Winter months in West Michigan beg for cozy sweaters, soft afghans, quilts and warm fires. This season of staying home also lends itself to creating a space that invites you in, settles you with a hot drink, a good book, and welcomes you back after outdoor activities.
Liz Marie Galvan, co-owner of The Found Cottage in Hudsonville (thefoundcottage.com)has made a business out of creating cozy. Her books, Cozy White Cottage: 100 Ways to Love the Feeling of Being at Home and Cozy White Cottage Seasons: 100 Ways to Be Cozy All Year Long, offer advice and tips on everything from home décor to wardrobe choices, cleaning to seasonal decorating ideas.
“There was no way I was going to write a book,” said Galvan, 34, who lives with her husband and son at White Cottage Farm in Caledonia. “The publishing company found me on Pinterest and pursued me, and I now realize how lucky I am. I’m thankful to get my passions out on paper.”
Those passions are on full display at The Found Cottage and at White Cottage Farm, which is pictured in her books and social media. That passion, she said, “came from living away from my family while my husband was deployed.”
Galvan married her United States Marine husband, José, when she was 19, spending the next decade moving for deployments or living on her own while he was away. She longed for cozy spaces during those long weeks and months and began developing the soul of her cozy sensibilities. Upon settling down in West Michigan, she and her aunt, Lisa Van Dyke, and friend, Abby Albers, opened The Found Cottage in late 2016.
The original store, a couple of doors down from the current location on Chicago Drive, started with maybe 2,000 square feet. They moved to the current location in 2018 and expanded into the neighboring space in 2020. The store now occupies around 16,000 square feet that includes about 20 different vendors and an eclectic array of new and vintage finds that range from baby and wedding items, to paper goods, kitchen ware, couches, tables, books, and even taxidermy.
“I love how eclectic our store is. You can’t find this mix of things just anywhere,” said Galvan, who readily admits to shopping in her own store.
Galvan changes her own décor seasonally, always on the lookout for new ways to cozy up her living spaces, storage options and even laundry room. Here is her advice for cozying up your home for this winter season.
1. Do a big clean first. Clean the vents, blinds, curtains, rugs. Do away with the glitter and pine needles left over from Christmas and make room for the gifts by thrifting or sharing things no longer in use.
2. Rearrange, repurpose, or reduce.
“Changing to a new layout, repurposing home décor and rearranging came make you feel like you’re in a new home,” said Galvan. “And what a great time for your home to feel new—when you’re spending more time in it during the winter.”
3. Add life to the base. For Galvan, this means adding life to a room with plants. Real plants can clean the air, but faux can add a visual that signifies life. She likes to mix faux and real plants. “Bring life and nature inside because nothing is more beautiful than nature, and it can be free,” she said. “It can be dramatic and beautiful, when all you did is cut branches and put them in a vase.”
4. Add texture and mix textures. Galvan recommends going beyond just a pillow, adding six or more textures that can range from quilts and afghans to architectural salvage, from wood accents to mirrors, from antiques to modern pieces. “Your
cozy is different from my cozy, but my cozy touches the five senses,” she said. “And you can do this with every decorating style.”
5. Add a cozy glow by bringing the lights off the ceiling. Add table lamps, wall sconces, small lamps in the bathroom, twinkle lights, battery-operated candles and scented candles.
6. Find out what you love and what touches you. Cozy up in a space you love and that brings you joy. “Focus on what you love and will use instead of what is trending on social media,” said Galvan.
7. Live in the space for a while and see how you and your family and friends use it. If you need to tweak a few things, such as furniture placement, do so.
Galvan encourages readers to find their own style before embarking on wholesale changes. Start by saving pictures, either on Pinterest or elsewhere or by cutting them from magazines. “Then dissect those photos and ask yourself what you love about that space, and whether those things and styles could function in your home,” she said.
Next, involve your family in big decisions and take a hard look at how your family uses the space. Do you homeschool? Use a formal dining space for actual dining? Figure out what rules work for your home. Shoes on or off? Backpacks in a jumble or neatly hung up? Television and computer use only in open areas?
“I took out our stove’s hood vent when we redid our kitchen and the Internet lost its mind. People had a rule that you need a hood vent,” she said. “But this showed me that we all have rules that we live by.”
Another step is to get out of the house. Walk around stores and see what you like and figure out why. Walk in nature, looking at all the patterns and colors. “Every pattern and color you like is found in nature,” said Galvan.
Finally, know your budget and stick to it. “Going into debt for home décor isn’t cozy,” she said.