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The reading room with the piano and the display kitchen glasswares

I was nagged reminded by a few friends when I went back home to Airdrie for Christmas that I had been sadly remiss in writing about the progress of my reading room. I’ve posted quick pictures on Instagram that hint to what has gone on in the room for design and decor but never written THE POST about it.

Well, here is THE POST. You can all cease pestering reminding me now.

The name of the room came from the kids themselves because unlike a lot of households I forbid a TV on the main floor near my kitchen. The reason we chose the floor plan of our house was for entertaining, our last house has two clearly defined rooms, the kitchen/dining in one part and the main family room in the other. It drove me nuts when we had people over.  I wanted a house with an all open main floor, with extra seating everywhere possible but still open to the heart of the house, the kitchen itself.

Within wanting the house to be good for entertaining that meant that I didn’t want a TV anywhere. People congregate in the kitchen, no matter how many rooms you have in your house and I loathe TV’s as background noise. Even when it was just our family at home, I wanted everyone unplugged and interacting, not zoning on the TV.

Don’t get me wrong, I love TV. Oh, do I love TV. I love movies and I’m addicted to no less than 6 shows on TV (Bones, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Castle, Supernatural and Grimm, if you want to see inside my twisted head) and watch it all the time after the kids are in bed. I’m a movie fanatic and watch my favorites time and time again.

The kids are a different matter. They will go all week without watching TV, no word of a lie. There is simply no time. I have ironclad rules about no TV while eating, excepting movies and pizza on occasion and the time after school is spent reading, practicing voice or piano or finishing any homework. Then by the time Mike gets home, we have dinner together, then it’s time for the kids baths and bed.

I’m firm on my belief that a TV anywhere near where we eat, read or talk just becomes a distraction to quality family time and quality visiting time with guests.

However don’t think for a second that I haven’t been given a hard time about this! Especially since you can see that a TV would fit oh so lovely where the keyboard is!

But it’s my house and I’ll ban the TV if I want to 😉

couch and white shelving with books and glasswares

The shelving is Ikea’s Hemnes line and by mixing and matching we managed to find a combination that fit the far wall to within 5/8 of an inch. There was a little bit of stress while building, worrying whether or not the measurements were bang on.

They were. These fit like a glove and I love that they look almost custom-made. It took Mike 4 days to get them installed and it was worth every minute that I watched him do it.

couch with retro color and white shelving with books and glasswares

The couches I found at Leon’s, which I still can’t believe. I saw them and instantly fell in love with their retro lines and color.

wall with framed art works, retro color couch and white shelving

Last weekend Mike and I spent a lot of time arguing  hanging my collection of artwork. Nothing is harder than hanging pictures that aren’t aligned exactly. Trying to get that carefree look to pictures is harder than hanging them in a line. One would think you could just throw them up there helter skelter, but no, that’s merely wishful thinking. It takes measuring, calculating and a lot of swearing to get the job done.

I was also asked about the artist whose work I collect and it’s Paulina Cassidy, a Canadian artist that paints ethereal fairies, mermaids and other enchanted beings. She now lives in the States with her husband but was an Ontario gal when I first started purchasing her original art.

I have adored all things mermaid since I was a little kid and it shows in the art I’ve bought from her. Five out of the 11 pieces of  her original art on my wall are mermaids. There is a sixth waiting to be framed.

painting of ethereal mermaid holding a baby

In the past she has also accepted commissions, and since Mike and I adore Lord of the Rings, I asked her to create whatever she wanted that had to do with the books, with the resulting piece below.

wall painting in connection with Lord of the Rings

Now remember that I come by the nickname Magpie honestly, it’s not just a catchy moniker for my website. I am an avid collector of carnival glass , especially the 1970’s Indiana Glass company’s ware.

Shiny.Sparkly. My Magpie nickname was definitely earned.

a collection of carnival glasses on top oh white shelving

Some of the finishing touches include Ikea floor lamps that just came out the past few months in a gorgeous turquoise and the awesome retro seahorses that my sister bought me for Christmas.

gorgeous turquoise floor lamp and awesome retro seahorses wall decor

How well my sister knows me. She had bought them to go in a bathroom, perhaps my master where I already have a retro mermaid hanging, but these matched this room so well that I knew they would get a place of honor.

close up of awesome retro seahorses wall decor

Again, more retro. I found this mirror at an estate sale about 10 years ago and it’s hung on the wall everywhere I have resided since.

a retro round wall mirror

Mickey I bought our last trip to Disneyland because I loved how he was black and white. I knew he was going in the reading room once the shelving was up.

stuff toy mickey in grey and black at the top of the white shelving

Believe it or not, all of my “tchotchkes”  have been chosen very, very carefully and most have meaning to them, not just random purchases. I adore knickknacks and you wouldn’t guess that all of them I agonised over and plan carefully.

The vase below is from Anthropologie and was a gift from Mike. I had pinned in on one of my house boards on Pinterest and he bought it for me. Good husband.

The glass fish was a house-warming gift from my mom and all the seashells inside have been collected from the ocean from our two trips to Huntington Beach, California by the kids and us. I won’t buy seashells, we have to collect them on our trips to add them to the fish. The kids love looking at them and reminiscing about the fun we had.

a vase and glass fish with seashells inside on the table

My inflatable terrarium footstools from the 1960’s are my pride and joy.

close up of inflatable terrarium footstool

They are so tacky, so retro that I love them to no end. I have had people walk in and ask me in a startled voice if anything was living inside of them.

inflatable terrarium footstool

The rug that was the very first thing in the reading room, my lobster rug. I love it even more a year later.

close up of white lobster rug in the room

I wasn’t kidding when I said it was the first thing in the reading room! Mike brought it back from Anthropologie in the States on a business trip since I couldn’t order it in Canada.

white lobster rug in the room

A real piano is on the shopping list for this winter and I should be able to find one that fits in that space perfectly. I have a few more pictures to  print and art to frame, but now, after a year, the reading room is pretty much done!

Now, on to the basement once it’s a beautiful bare finished space!


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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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  1. ACanadianFoodie says

    PS – love your new family photo in the footer – and mike had time to build himself a new site, too, eh? Don’t rest, either of you. You might have a moment to think about all you are doing, and then you would actually have time for a nervous break down!


  2. ACanadianFoodie says

    What a gorgeous room with a gorgeous name that hugs you tightly surrounding you by all you love when you cuddle up in it. STUNNING!


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