Even if you’ve never dreamed of living in a white-on-white farmhouse in Western Michigan, it’s impossible not to fall in love with Liz Marie Galvan’s cozy little world. The designer and author of Cozy White Cottage: 100 Ways to Love the Feeling of Being Home creates places and images that just feel like home. Her style is a mix of new and old that is at once simple and full of character–it’s a lovely, layered look that appeals to a huge audience. Liz Marie’s fans follow along on Instagram (@lizmariegalvan) as she and her husband Jose renovate their 1800s farmhouse, room by room. As they make the historic home their own, they’re also trying to recreate some of the character that was stripped from the house in earlier renovations. She and Jose share the farm with their son Copeland, who is almost two-years-old, and a host of pets, including three dogs, a few cats, and a sheep named Grace.
In the latest installment of House Rules, Liz shares her tips for how to make the most of your own home:
Re-think your outdoor spaces this winter
The farm’s latest addition, a greenhouse, has proved both a practical and a pretty addition. “It’s a functioning greenhouse: There are always tools and things that we actually use in our garden, but in creating a living space among those things, there’s some magic there,” Liz Marie explains. By setting a beautiful table with candles and fine linens in what is essentially a utility shed, she says that it feels like a different place – a destination, even. And the same idea could also work for a carport, treehouse, or garage. “Especially this year, it’s nice to feel like you’re maybe out to eat because you’re out of your home—even though you’re not.”
Simplicity is the secret to a restful bedroom
“I used to try to really over-complicate things and over-decorate,” says Liz Marie. “But over the years, I learned that simplifying is key.” Instead of tchotchkes on the bedside table, she relies on beautiful bedding, a couple plants, and glam-but-functional lighting to provide the design elements to her sleep space. And makes her bed loosely: “I like to almost keep it open—it’s made, but not too formally or tightly, so it’s almost like an invitation at the end of the day.”
Pet-proof can still be pretty
Liz Marie points out pet- and toddler-friendly features in her home, like white painted floors (“it’s porch paint, it’s meant to hold up to everything”), a patterned blanket draped over the end of the bed to protect the white linens from her Great Pyrenees, and slipcovers everywhere. Most importantly, she advises: “Invest in a really good dog bed with a washable slipcover,” she says. “There’s no regrets with a purchase that makes our pets so happy.”
Create a Christmas look that lasts
Liz Marie says she loves a Christmas look that can last all through winter. “I hope to leave our window candles in the windows all winter. I think that’s so cozy, especially looking in when it’s gonna snow.” She notes that little pine trees and pine cone wreaths can also stay out long past December 25th. “I often think of how the family in the 1800’s would have decorated their home. If they decorated for Christmas, I could imagine it was a simple garland made from things from the farm and some dried fruit that they had.” She also loves simple seasonal touches, like bowls of dried oranges. “I’ve really come to really love things like that, that look very lived-in and not stuffy or super-styled.”
Let it glow!
“I think the last layer of styling is adding light, especially at this time of year. I like to add candles, twinkle lights and things like that,” says Liz Marie, noting that she does this in every area, not just the dining table. “Adding that glow is the finishing touch.”
Think quality, not quantity when it comes to bedding
“You don’t need 10 sets of sheets,” says Liz Marie. Instead, pick out three really good-quality sets. “We spend so much time in bed, so it pays to really invest in good pieces,” she says. For Liz Marie, that means linen bedding. “I love how linen wears over time and how it just gets softer with every wash. For our cozy cottage vibe, linen is always a favorite material,” she adds, “I’m a pretty hot sleeper, so I love the feel of linen. It works in every season, if you add and subtract blankets.”
Her surprising tip for a lush looking bed?
She overstuffs her duvets, pairing king-sized comforters with queen covers, and queen-sized inserts with full-sized duvet covers.
Pick the right white for your home
“I was always a White Dove fan–it’s a lot of people’s go-to—but in this house, it pulls so green and yellow that we just couldn’t do it,” says Liz Marie, who opted for Sherwin Williams ‘Pure White’ for her farmhouse walls. “The way the house is situated with lots of windows and green outside, we wanted more of a true white. It’s more of a cool tone, but in our home, it looks warm,” she says.
A pretty table is more than just eye candy
“I enjoy setting tables,” says Liz Marie. “I feel like that atmosphere can cultivate meaningful conversations, make everyone feel welcome, and add just a little spark of something special.” She’s found that low centerpieces and room to move are key. “I used to do these really ornate centerpieces, but then you can’t fit your plate on the table! I’ve learned that function is cozy: You want to be able to talk to everyone over the table.”
Little traditions have big meaning
“Jose and I have always opened gifts for each other on Christmas Eve, and we like to make orange garlands while watching Christmas movies,” she says of her family’s traditions. But as Copeland gets older, she’s looking forward to adding new traditions to the mix. This year, they’ve been decorating simple wooden ornaments together and next year, they’ll be even more.
For more inspiration, see:
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