Text by Bethany Adams
When Lizabeth McGraw found her cottage in Inglewood, California, it was at a point in the home’s history when not many would have seen its potential. “It was in really rough shape,” Lizzie says. Built in the 1920s, the cottage was owned by its original tenant until 1996 and was in need of extensive electrical and plumbing updates. Walls were missing after an abandoned renovation, the home had no heating system, and windows needed to be replaced. “It was as bare-bones as the house could possibly be,” she says.
Confident she could restore the home’s beauty, Lizzie enlisted the help of architect William J. McGraw—who also happened to be her father. “He was creative and fun and definitely made the whole vision come together,” she says. By removing the hallway and a portion of the bathroom, they focused on making the most of the smaller space. Choices like placing the dining area on the sun porch contributed to creating what Lizzie calls “indoor/outdoor-space living.”
As an interior designer and the owner of home décor shop Tumbleweed & Dandelion, Lizzie is constantly finding new pieces to incorporate into her cottage’s décor. Her theory is that “if you need storage, then you have too much stuff,” so she makes sure to keep only the necessities. “I’m always sort of editing what it is that I have in order to make my space feel fresh to me and make it as user-friendly as possible,” she says.
As a result, the cottage’s interior, which features a creamy color palette accentuated with bursts of red and green, is ever-changing. “I kind of call it ‘cellar style,’” says Lizzie. “My boyfriend jokes that he never knows if the dining table is going to be there when he gets home because if I think it works better somewhere else and I want to change things, I will.” She adds that designing her own home is different than designing a client’s home because, at the end of the day, she’s the one living with it. “When you actually live in your house, it’s a great place to experiment,” she says.
Many of the pieces that find their way into the cottage are picked up at antiques fairs and flea markets—some as close as Northern California, others farther away. “My greatest secret is going to the Port de Vanves flea market in Paris,” Lizzie says. “It’s kind of the locals’ flea market as opposed to going to the ones that are more well-known.”
One of Lizzie’s favorite parts of the cottage is the front porch, where she goes to read, work on her computer, or make phone calls. “I love that idea of the old-school front porch,” she says. “My store has a front porch as well, and when my dad was alive and he would visit, he would hang out on the front porch and greet people.” She believes that a house starts from the yard and that the porch is an important part of the experience. “It’s a great little area that I think people forget about, and they shouldn’t,” she says.
It’s that love of the little things, seen in every inch of the cottage, that really makes the space special. Despite the rough shape the home was in before the renovation, Lizzie’s eye for potential beauty, her optimism, and her refusal to shy away from a challenge ultimately resulted in this dreamy West Coast sanctuary.