When Gabrielle Kara and her husband, Faiyaz, moved last April from their 2,300-square-foot Lake Mary house to a home in College Park with 1,450 square feet, they had to seriously downsize their lives. Kara lost space, but she gained a “reading room” when she turned her new home’s enclosed front porch into a comfortable room filled with antiques, treasured mementos and, of course, books.
“Reading is one of my main hobbies,” says Kara, director of operations for Our Sunday Visitor, a Catholic textbook publisher. “It requires my full attention, so I can’t think about other things. That helps me to relax completely.”
Although the couple has contrasting decorating styles—she is the self-professed “queen of the antique stores” while he leans more toward Scan Design—they managed to compromise on the reading room. Kara filled it with personal items picked up during their travels, such as a hand-carved plate with an African savannah scene that Faiyaz got during a trip to Kenya, and a tribal-looking portrait bought in Cuba. She also incorporated a few antique pieces, including two stained glass windows that separate the reading room from the living area. She found them at A and T Antiques, a favorite haunt. “The windows look exactly like ones we saw in St. Augustine when we were planning our wedding, but we were so busy, we didn’t buy them at the time.”
Kara spends as much time as possible on her chaise with a book. “This room has some of my favorite things,” she says. “It reminds me what a loving, cozy home my husband and I have created.”