A lifelong lover of antiques and vintage, Meghan MacWhirter is a ceramic artist based in Calgary, Alberta (Mohkínstsis). Meghan’s love of bright colour, whimsy and retro designs is reflected in her ceramic art, personal style and joyful, brightly decorated home.
Decorated with as much vintage and thrifted furniture and home decor as possible, her home design brings in plenty of bright colours and fun patterns. She lives in a 1,200-square-foot rental home with her husband, an artisan ice cream maker, and their two cats. As a renter, Meghan looks for spaces with character details like original wood panelling and clean white walls to give her a solid blank canvas to work with. See how she brought vintage character and the sunniest colour palette to life in her artful vintage-inspired home. Be sure to also check out the video tour of Meghan’s colourful abode.
Meghan is passionate about vintage and thrifting and tries to buy secondhand as much as possible, which can be seen throughout her heavily 1960s and ’70s-inspired home that is a midcentury modern lover’s paradise. The blue chair seen in her living room is a perfect example of a furniture piece that she gave new life to. It was an incredible curb that she had reupholstered in a lovely shade of blue fabric.
A Magical Mushroom
Meghan pairs her upcycled blue chair with a custom-made yellow mushroom stool from Chicago-based home decor duo Beautiful Days. The design is based on a 1970’s mushroom stool, but as she was unable to source the exact right one, she had it made. It’s the perfect perch spot for Meghan’s two cats, one of whom can be seen here (hi, Mo!).
Meghan likes using plants to bring colour into her space. Not only are they great for decor, but she likes them for improving air quality in her home. She pairs her beautiful locally-sourced plants with vintage planters. “I think that plants are a great way especially for renters to liven up the space. Bringing in some greenery is the greatest visually, but also for your health,” Meghan says.
Get That Shelf(ie)
Meghan collects vintage chalkware banks made in Japan. Her impressive collection can be found displayed all throughout the house, adding whimsy and colour in nearly every room. Also displayed here are vintage planters from Meghan’s collection of pieces by California-based 1960s ceramicist Frank Moreno.
Meghan fell in love with the character details of the apartment, including this charming built-in shelf, which she calls once of her “favourite visuals” in the house. The landlord had initially asked Meghan and her husband if they wanted the shelf removed, which they refused, knowing it was part of what made them adore the space. It’s also the perfect storage solution for their many books and a few more plants, bringing interest to the area.
Meghan’s favourite corner is the dining area. The wooden hutch adds even more storage for her collection of chalkware banks, and the vintage tulip dining set works perfectly with the space. Meghan sourced the dining set from Reclaim Vintage in Calgary and had it reupholstered in her favourite shade of sunshine yellow. Completing the aesthetic is a vintage wall hanging from another local favourite, Bex Vintage, in the same shades that adds texture and interest to the white walls.
A Sunny Disposition
Initially a pink lover, Meghan found herself more drawn to rich and sunny oranges and yellows over the years. Her shades of choice are the perfect pop for her renter-friendly white walls, making her space feel happy and inspired. “I try to make my space really happy and inspirational. I don’t want it to be dark, especially in the wintertime. Like when it’s freezing outside, I want a little sunny paradise inside,” she tells us.
This wooden hutch was the first thing Meghan decorated in the house, filling it with her brightly-coloured vintage Pyrex dishware and her collection of chalkware banks. Her favourite of the chalkwar banks is the sheep, an Etsy find that had been in her favourites for months when her mother gifted it to her for Christmas as a surprise. “I was devastated because I didn’t realize [the person who bought it] was her for like, months. I kept talking to her about it being like, ‘I’ll never find that sheep again’.”
The house still features the original 1960s kitchen, complete with all-white cupboards and refrigerator. While well-loved, Meghan loves the character of the wood panelling and cupboard knobs.
Pops of Colour
One of the challenges as a renter is to add pops of colour and character without undertaking large redesign or renovation projects. Meghan brings her design personality into the kitchen through retro details like a Lazy Susan, more bright vintage Pyrex and unique vintage tea towels (this one sourced from a local antique mall).
A Bright Bathroom
“When I saw the bathroom for the first time I was like, ‘Yeah, this is it’. I love the greeny-yellow of the sink and the toilet and the bathtub match.” Meghan tells us about her bright retro bathroom.
One of the most interesting and unique details is the sideways sink. We love the acrylic crystal knob (such a perfect blast from the past!). Meghan continues her animal theme with a vintage snail toothbrush holder from Avon. The quirky details are really what tie the space together and fill it with fun and whimsy.
The design is very cohesive throughout the house and brings in many of the same elements and colour palettes. Meghan introduces the same tulip chair that can be seen in the dining area in her office. Instead of the sunny yellow upholstery, her office chair brings in that bright punchy orange. “The lamp is one of my favorite pieces. I got that from an antique mall. Those are usually like really hard to come by or priced ridiculously steep, but I got that one for $40. I have never seen them in pink before,” Meghan shares.
All On Display
As an artist who works from home, Meghan’s workspace and display area is very important to her. “I actually have all my stock set out on little shelves in case people want to come over and shop. I really like having my work set up like a little shop even if don’t if people don’t come over just because I like to be able to like visualize things and see everything laid out and I also love how often it works with the home”. You can check out Meghan’s ceramic work, including her latest collection of holiday ornaments, on her site here.
Without a doubt, one of the coolest vintage furniture pieces in her home is this bright and groovy office filing cabinet. Meghan tells us how she came to own the special item, “This is a vintage filing cabinet that a customer of mine actually messaged me saying her grandma was getting rid of it and I had to have it. I’ve never seen a filing cabinet like that, let alone with a print on it at all”.
Meghan shares the sweet story of this cow-themed corner in her office, an ode to her love for animals, and one special cow in particular. “This is my little cow shrine. So that’s actually photos of a cow. His name is Samson. He is one of the first cows I met in person at the Alice Sanctuary which is like a little rescued animal farm sanctuary outside of Calgary. And he kind of inspired me to go vegan, really. And so then I just kept getting all these little cow things and I put them together because I love a theme”.
Functional Pieces as Art
“I really liked the idea of finding something functional or with use and putting it up on the wall as art,” Meghan says of these vintage 1960s children’s animal sleeping bags that she repurposed as wall tapestries. “I fell in love with it because of the prints and the colours and, of course, the cow. I want a trio. I found the cat on Etsy but I have yet to find a third”.
Meghan loves the original wooden closet doors in her bedroom (what a relief that these weren’t painted white!). They keep the character of the home alive and complement the rich and warm-toned original hardwood flooring that can be found throughout the house. Hardwood is a must for Meghan, both stylistically and especially as a cat owner.
Meghan incorporates vintage pillows and bedding into her bedroom. We love the lavender pillow for a fun contrast to her main colour scheme. The dreamy translucent curtains provide plenty of soft light into the couple’s bedroom. The bedside tables are a great midcentury modern find from Bex Vintage.
No room in Meghan’s house would be complete without a splash of colour brought by her unique vintage chalkware bank collection (she might just have the largest private collection in the province). Meghan loves the look of duplicate banks in multiple colours, as can be seen here. Her unique use of vintage tchotchkes brings an incredible dose of fun, retro style and humour to her rental space.