to the Magnolia property is the Silos Baking Company. Located on the front corner of the property, the building’s renovation was featured on one of the later episodes of Fixer Upper, too. The pretty white building is small and has an outdoor patio with tables and a great sign to take a selfie in front of.
As the line wraps around the building, friendly employees pass out ordering forms to those eagerly waiting for their turn. The idea is to fill these out so that the line moves faster, and people can get through it quicker. I thought it was a great idea!
The available treats are all from Joanna’s own personal recipes. You’ll find a variety of cupcakes with fun names like “Silobration” (Vanilla cupcake with chocolate buttercream and sprinkles) and “The Shiplap” (Vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting), plus interesting flavors like Lemon & Lavender (Lemon and lavender cake with lemon buttercream icing)! They also sell cookies, pastries, and biscuits, and have several gluten-free options as well!
While I eyed a lot of the cupcakes walking by, I didn’t actually get one to try. To be honest, I have a thing about lines, and even if they move quickly, I’ll do anything to avoid them. Fortunately, I didn’t have to totally miss out, thanks to the Food Truck lot and recreation area!
Outdoor Lawn & Food Trucks
At the heart of the Magnolia Silos & Market is the outdoor lawn area: an open space designed to feel like a big backyard, with food trucks and activities for the whole family!
The meticulously manicured outdoor area features benches and picnic tables, raised flower beds, a pergola, and a pavilion. It’s basically a dream backyard perfect for hosting family and friends. And that’s exactly the idea the Gaines had behind this space.
What Chip and Joanna really wanted to bring to the Silos was a sense of community and family. They wanted to create a space where families could come, unplug, and enjoy the sunshine and each other’s company. There are a variety of lawn games, soccer balls, and volleyballs for kids and families to use. They also had a bunch of all-weather beanbag chairs that you could pull out and lay in the sun on!
Another awesome example of Chip and Joanna’s dedication to Waco is the local food trucks that are available. You can find anything from grilled cheese and iced tea to barbecue and hot dogs. We got a huge cup of delicious iced tea from the Alabama Sweet Tea truck that came in a reusable glass mason jar! It was so good!
As I noted, I didn’t get to go into the Silos Bakery Company, but that didn’t stop me from trying one of Joanna’s unique recipes! Magnolia Table is Chip and Joanna’s restaurant in Waco, that’s about a mile from the Silos. There’s ALWAYS a wait, and they don’t take reservations, so I knew that we wouldn’t be able to go. But that’s okay, because low and behold there’s a Magnolia Table Food Truck at the Silos & Market!
I was so excited that I skipped over to the no-line truck (it was early!), and got to order myself some delicious Lemon Lavender Donut Holes. They were delivered to us WARM (yes, freshly made!) with a cool lemon drizzle on top, and dried edible flowers. I can only imagine that Lemon Lavender cupcake tasted like! They were absolutely delicious, and I would highly recommend them if you find yourself at Magnolia!
Really – I loved everything about this Lawn area. I saw people walking and chatting, kids doing cartwheels and running around giggling, parents chatting and joking – everyone just really working on being in the present moment. Sure – the Silos are a great place to take pictures, and there were plenty of opportunities to do that. But what struck me more was the fact that I didn’t see many people on their smartphones. Folks seemed to be more interested in being present and in the moment. And I think that’s what’s really magical about the Silos, and Chip and Joanna’s ability to really create a space that intuitively encourages interpersonal community.
Silos District Trolley
I think what I really respect and admire about Chip and Joanna Gaines is that no matter how big and successful they become, they continue to focus on serving their community first. As you might expect, when the Magnolia Market & Silos opened, Waco wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of attention and tourism it would bring. Chip and Joanna, however, wanted to use their success to bring success to other businesses in Waco. That’s where the Silo District Trolley came into play.
The Silo District Trolley is a free trolley that takes visitors around downtown Waco parking areas through the city to Magnolia Market. While this was a logical solution to the overwhelming demand for parking near the Silos by offering shuttle service from lots on the other side of the city, they also saw this as an amazing opportunity to share the rest of the city with their visitors.
Today the Silos District Trolley takes a circular route through downtown Waco into the Silos District, ferrying visitors all around. It’s set up where you can get off at a variety of other local sites, like the Dr. Pepper Museum, other local stores, and shopping centers, as well as eateries and art galleries. Passengers can get off wherever they want, and simply flag the trolley to get back on it. It makes getting around Waco easier and creates a way for the Gaines’ to share their visitors with a community they love, and their love of their community with their visitors.
All in all, it was a great trip, and I’m so grateful that I had to ability to experience Magnolia in person. The style, the aesthetic, and the mission are so clear in every aspect of their brand that they didn’t just create a company, but they created a movement. And the fact that they focus on sharing that success with their community, to improve the lives of their neighbors is really the beautiful part of the Magnolia story.
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