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Divine Design Candice Olson



Before: Left, with oversized furniture, this space was crowded and lacked organization. After: Right, the makeover of this family room started with the scaling down of furniture pieces and blending the entire space. Combined with fun accents and soft tones, this room is ready for all types of activities.  SHNS photo courtesy HGTV

A Space Refurbished
Family room gets multi-tasking makeover

Marilyn is a busy mom who works out of her home, both as a writer and a Pilates instructor. She and her three teenagers moved into a new house that is smaller than their old digs but will be right once the children head off to university.

The only problem with the place was the main-floor family room, which also served as a media room, kitchen nook and office. Chock-full of oversized furniture from the family’s old home, the room was both congested and nonfunctional.

Marilyn wanted the space to be comfortable enough for her family, practical enough to work in and stylish enough for meeting with clients. So I gathered my crew and got set to whip this bulky room into shape.

The main challenge in this open-concept space was how to combine several different parts into a cohesive whole. I designated three distinct areas — a family room/media center, kitchen nook and home office — and then worked to bring them together in a stylish fashion.

I kicked things off in the family room by moving the doorway away from the middle of the room’s main wall. This large area then became the perfect spot for a new media center that consists of cream-colored cabinetry and chocolate-stained MDF bead-board backing.

I got rid of Marilyn’s clunky furniture pieces and scaled things down a bit. I retired her awkward sectional sofa to the basement, and in its place installed smaller pieces, including a comfy vanilla-colored couch and chair and a chocolate leather ottoman.

Next, I got started on the kitchen nook, which I redesigned to function well on its own and blend in better with the rest of the room. I got rid of the kitchen’s oversized, rectangular table and replaced it with a smaller round one that will work well for both family dinners and client meetings.

Last, I worked on the home office. I designed and finished this space so the desk looks like an extension of the kitchen cabinets but still includes plenty of storage for a computer, printer and other supplies. This office will present an organized image to Marilyn’s clients without looking too corporate.

Once the basics were in place, I attended to the details. I chose rich, earthy tones, like chocolate, cream and pear, and nature-inspired fabrics and textures, including bamboo and linen, for the open space that combine to create a contemporary yet casual feel.

The room had a lot of natural light that came from an entire wall of windows. I put up natural bamboo and woven-grass blinds all along these windows and topped them off with dummy panels that soften the edges without losing any of the light.

I then installed a mix of new and retrofit recessed halogen lights around the space, put up a new nature-inspired fixture over the table and a few pendants over the kitchen peninsula, and added arching library lights on the media cabinet.

By reorganizing the living space, bringing the furniture down to size and using accents that blend the casual and professional, this family room got a total makeover and is now fit, multifunctional and fantastic. How divine.

Interior decorator Candice Olson is host of HGTV’s “Divine Design.” For more ideas, information and show times, visit or

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