Though Lauren Meichtry’s home is in Manhattan Beach, California, it’s certainly not a “beach house.” It strikes a delicate balance between staying true to the architecture of the home (more Mediterranean) while also lightening things up a bit to create a signature California casual feel. At the end of the day, the overall look is a style that’s all her own.

Meichtry is the founder of Elsie Home, a home accessories line that specializes in handcrafted pillows and curated art. Named after her grandmother Elsie–Meichtry inherited her sewing machine!–the collection brings depth and warmth to homes across the country. Naturally, her own home features Elsie Home in every room, perfectly reflecting her company’s cozy, easygoing style. She tells us more:

We’d love to know more about your home. How long have you lived here and what do you love most about the space? 
We bought this home 2.5 years ago and we fall more and more in love with it the longer we’re here. A well-designed home takes time, especially when it’s your personal home. I’m not an interior designer by trade, so I didn’t come in here with grand plans to completely revamp each corner of the home nor did I have an enormous budget to make every necessary change right out the gate. I did have a vision though and it’s been over these last 2.5 years that I’ve had the opportunity to turn that vision into a reality. What I love most about this home is that it truly feels like us. Yes, I post many photos of my home on Instagram, but I didn’t design it for anyone other than the four of us who live here and it feels uniquely ours.

What condition was the home in when you first moved in, and what were the first changes you made? 
The home had been on the market over a year when we bought it and had just recently been painted inside and out to help it sell. That was a nice perk for us, as at least the walls felt nice and fresh. The design of the home was a bit heavy for my taste and leaned Mediterranean. I don’t love ornate finishes and heavy brown wood, so the first thing I did was replace the staircase railings and upper balcony railings, followed by a kitchen facelift.  While we didn’t completely gut the kitchen, we removed most of the upper cabinetry and replaced it with open shelves, we replaced the tile backsplash, installed new countertops and painted the remaining cabinets.  We also added custom floating shelves and cabinets to the two archways next to the fireplace in our front living room, which made a big impact on the space.

A lot of the decor is from your own line, and it serves as the ultimate backdrop for Elsie Home! Is it hard parting with certain pillows or accessories / swapping things out?
I want to keep every single pillow and every single piece of artwork we make! When I first started, I thought I might actually keep one of everything. Of course, I’m not a hoarder and quickly realized as much as I love pillows, no one needs THAT many pillows in their home. Now, the only pillows I keep are those that are damaged during production, which fortunately is not very many. I think many people who work in the design industry can relate to how quickly we move through styles/trends and on to the next best thing. So while I might miss a favorite print, I know there is always another one I’ll dream up and maybe that one will be one I hang on to.

You really have a knack for making spaces welcoming and cozy. What are some of your top tips for a cozy space?  
I think the three most important components of a cozy space are layers, fabric choices, and lighting. When I say layers, I mean making sure your space doesn’t feel flat. Flat would be a room with no rug or a couch with no pillows. Or a bare wall without art. Now there is a difference between layers and clutter. You want to be a bit methodical with your choices to avoid feeling like you have too many items in your space. 

Be patient! You may not find everything you need to cozy up your space all at once or all in one store. I had an empty blanket ladder for a year before I found the perfect throw to put on it that not only looked beautiful in my space but felt good.  

Fabric choices are also really important. I prefer pillows made from linen because the texture is really soft and the colors are often a bit more muted.  I also like to use neutral colors for my upholstery, not because I’m afraid of color. It’s actually just the opposite. I prefer to bring in color with rugs, pillows and throws. It’s a lot easier to change up your space when you don’t have to replace a large piece of furniture when your style preference changes. Neutral colors also elicit a calming feeling, which I think is important when trying to create a cozy space.  

Finally, lighting is REALLY important.  Some say it’s best to have four lighting sources in a room to create ideal lighting. I try not to overcomplicate things. Brighter is not necessarily better when it comes to overhead lighting, so stay away from those super bright bulbs that make your room feel like you’re in a hospital. Then, sprinkle in a table lamp and a floor lamp in addition to your recessed lighting to create a softer feeling all around.