If you haven’t noticed, home improvement projects are having a moment right now—especially the DIY variety. And it makes sense. Not only are most of us home a lot more than usual, but, with a lot of extra time on our hands, we’re also demanding more of our spaces. Our homes need to be functional, pleasing to the eye, and a calming place where we can hide from the chaos of the world.
But what if you don’t exactly know how to go about transforming your home into a calming oasis? That’s when it helps to have some interior decor inspiration—and a talented designer on speed dial.
We caught up with interior designer Kate Marker about an amazing renovation project she completed in Union Pier, MI. From floor to vaulted ceiling, the cottage is impeccably furnished. But what makes this home really special is the sense of calm that permeates through each and every room. It’s the type of tranquil, sunlit abode we’re all looking for these days.
Below, Marker shares how she made this look come together, and also gives some tips for how you can achieve something similar in your own space.
Why did you choose a mostly white color palette?
Anyone who knows me knows I love white—it reflects light, it coordinates with everything, and it’s uplifting and clean.
What are your tips for getting a white room to appear warm and cozy instead of stark and cold?
Texture is the key. You need lots of light neutrals that look and feel like they have dimension, then add in accents of natural wood tones and fresh greenery, both of which never go out of style.
What are some tricks for mixing textures to create a room that’s cohesive and not chaotic?
In this project the color palette ties it together in that it’s sort of a sun-soaked palette. … Nothing is bold and oversaturated. Again, the whites and natural wood tones unify and allow the patterns and doses of color to shine, but not dominate.
What is your favorite part of this design?
The breakfast nook with the fringe detail on the green banquette adjacent to the kitchen is such a nice place to relax, mull over recipes, work on a puzzle, or mix a cocktail, but still be close to everything. The fringe and green color were both new for me to embrace, and I’m so glad I did.
What are some simple touches or single items people can add to their homes right now that can instantly make their spaces feel more cozy?
Layering rugs for interest and function grounds and warms a space. One of my favorite combos is a jute rug with a patterned vintage Turkish rug on top.
Have a few plush throw blankets to pull around you when watching TV or reading.
Add some candles—their soft glow and subtle scents are the definition of cozy, and I cannot emphasize lighting enough. It has the power to add so much personality to a room, all day, everyday. Warm and natural lighting finishes like antique brass, woven rattan, or rope (like the dining room chandelier in this home) can be [graceful] and casual at the same time.
What are your best outdoor styling tips to create a backyard getaway?
Make space for a lounge area. The outdoor furniture options have exploded over the past few years, and you can get a great look without breaking the bank. Invest in some comfortable lounge chairs that will draw you outside, and surround yourself with some simple potted plants and herbs. The look—and act—of planting and gardening is restorative.
What about city dwellers without an outdoor space? How can they bring the outside in?
Succulents and some structured, medium-size houseplants are also great options. Be creative when it comes to selecting a container that adds style to your home. It doesn’t have to be a basic ceramic planter.
As we shelter in place, our homes have to serve multiple purposes: home office, classroom, living room, etc. What is your best advice for finding balance and order indoors?
Keeping things tidy yet pretty is the goal during these crazy times spent indoors. Have a stylish place—cabinet, dresser, sideboard, shelves with baskets—that can store your papers, computer, mail. That will help you keep things organized when you transition from workspace to dining or living space. Baskets and cute containers can corral odds and ends or keep things you frequently need contained yet accessible.
* This interview has been edited for length and clarity.