This Hudsonville native’s ticket to fame: Getting Cozy

Inquire about interior designer Liz Marie Galvan’s favorite color, and she’ll likely give a super-specific answer about paint. 

White Dove by Benjamin Moore, Pure White by Sherwin-Williams, and James White by Farrow & Ball are hands down the best, she’ll say.

One look at anything on this list reveals that Galvan loves neutral colors. And white — especially if it appears muted with age — reigns supreme.

Of course, none of her 600,000-plus social media followers on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook — or the thousands of viewers who have watched her half-dozen appearances on NBC’s “Today Show” — would have to ask that question. Nor would readers of lizmarieblog.com, Galvan’s 2019 best-selling book, “Cozy White Cottage: 100 Ways to Love the Feeling of Being Home,” or its sequel, “Cozy White Cottage Seasons,” which debuted over Thanksgiving 2021. 

Galvan’s favorite ways to accent her Cozy White Cottage style include: 
  • Richly textured branches, greenery, and flowers from White Cottage Farm, the 8-acre farmstead that she and her husband, Jose, are restoring. Vegetation is used to contribute small bursts of subdued color.
  • Intriguing yet functional antiques — or new pieces made to look old.

“Coziness is individual and is defined by different people in different ways,” says Galvan, 33, a self-avowed homebody. “For me, cozy is when I’m in a space where all five of my senses are at peace.”

Her Cozy White Cottage designs are showcased at The Found Cottage: Gathered Goods, Vintage & New, a home decorating store at 2460 Chicago Drive in Hudsonville. Galvan opened the store with friends Lisa and Abby six years ago, and its mail-order business grew exponentially during the pandemic.

After 14 years of marriage, the Galvans say Cozy White Cottage isn’t just their design style, it’s their lifestyle.

Sound familiar?

No one could blame you if the Galvans’ story reminds you of Chip and Joanna Gaines, the Texas couple whose home-goods store, Magnolia Market in Waco, led to HGTV’s hit show “Fixer Upper” and its spinoff, “Fixer Upper, Behind the Design.”
 
The Gaineses ended the show in 2018. Still, their popular Magnolia brand lives on in a restaurant, a coffee shop, the “Magnolia Journal” magazine, and — beginning this year — a cable TV network that includes a “Fixer Upper” reboot called “Welcome Home” and other design-themed original programming.

Yes. There are similarities between the Galvans and the Gaineses. Vivacious Liz Galvan, like Joanna Gaines, exudes passion for all things design. Jose Galvan, like Chip Gaines, has the know-how and energy to execute his wife’s vision.

“My husband is the backbone of every project I take on,” Galvan says. “Jose is also an excellent photographer and takes a lot of our photos. When I’m doing a live TV segment, it’s him holding the camera.”

Similarities between the Galvans and the Gaineses are sheer coincidence. The Galvans’ Cozy White Cottage style doesn’t compete with the Magnolia brand. Their store, books, and national television and podcast appearances all grew organically out of the blog Liz Galvan started writing in 2009, when the couple was living in tiny Havelock, North Carolina.

Back then, Jose Galvan was an aviation electrician serving at the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point and Liz Galvan was studying interior design at a college nearby. Initially, the blog was her way to connect with others who share her varied artistic interests, such as repurposing found objects and painting vintage furniture.
“Instead of watching cartoons as a kid, I would watch interior design shows,” says Galvan, a 2006 graduate of Unity Christian High School in Hudsonville. “(Interior designer) Christopher Lowell was my hero. His shows (“Interior Motives” and “The Christopher Lowell Show”) came on midday, and I always tried to be in front of the TV then.”

Jose Galvan, who enlisted in the Marines right after graduating from Jenison High School in 2005, intended to make the military his career. But he changed his mind several years later when his father died. That loss, added to the fact that the young couple had suffered several miscarriages, caused them to value family beyond career goals. 

Liz Marie, Jose, and Copeland Galvan
The Galvans returned to West Michigan in 2014, after Jose Galvan arranged for discharge from the Marines and began biomedical studies at Calvin College. When that didn’t seem like a perfect fit, he began managing the Farmers Insurance print center in Caledonia.

For a while, Liz Galvan worked as a decorating consultant. However, striving to achieve a client’s vision sometimes left her feeling anxious and unsatisfied. She says she’s more comfortable finding objects she loves at antique shops or estate sales, combining them in ways she finds aesthetically pleasing, sharing them in The Found Cottage and through media, and hopefully inspiring others to discover their own style.

White Cottage Farm

After 14 years of marriage, the Galvans say Cozy White Cottage isn’t just their design style, it’s their lifestyle.

They purchased a 4,200-square-foot farmhouse in Caledonia about six years ago that was built in the 1830s. They’ve been working — one room at a time — to restore it to its original splendor ever since. 

The Galvans started by ripping out wall-to-wall carpeting, putting down pine floors, and painting them with white porch paint. The most delightful Saturday afternoons, Galvan says, are spent visiting antique stores in search of unique pieces that could become the focal point of a room’s eclectic decor.

This year, they plan to tackle some upstairs rooms and subdivide the garage into an office, a recreation room, and some retail space.

On his blog, thewhitecottagefarm.com, Jose Galvan details many of the projects in a step-by-step fashion, with graphics, that do-it-yourselfers love. 

The Centennial Farm, constructed and owned by the Barnaby family until the Galvans bought it, also includes a barn that has stood since 1870. 

The hobby farm is home to 17 sheep, two alpacas, several goats, some barn cats, and three dogs, including a majestic Great Pyrenees, Winnie, whose magnificent white coat graces many photos in the books and on the blog. The Galvans also keep bees for pollinating their huge garden.

Giving book-writing a go

Representatives of the Christian publishing house Thomas Nelson contacted Liz Galvan after spotting photos of White Cottage Farm projects on her Pinterest page. Liz Marie Galvan has 600,000-plus social media followers who love her Cozy White Cottage style.They also liked the casual, friend-to-friend writing style evident in her blog, which includes standing features like Tuesday Treasures, Friday Finds, and Splurge or Save. 

When the publisher asked Galvan if she had ever considered writing a book, she says her answer was an emphatic “absolutely not!”

But she had a feeling that she should extend herself and give it a go. 

Four years later, she’s written two design books and has ideas for a third.

Social media and legacy media have propelled her ideas further than she imagined possible, Galvan says.

Many neighbors and acquaintances probably have no notion of how influential the Galvans have become in the world of home décor. 

“We’ve developed a big following in Australia and The Netherlands,” Galvan says. “I think people in West Michigan might be surprised by that. A lot of people here aren’t aware that we do this.”

Advertising and affiliate relationships on the blogs, together with income from the books and The Found Cottage, have provided sufficient income in the past four years, so the Galvans don’t need to hold down jobs outside their growing Cozy White Cottage brand.

They love doing budget-friendly home projects together. Whenever possible, they also include their adorable adopted son, Copeland Beau, who just turned 3.

The couple has also published a children’s picture book, “We Belong to Each Other,” about the power of love to bind families that don’t share a gene pool.

“It may seem shallow or unimportant to some to focus attention on decorating our homes, but now, more than ever, people get it,” Galvan says, referring to the exponential increase in time spent at home when COVID-19 pandemic restrictions were imposed. “We all benefit from an environment that nourishes us and our relationships and helps us make wonderful memories.”