“Sweet Magnolias” Star JoAnna Garcia Swisher Shares Her Georgia Lake House Packed with Reclaimed Wood and Vintage Touches

published Nov 16, 2022
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Have real estate; will travel. At least, that’s the case for “Sweet Magnolias” actress JoAnna Garcia Swisher, who appears on the cover of Southern Living’s first-ever digital issue, The Dream Homes Issue. Inside, Swisher opens up about making the move down south with her family, and the Lake Oconee, Georgia house they now call home. 

While Swisher had been working in Georgia for a while, she and her husband, former baseball star Nick Swisher, had never moved down there for good. But when they made their first visit to the lake community, which is 85 miles southeast of the state capital, they “immediately fell in love,” said Swisher. Now, they split their time between Georgia and Tampa.

“I’ve been consistently working in Georgia since then, and every time we were here, we’d make sure that we would carve out a little extra time or come early to visit,” said Swisher. 

After renting a house for a month, they determined it was time to take the plunge to full-time lake life. They first saw the house from their boat and loved the easy lake access to the lake, wide back porch, and plenty of space for visitors. 

“Lake houses tend to fill up with friends and family pretty quickly,” Swisher said, who has two young daughters, Emerson and Sailor, as well as four dogs and a cat. 

Swisher’s journey hasn’t been without bumps, however. She lost her father in 2019 and then her mother just 16 months later. But ultimately, Swisher says she believes “happiness is a choice,” she explained. “Even in the darkest moments, [I believe in] searching for that glimmer of light. It’s not always easy, but it’s attainable. It’s the way that I live my life.”

The comfort-chic interior of the home is a mishmash of style and function. A linen sofa is piled high with throw pillows in the living room, where plush rugs run underfoot. Vintage wool rugs “that had years of stories behind them” sit next to reclaimed wood features. There are colorful pillows and pretty lanterns from Clover by Jo, her home decor line with HSN, and sweet family memories, like a collection of salt and pepper shakers her mother started for her.

“I didn’t want to worry about wet feet running in from the outside, sticky fingers, or anything that would be too precious,” she shared. “At the end of the day, this house is meant to be enjoyed. We have a lively home, and I don’t stress too much about keeping it perfect.”

Ultimately, the move down south allowed Swisher to slow down and enjoy the important things in life. 

“The stars are so beautiful here,” she concluded.“I find myself taking longer walks and riding my bike after dinner and enjoying this beautiful place. Things become really meaningful and intentional, even if it’s just taking a nap; we’re not bogging ourselves down with the chaos of life. That’s not to say I’m not really busy, but there’s something about being on the lake. We savor the moments more.”

Check out more from Southern Living’s The Dream Homes Issue.