Q&A: Liz Marie Galvan on how to have a cozy home

Oct 10, 2019

Designer Liz Marie Galvan lives in an 1800s farmhouse in Michigan and knows what cozy means. Galvan, a blogger and co-owner of vintage home decor source thefoundcottage.com has written a new book "Cozy White Cottage: 100 Ways to Love the Feeling of Being at Home." She's got ideas and fresh inspiration on how to make your home a sanctuary.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. She and weekly guests, whether Martha Stewart, Marie Kondo, the Property Brothers or Amy Astley, editor-in-chief of Architectural Digest, answer your decorating, design and decluttering questions. Jura is always happy to whip out her paint chips, track down a hard-to-find piece of furniture or offer her seasoned advice on practical living and organizing. For more than 20 years, our Thursday Q&A has been an online conversation about the best way to make your home comfortable, stylish and fun. We invite you to submit questions and share your own great tips, ideas and gripes. No problem is too big or too small.

Blogger Liz Marie Galvan has thought of ways to bring comfort and warmth to every room in the house. In her new book "Cozy White Cottage: 100 Ways to Love the Feeling of Being Home" she has tips to make your home welcoming.

I am really excited & honored to be here today answering some of your questions. If you don't know me, I am Liz Marie from LizMarieBlog.Com & author of Cozy White Cottage - 100 ways to love the feeling of being home. I am a cozy enthusiast who strives to make our 1800's farmhouse a cozy place for me and my family & I shared daily on the blog and social media about ways you can make your home cozy as well. Thank you for joining me here today & I hope you enjoy this chat! 

 

Liz Marie

Hi Liz! I was wondering how do I make my coffee table feel more cozy because it is just bare and I want the whole room to feel cozy but I don’t know what to add to the coffee table in order to do that! Thank you for your help!

Hi!! I totally understand the longing to make your coffee table cozy. This is something that I strive for as well. My first answer: Make it useful! Often we think we need more decor on the coffee table, but that can make us & our guests feel a little too stiff. Leave enough room open on the table to make it useful for the purpose of the room whether that's coffee cups or room for your kids to color while watching movies together. From there let's make it cozy: I love having books out on the coffee table of things I'm passionate about in the moment not only do the books beckon me to come sit and read them, but it makes a great conversation piece when you have guests over. A large candle or candle sticks are always a great cozy touch. I tend to gravitate towards a large candle that even makes the room smell good when it is not lit. Lastly I ALWAYS add a natural element to the table. I usually opt for a large house plant in an interesting pot that is low lying so it doesn't block your view of your guests, tv, or focal point in the room. You can opt for a faux plant, but a house plant adds that fresh cozy element. A great example of a good coffee table plant that doesn't require much light & is easy to care for is a pathos. I hope this helps & inspires you! 

My house is a 1940s Cape with small rooms, well suited to a cozy aesthetic, but I do not like the cottagey, shabby chic, rustic, farmhouse looks. How do I do cozy with a more (neo-)classical vibe?

Your house sounds so cozy already! I love a good Cape. I totally understand also not being drawn to the farmhouse vibe. A clean and modern style in a room can be so cozy with a few simple steps: 

- Cozy textures & patterns in pillows, throw blankets, furniture pieces, rugs. These can all be customized to your style and it's the simplest way to make any space cozy.

-Wall paper or a wall texture can instantly make a room feel cozy & can be customized to any style of home. From bead board to textured wall paper or patterned wall paper, it is a simple way to give a space a complete cozy makeover. 

-Add a plant- it's so amazing what a plant can do to a space. House plants like pathos, English ivy, aloe, spider plant, & so many more. Putting the plant in a beautiful pot can also add to the cozy factory. A vintage inspired planter or beautiful pottery with plants is so cozy for any style. 

- Furniture can speak for itself when it comes to being cozy. Think of tufted furniture or slipcovers with interesting pleats. It's not always pillows and throws, it can be the furniture itself. A leather Chesterfield is a warm and inviting statement in a room or a velvet tufted chair can be a cozy pop as well. 

- Art is key! I have found that even adding a single piece of art to a wall can instantly transform a room. I highly recommend scouring antique shops, flea markets, or online for pieces of antique art and ornate frames to add to over a mantel, on a wall over a console table, or hanging above a bed in a bedroom. 

 

I could go on, but I hope this inspired a little bit!

Where do you go to get inspiration when you aren't sure how to decorate a space?

I LOVE hard copies of things like magazines, books, catalogs, and something I can actually hold in my hand so I can flip through the pages at ease with a cup of coffee. 

What are your tips for small spaces/houses so that they are cozy rather than cluttered?

Think bigger in scale! Often times we clutter our spaces with a lot of little things. Think of everything on a larger scale even though we have small spaces we don't need a lot of little things. Replace three small pieces with one large item. Instead of having a lot of little items on shelves and tables, think a larger item. Hope this helps!! 

I already had to replace a couple. What’s your tip?

Wash them and check on them daily. Some tips that I have learned over the years are poly them with a slight clear coat to protect them just a little bit longer from the elements. When you wash them, throwing, use a little bit of bleach will keep the bacteria off of them and keep them to last a little longer! If you notice any softness on the pumpkin, remove and restyle the display. If you let the pumpkins get too weak it can be a challenge to get it out of the display without creating a mess. 

Love your photos on your blog for a cozy fall mantel. Can you pass along some inexpensive ideas.

Thank you SO MUCH!! My FAVORITE thing to use in my decor is free.... branches from our yard! Sticks, seasonal leaves, & items from our yard like acorns make such great seasonal decor & it's free! 

Do you have some ideas to cozy up a white kitchen? I have white cabinets with dark wood floors.

Your kitchen sounds beautiful! My favorite ways to cozy up a kitchen is adding a runner by the sink & other linens like hand towels, aprons, & useful items like that displayed in the open. Baskets & bowls that are also useful for storing fruit or greens. & of course adding a house plant on a counter or island is always a good idea! 

If you have a home that is very modern and pared down, what are ways to add a cozy feel without buying a lot of cluttering accessories?

The definition of cozy is so different for all of us & your question just proved that fact & I love it! I love how different we all are & that's what I tried to hit on a lot in my book. One of my key points I hit on in the book was to start with a blank slate when decorating a room. After you have a blank slate using the "reduce, reuse, & recycle" Think of ways to re-use items you already have in your home, get rid of anything that you don't love or don't find useful, & sell or donate everything else. When we only add back to the room what we love and enjoy our space will instantly be cozy. Think textures, scale, & elements that you enjoy. A large rug, comfortable furniture, and elements like pillows throws & candles. Hope this helps! 

How can you make your bedroom a calm place? In a small apartment, you have to keep some tech stuff in there and there isn't a lot of storage.

This is a great question! One thing I always like doing in all spaces that have TV’s or other technologies is finding ways to not make them the focal point of the space. An example of this is I will place a light weight piece of art or antique sign to hide my television. When I get into a space, I think cozy first and am pulled to sit and relax with a book rather than kick on the tv. Doing things like this to make you see the room and coziness first, rather than focused on the technology. I also try to make sure that technology isn’t the first thing I reach for in the morning or the last thing I reach for at night, try to focus on things more relaxing like my skin care routine or reading a book! Also don’t be afraid to turn it on airplane mode if you feel too tempted by that ‘ding’ of your phone, its a great way to start developing a new habit. 

Any ideas for cozy paint and accent colors for a large bedroom with lots of natural light? I'm over gray for everything and we tried a light blue which made the whole room look like Superman's Fortress of Solitude - I always felt cold in there no matter the actual temperature. There is no need to match existing rugs, blankets, etc. as I'm ready to change everything. Thanks!!

Haha! I love your description of your room. Too funny! Yes, try choosing a paint color with warm undertones. I love choosing grieges, which is beige and gray mixed that can be a whole lot warmer than just a gray & a whole lot more interesting than a beige. But a white with a warm undertone can be SO COZY so don't discount that either. SW agreeable gray is a great place to start, but I recommend looking up griege paint colors on Pinterest. A warm white is a great thing to look up as well! 

I have a townhouse with high ceilings (9 feet). When I lived in an apartment with low ceilings, it was easy to make my living room cozy, but I feel like it's harder now that I have these high ceilings and the living room is quite large and lofty for a townhouse. What can I do to make a large lofty room feel more like a cozy cottage, which is the style I like to go for?

The goal is to bring down ceiling with design. This can be achieve with larger light fixtures that cut down the space above. Also taller furniture like hutches or cabinets will mend the upper space and the lower sitting areas. Gallery walls are great ways to display family photos or collections you have, they can also be used as an art with variable scale. A thought out space can bring together the upper areas with the lower sitting room asl well. And lastly, the biggest key to making your home cozy is a cozy paint color. For smaller spaces with a lot of wall, I always recommend white or creams… for large spaces you may need to go a little darker to close in the room a bit and make it feel a little bit more cozy. 

Hello! My bedroom is on the first floor with only a small north-facing window that faces and alley. It's unfortunately kind of blocked by a tree. I have one source of light that's an edison bulb mounted high above my door and my walls are an eggshell color. I'm working on getting more lamps and thinking about repainting the walls but need some ideas. I have also only kept my decor to light wood, white metal and I have a white bedspread, but I would love to add some color and more interest but am scared it'll make the room feel cluttered and small. Do you have any recommendations for making my space feel cozy, light and bright?

Your room sounds so cozy!! I have two parts to this answer. One part is that a dark painted wall with a light and fluffy bed can be SO COZY! Don't discount a darker bedroom & assume it will feel cluttered. Another thing is light bulbs are KEY! Warm bright lightbulbs can offer a cozy glow that we crave. Also, a fun way to add a cozy glow are twinkle lights around the room, bedside lamps, a plug in overhead chandelier, wall sconces, & more! 

Did you always have the means to incorporate whatever decor you wanted into your home? What are the hardcore basics when transforming your home into a cozy farmhouse style on a tight budget?

No, we got married very young… and we were the stereotypical young couple — so we did not have the means to all the things. Paint is always a great start to cozying up any space. It can open or close up a space, and is the canvas for cozy. The way you can get cozy on a budget is frequent the flea markets and shops, looking for a great find on sale. When I was first starting, I would pick up furniture, and update it to sell for a small-small profit and take that money for the next item, and work my way to those pieces that I really wanted. This is a fun adventure you will never forget and you learn a lot about furniture and styles this way too!

Hi Liz! Which room in your home is your favorite to restyle and decorate?

Can I answer "all of them!" haha but really redecorating & restyling is therapy to me. If I had to pick one I would say the kitchen because I love making it more useful and beautiful daily. 

What are some quick easy tips that help you prepare your home for guests that are coming over last minute? And making sure they feel the cozy vibes when entering your home? Thx!

Light candles, clean surfaces, clean a space for you to sit, and don’t apologize to anyone about your home! 

What is one way you recommend for easily making a bedroom cozy?

I love this question, I think the easiest way to make your bedroom cozy is with your bedding and pillows! Load your bed up with double stuffed pillows on your bed & I always double stuff my duvet covers so they are extra fluffy. So basically my easy way to make a bedroom cozy is to double stuff everything!

What is your favorite white paint color? I want to paint my home white and love the look of your home but I don't know what white color to go with, there are so many options! Thank you so much Liz

Great question! I am so passionate about white paint & love so many of them! My go-to white paint colors are white dove by Benjamin Moore, pure white by Sherwin Williams, and James white by farrow and ball. I hope this helps! 

Hello Liz, do you have a favorite resource for buying good-quality, inexpensive blankets and throws? I don't understand why throw pillows are so expensive I'm having a hard time finding ones that are less than $30.

I totally get it!! Want to know the biggest secret to making any pillow look expensive? OVER STUFFING! You can make a $6 pillow cover look like a million bucks just by buying a pillow insert that is one size too big for the pillow. A down filled pillow insert is the key as well & you can find super affordable ones on amazon. 

with an eat in kitchen, very sweet and cozy and perfect for our everyday life with a kitchen table, room for 6 friendly adults. We live in a place people love to visit and we love to have them, but all the meals we serve our guests are served in the same place we cook them... any tips for making a meal feel special without a dining room table?

Don’t count out the company… I say for small spaces like this, leave the food on the stove and in the kitchen. Have everyone grab the food and head to that cozy living space you already have styled! Make memories there! If you don't want to leave... set your space that you have like you would a table. Linens, candles, & something sweet that makes everyone feel welcome and cozy. 

Years ago when I was a child, I remember women like my mother going all in for spring cleaning. They'd have all the windows open, airing out quilts, bedspreads, sometimes even mattresses! Does this still go on anywhere? My house is not nearly as dusty as the house I grew up in -- I credit better insulation and windows for that. But what about all of the other household chores like woodwork, walls, and floors, etc.?

Personally I will always love a good spring cleaning day & will follow this tradition that I learned from my mom. I also love starting every new season with a day like this for a fresh start! 

Thanks Liz for doing the chat on cozy style, Next week we will have Susan Sully talking about Southern Style. See you then.

Thank you so much for joining me here today & for submitting questions. I had so much fun answering them & I hope they left you a little more inspired to make your spaces cozy. You can find me on LizMarieBlog.Com for daily cozy posts & my book, Cozy White Cottage, on amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, & more. Thank you again! 

In This Chat
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily Twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering and organizing.

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