I’m writing this in advance, on the Tuesday before it goes live on the Friday and the sun is streaming in at my office window. It may be freezing outside but my little glasshouse is trapping the light energy as heat faster than I can imagine. It makes such a big difference to how I feel, seeing the sun like that.
And, as always when the sun starts shining and March is nearly here, I start thinking of cleaning and decorating again. My main bathroom, this year. Yellow and grey. Yes, I know, but in my mind’s eye it will work. And it probably will.
I’m a colours girl at heart. I know there’s an eternal fascination for white houses and cottages and rooms and seats and everything neutral and lovely and worn and white… but I know ‘worn’ and ‘white’ with me would soon become ‘grey’ and ‘scuffed’. A white house, adorable, fascinating though I find them, is not my style.
Which is why today’s book is a peculiar choice for me because, although I will never have white walls and white furniture, so much of what is recommended in Cozy White Cottage is what I’d like to say and some of the chapters have made me stop, pause and nod in agreement. Not the decor ones, but the lifestyle ones. The book’s subtitle is ‘100 Ways to Love the Feeling of Being Home’,
The book is a good quality hardback, roughly 8 by 10 inches, and with matt pages. It’s lavishly illustrated throughout with photographs of Liz’s Cozy White Cottage of the title. After years of travelling as a services wife, being settled on a farm in Michigan must seem like heaven. But all that re-starting and moving has meant Liz has a strong grasp of what home means to her, and that shines through the book.
The book is divided into 9 sections that take you round the house: each section focuses on one room from Welcome, and the hallway to Rest and the bedrooms. The sections are: Welcome, Dwell, Gather, Nourish, Renew, Create, Grow, Play and Rest. I’m pretty sure there’s something useful for everyone in there, whether you have a marvellous Victorian detatched or a one bedroom flat.
Each section has several numbered chapters, 100 in total as the subheading said, and talsk about interior design, decor or homemaking. The aesthetic is very worn, wood, white but that’s fine. The principles underlying the aesthetic (buy second hand, don’t be afraid to change old furniture to suit you, fill your home with things you love) apply whatever your personal home style. And besides, sometimes it is good to see what a house styled completely different from your own looks like.
Every page has pictures on, making this a great book to leave out and leaf through when words are too much and your soul seeks a smooth sea. Yet the text is well worth reading and cogitating on as well, not just the advice on hanging shiplap or painting legs, but the occasional chapter that is more about life substance than style: the chapter on balancing peace and happiness (79) or finding joy in it all (69) come to mind.
Finding your home’s character takes time, and kitting it out in style, especially like this, with restored or recovered furniture, takes even more time. If you seek to emulate Liz’s style, this isn’t a look to rush out and buy all in one go, one weekend or in one store. It’s a calm, browsing, collecting as and when style that really does allow for you to find pieces that speak to you. Liz doesn’t tell you to change to suit her style, she asks you to identify your own.
If I have a criticism (well, two, actually) it’s that the chapter on the bedroom is quite short. I wonder if this is Liz not wanting to lay everything open and keep some privacy (don’t blame her) or whether the bedroom isn’t as polished and ready as she’s like it to be. My other criticism is that the book doesn’t have any seasonal elements to it, which sort of forces you to buy the next book, Cozy White Cottage Seasons (100 Ways to Be Cozy All Year Long). Fortunately, Easter is fast-approaching and I may be able to review that book as a special Easter present to myself. I’ll let you know.
All in all, I really love this book. Will my house be all pretty white and worn now? No. That doesn’t spark joy for me, but I still appreciate a well-lived in home, and this will be sat out on my coffee table ready for inspiration or to flick through on those days when even a Kindle is too much to concentrate on.
Liz Marie Galvan can be found on Instagram and on her own website, Liz Marie Blog. But perhaps the most fun is that the whole family, house, farm, husband and all, can be found on Youtube. Go, seek her out. And enjoy a glimpse into a cozy white world. And, as usual, I’ll leave you with my own flip through the book. Have a peaceful weekend!
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better. February is a great time to reset routines and rituals, it simmers with unnamed life underground desperate to burst through. The calm before the Spring Storm, as it were. The book has small and easy ways to make your life flow with grace and happiness, which lead to more hygge.
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human. And it’s always the little things.
Planning ahead, early, is How to Hygge Your Summer. It has ideas for taking your hygge with you out of winter and to any place you go in the summer… the beach, the park, your holidays. Hygge is an all-year feeling, so start preparing and let’s hygge the heck out of summer this year!
If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well.
The regular photo I’m currently using between text and my book promotions is a photo by Rinck Content Studio on Unsplash. I love the implied cosiness of the photograph: the two hot chocolate cups, the biscuits and squares of chocolate imply a good bit of chatting going on here. Plus I like the colours: red tartan and real wood. What’s not to like? And the header is my own photo of today’s book in the afternoon sunlight. I love the water’s reflection on the cover, and the fact you can see my worn and well-loved glasses case next to the book! Even now as I finish the writing the sun has sunk too low and that photo could not exist. Look out for those sparkling moments! Take note of them, keep them in your heart!