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Divine Design Candice Olson



Before, this room was stuffed to the gills with toys and trinkets, and was unsuitable for the whole family to enjoy. After, by dividing the space, this room was perfectly suited for both kids and adults.   SHNS photos courtesy of HGTV

Family-Friendly Fun
Candice Olsen gives a funky makeover to a cluttered room

My clients Wendy and Michael are a fun-loving family of four that had the ultimate parental home problem; a family room overrun by the kids. This room was stuffed to the gills with toys and trinkets and Mom and Dad were desperate to reclaim the space and make it work for the whole family. My mission was to create an all-ages playroom that would be stylish enough for adult entertaining but still funky and fun enough for the kids.

This sprawling family room was straight out of the ’70s, complete with outdated wood paneling, a functioning but unattractive fireplace, and a bright orange wet bar. The sheer amount of toys in this space made it clear who ruled this roost — and it certainly wasn’t Mom and Dad.

My first priority was to organize the space and address all the kid’s toys. Secondly, I wanted to create a mature environment for the adults to lounge and relax in. In order to accomplish both of these tasks, I visually split the room into two separate areas. The solution was to use an existing support column in the middle of the room and anchor two plexi-panels to it. The panels had a fun polka-dot pattern that was translucent enough to let light through, but opaque enough to provide a sense of privacy. This visual divider set the stage for the kid’s play zone on one side and the adult lounge on the other.

In the lounge area, the first thing I changed was the bright orange wet bar. Not only was it an eye-sore, but Wendy and Michael never used it, so out it came. I replaced it with a custom built banquette with drawer units underneath, which created more space, provided additional seating, and was my first step toward solving the storage dilemma.

To time-warp this family room into the present, a lot of work had to be done to the shell of this space. I replaced the ’70s faux wood paneling and ceiling tiles with drywall, installed recessed halogen pot-lights and brought in beautiful hardwood flooring. The flooring I chose was a wide-plank with a distressed mahogany finish that was stylish enough for Mom and Dad and durable enough for the kids.

The main piece of furniture in the room was the sectional sofa upholstered with kid-friendly, glazed leather. The piece faced the fireplace and provided ample seating for entertaining. A custom console shelving unit placed along the back of the sofa provided additional storage.

The fireplace desperately needed an update and was given a modern treatment with horizontal bands of gray-blue slate clad across the entire surface. We installed some mirrored shelving on one side, and placed the television on a custom stand on the other to provide balance.

In the kids’ play zone I brought in a more whimsical feel that was highlighted by a funky plexiglass light fixture shaped like bunny rabbits. Anchored below was the play table, a bright bean-bag chair and artworks made from magnified copies of the family’s fingerprints.

Storage was king in this space, and the kids’ zone had multitudes of it. An entire wall in this area was covered with a mixture of open and closed storage and much of it was concealed with simple, kid-friendly sliding curtains.

By visually dividing the space, one wreck of a room was transformed into the ultimate kids’ zone and a contemporary adult lounge area. It was a solution that worked for everyone, and was truly family friendly.

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

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