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Divine Design Candice Olson



Left: before, located off the kitchen, the family room was a catchall for rejected furniture and lacked design inspiration and functional direction. Right: After, with a selection of colors and textures combined with some organization, the room became a multi-use space with style.  SHNS photo courtesy HGTV

From Mishmash to Magical
Multi-use room receives functional makeover

Most of us have one room in our home thatís a catchall for just about everything ó television watching, reading, storage, pet lounge, game room and so on. And for most of us, itís horribly disorganized and doesnít manage to serve even one of those purposes properly.

In this clientís family room, I was faced with such a challenge. The sunken family room was off the kitchen and had a door that led to the back deck. The space served a mishmash of masters, from being the only spot in the house for the children to watch television to being the pet zone for the family budgie and guinea pig. There was constant traffic going through here, and all the leftover furniture from the rest of the house was retired to this spot.

The result was a cluttered, unorganized and unattractive space that cried out with potential.

I decided I needed to start with a clean palette in order to configure an organization plan for the room, so I moved out all the old furniture (some of it permanently), books, games, pets and people. This gave me clean access to the walls, floor and windows.

I started by repainting the walls a rich burnt-butter color. This complemented the tiled floor, which my clients had installed previously. The wraparound windows had California shutters, which gave the space a busy and chopped-up look.

I softened the effect by adding canopy-style valances to the top in a colorful striped pattern. This a tricks the eye into believing the windows are taller, in effect raising the ceiling height, as well.

Seating in here was key. I had a built-in corner bench made that was covered with overstuffed, comfy cushions in a soft cotton fabric that worked with the valances. The fabricís pattern is also great for children and pets, as itíll hide stains and other mishaps well.

For additional storage, I made sure the bench had a hinged lid that could be easily reached, making it a great place to hide games and toys.

I didnít want to overcrowd the space with too much furniture, so I brought in only one side-console table with fitted baskets that slide out and open space for the budgie cage and guinea-pig home.

I placed a small coffee table in the middle of the room and a wicker rocker was set to the side, under which I put a grass mat.

This touch of the tropics was enhanced by a large ceiling fan hung in the middle of the room. Two pedestals with gorgeous flower arrangements flanked the door to the back yard and gave the entrance some importance.

All it takes is some creative organization and a few designer tricks to turn a mishmash of a space into a functional, relaxing getaway. Pour a tropical cocktail, turn on the fan and grab your favorite book. This room is ready for you to come in and relax.

Interior decorator Candice Olson is host of HGTVís ďDivine Design.Ē For more ideas, information and show times, visit or

See more Divine Design columns by Candice Olson

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