Design Phenomenon Studio McGee and Fixer Upper

Have you wondered how the Americana Design families have created a phenomenon of Interior Design?  Is it unique or was it properly placed in the trajectories of Studio McGee and Fixer Upper.  If you swing in Waco and attend the home decor amusement park known as magnolia home you will learn a lot about their audience. You will also see that they choose to make each person feel special and like they are having a unique experience in all that they do.  It’s not a furniture store with lots of things… it’s a few things curated and placed as a one of a kind and quickly replaced once removed for purchase.

Understanding lifestyle brands and how they sell design as the tool to life’s happiness and worth.

The basics of marketing can be seen in the trajectory and path of what they accomplished. Studio McGee and Fixer Upper had similar audiences and they knew how to market to them. These two client bases and personality perspectives overlapped and they have timelines that ran parallel in certain ways. I love thinking about how businesses play into each other. I looked at some things and just like design I found the common threads of what makes these business work.


There are more than a few things similar among the two families.  But they both sell us on their happy marriage, relationship, cute kids and beautiful homes.- this is a glimpse into their lifestyle brand.

The Magnolia Home team wanted to restore and save these (reasonably priced) older homes.   It was an opportunity to rescue homes that were going to be destroyed. It started in 2013-2014 showing up in our homes on HGTV.  They were sweaty,  laughing, smiling and dressed in T-shirts with sayings on it.. There were big smiles and quirky jokes. Both the husband and the wife began feeling like friends and they also became a commonality amongst the families that could watch the home decor shows together. we sit and watch shows that are commercials for them over and over.

Have you heard of drafting?  Not the one where there is trace paper or planning a kitchen. 

A group of bicyclist are riding together are called a Peloton.   The lead cyclist is working the hardest and pulling. “What does pulling mean in road cycling? It means riding at the front of a pack of riders. Since drafting behind other riders requires less power output, those that pull are making it easier for those behind them to ride at a given pace. It is the same as drafting is race car driving.” The people behind can benefit from the “drafting” or slip streaming.  The other cyclist in position 5-8 get the best benefit and can move into the lead of the Peloton because the 1st person does most of the work.

Studio McGee‘s aesthetic is aspirational and is applicable to the masses.

Approachable-  They keep design simple. They avoid trends and create homes that look like they could belong anywhere in the USA.  They have a proven track record and can deter their clients from pulling away from their aesthetic because their aesthetics is familiar and proven.

In Interviews you will hear that the McGee business was intend to create beautiful and large aspirational style homes while making it applicable and attainable for anyone to create in their own home.  You can see this happening in their video series and with the website being resource for the selections you can do it yourself on their website. It is easy to grab a set of barstools, a rug and a few accessories to finish out your home because they all already go together and they have the professional photos to prove it.

Approachability- are they safe?- why is this important?

Design has a snobability factor. It’s for the rich and it’s a luxury tool. 

“Photographer captured the spirit of our family”-Shea McGee

There are no real avenues that allowed for a designer to be accessible.  Mcgee and Co 

They filled a gap used their social media platform to answer the questions to build their audience.  At a time designers were not willing to answer the questions and created an introductory design experience.

Commonality Design Aesthetics:

  • Metal
  • Neutrals
  • Leather 
  • Plants
  • Wood tones
  • White paint
  • Natural stones
  • Pottery

Common Items Missing:

  • Art
  • Personalization
  • Pop of Color
  • Clutter
  • Mass produced looking items
  • Plastics (except of the fake plants)

Timeline:   What did America want? What did America need?

  • Instagram started in 2010
  • Shea McGee started renovating her own house 2010
  • 2014 – they began working on their product line/ move to Utah
  • Fixerr upper started in 2013-2014 there were episodes and the production was new it/ was new
  • Marie Kondo’s book came out in 2015 and was a big hit
  • 2013-14
  • 2014-2015
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017-2018
  • 2018 Fixer upper left HGTV with a plan 
  • HGTV looked to fill the void
  • Netflix 
  • 2019- Mari Kondo
  • 2020-the home edit
  • 2020- Mcgee and Co

So when I asked about drafting in Cycling. 

There are so many opportunities out there where people were looking for a replacement for the fixer upper void that was made in the year of 2018. A company already existed that was marketing savvy and more interested in having a scalable and product based design business.  Once the Void happened there were multiple influencers that were being scouted for the spot on HGTV that was left open.

We all know which ones that showed up.  We saw them. Some were set up for failure and others were a success but none filled the void.  Studio McGee was one of the auditioners and they wanted them to act like the Magnolia home Duo and it and it did not go over well.  

But somewhere in the pack of people cycling that have been keeping up with the leader of the pack a hard working team with a bigger goal in their sights.  They chose to be genuine and they stayed true to themselves.  They were peddling just as fast for the same audience, they were moving ahead and when the leader left the peloton. Just like they answered design questions when no-one else wanted to. There was a void and just as they were answering the questions on social media.  The team back in the peloton was able to move out front.

The started making their own videos testing the market and learning the ropes on what they wanted and could do for TV as YouTubes.  And chose to do what was genuine for them.

  • “How can they trust me as a designer if I could not share my own home?”
  • “Shop Exclusively sell pillows”
  • “Curated and Cohesive”
  • Proven Designs
  • Pictures of smiling families in Beautiful spaces.

Lifestyle brands and Interior Design 

It’s more than selling a pretty space.  They sell people a fresh start.  Homes that are rehabbed or large new spaces that will accommodate their families.  Places to start and make memories. Places to bake, sit at a fireplace, and have friends over.  How would this not appeal to the average person at home.  They don’t stare at the dog prints on the white linen sofa. They don’t pick up the toys, wrangle the magazine collection or display the three TV remotes.  But someway.. somehow.. we can all see ourselves in their spaces and want our homes to look like that too.


Understanding Lifestyle brands with Fixer upper and Studio McGee

What do fixer Upper and Studio McGee have in common?

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