A farmhouse renovation with Liz Marie Galvan

When it comes to creating a cozy family farmhouse, interior designer Liz Marie Galvan of the White Cottage Farm blog is an expert.
Liz Marie Galvan’s farmhouse viewed from the back where a new addition featuring a primary suite with Andersen windows sunroom faces the swimming pool

The born-and-raised farmgirl has returned to her Michigan roots where she’s restoring an 1840s farmhouse to its former glory one project at a time. Combining her love of French and English country style with an appreciation for functional American design, she’s bringing to life a look that’s cozy, cottagey, and uniquely her own.

Read on to discover more details about her design decisions, how windows and doors are helping to create her aesthetic, and her tips for bringing the farmhouse look to your own home.

Why windows & doors were a key component

Windows were one of the first things that came to mind when Galvan considered what design elements could reflect the look and feel of the original home. And with the home surrounded by an abundant garden, the designer knew she’d want a strong connection to the outdoors.

"When I think of early architecture, I instantly think of divided-light windows,” Galvan said. “Every window and door we’ve added to the house has simulated divided light grilles, bringing a sense of history to the space both inside and out.” But even though Galvan knew the window style she was after, she was stumped about where to start.

Luckily, she turned to an expert she knew would have her back — her dad. He spent his career selling all-things-home, from lumber to interior trim and cabinetry to windows. “My dad knows my style and dreams for the home. Andersen was the only option he would give us,” she said.

In Liz Marie Galvan’s home, both windows and hinged doors are white and feature a colonial grille pattern

Galvan created a cohesive design by selecting white windows and doors with a colonial grille pattern.

Did you know? Simulated divided light grilles are applied to both the exterior and interior of a window’s glass. When you choose grilles, you get to select both the pattern and how the grilles are applied (exterior, interior, in-between the glass). Galvan chose simulated divided light grilles in a colonial grille pattern, because they match her home’s historic style without sacrificing energy efficiency. Get more details on grilles.

Making her vision come to life

Galvan chose white 400 Series double-hung windows with a colonial grille pattern. White matches the interior color palette (all the walls and floors are a soft white), and the square grille pattern mimics the divided light windows from the 1800s. “The grilles really bring the farmhouse to life, both inside and out. It’s just so classic American farmhouse to me,” Galvan said.

She also chose this grille pattern for a series of A-Series hinged inswing patio doors, which are repeated throughout the first floor. This includes a set of patio doors providing easy access to the rear patio and pool area. And when Galvan’s planned pool house is built, it too will include a hinged patio door to mirror the look of the main house. The repetition of form, color, and pattern is all part of creating a look. “Cohesion is important in my designs,” Galvan said.

During construction and after, a new primary bedroom was added to the house facing the pool

In addition to the aesthetic, part of what makes farmhouse design appealing is its practicality. A set of hinged doors grant access to the rear patio and a pool, a high-traffic area where Galvan wanted to ensure good flow.

Did you know? Our hinged patio doors can be configured to open inward or outward. Another advantage of a hinged patio door is that it creates a double opening that’s ideal for letting in fresh air and easing access between indoors and out. And don’t worry, the width of a hinged door’s opening doesn’t mean you’ll have to forego an insect screen. Insect screens are available in gliding, hinged or double-track options, depending on the product you select. Find out more about hinged door options.

How window & door choices improved her family’s lifestyle

When Galvan and her family first moved in, nearly every window was either non-functional or “screeched so loudly you didn’t want to open them.” The windows were drafty and not well-insulated, making for not only chilly interiors but noisy ones. Since the renovation, Galvan said their house is noticeably quieter, and they can more easily maintain the temperature.

Upstairs, the designer chose double-hung windows from Renewal by Andersen. “I love double-hung windows for their ventilation capabilities,” Galvan said. She feels confident opening the upper sash (glass panel) in her three-year-old’s room knowing the airflow is healthy, and he can’t reach the opening. But the biggest selling point for the designer: double-hung windows are easier to clean from all stories (an important factor for someone who washes their windows once a month). “With the release of two clips, I just tip the windows inward and easily clean them from inside the comfort of my home.”

Boy, dog, and cat alike enjoy the sunlight and fresh breezes that come through the Andersen kitchen windows

400 Series double-hung windows bring lots of natural light and fresh breezes into Galvan’s home to the delight of all who live there.

Did you know? Double-hung windows can be opened from the top, bottom, or both. With their ability to bring in fresh air, their easy-to-wash design, and their classic look, it’s easy to see why they’re so popular. Less easy to see is the difference between a double-hung and single-hung window but don’t worry, we can explain.

Tips for bringing home the farmhouse look

Windows can often be overlooked in a renovation, but Galvan says it’s a decision not to be downplayed. In general, she notes that it’s important to invest in the structural and functional aspects of a house (“especially if it’s older like ours”) before diving into personal design touches. She also recommends working in stages. Living in a constant remodel can feel frustrating, so the designer recommends prioritizing family needs and functions.

Lastly, if you’re looking for some simple ways to give your home a farmhouse or cozy cottage feel, put your most-utilized items on display — let pots and pans dangle from a rack, give your market bags and aprons an artful moment by hanging them on the door, and don’t be afraid to prop up a cute broom and dustpan against the wall. Now that’s a first step to a renovation we can totally tackle.

Another easy step? Simply cleaning your windows!

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