The problem

This penthouse condo screamed bachelor pad: big leather furniture, big speakers, a big-screen TV and even a big hole in the kitchen wall. But after a few years the owner was ready for a more sophisticated look that still kept some of that man-cave feel.


The solution

Designer Candice Olson came up with a sleeker version of party central: ditching the unused dining table and the six recliners, reordering the floor plan and adding a modern, masculine color scheme.


How it happened

• The main floor of the penthouse is a compact space, with an L-shaped living and dining room framing the kitchen. To begin this transformation, Olson’s design called for two feature walls: a rich, large-scale, patterned charcoal wallpaper for the wall behind the sofa; and for the dining room, a creamy ceramic tufted wall tile that is applied in panels and painted, for a new take on old-fashioned tufting.

• The room got more light from halogen mono-spot lighting, oil-rubbed bronze scissor-arm wall sconces above the granite gray sectional sofa and some table lamps.

• A fresh coat of “smoke and mirrors” paint (warm gray), an area rug made from durable red-and-white patterned carpet tiles that pick up on the wallcovering pattern, and complementary sofa cushions helped the bachelor pad start to evolve.

• Black leather made its way into this space in the swivel chair, conveniently placed in front of the TV for gaming, as well as the upholstery for the ottoman.

• As for the sound system, the owner retired his clunky old speakers and replaced them with compact, discreetly hidden speakers that still pack a big punch.

• A new glass tile backsplash in the kitchen covered up the evidence of a wild party that left a hole in the wall.

• On the other side of the room, Olson transformed the dining area into an ultra-hip lounge, perfect for entertaining. She banished the six-seat table and chairs that never got used, replacing the set with lots of different types of seating: a comfy high-back cream leather love seat, a pedestal table with two chairs, and four stools along the kitchen counter. The round table makes it much easier to exit through the adjacent patio doors to the balcony, and a simple chandelier adds just the right touch of elegance and sparkle.

• By reorganizing the layout of the living and dining rooms, Olson created a much smoother “free flow” of space. All six of the man-cave recliners are gone, but the owner can offer his guests several different places to park themselves. Even though this space now has more seating, it still manages to seem more spacious and open, because of the furniture placement and the types of seating selected.


Best trick

The old entertainment unit got a face-lift and was moved in front of the window, which allowed for a much better traffic flow in this space. The problem, of course, became how to deal with the glare from the floor-to-ceiling windows behind the TV. The solution? Every guy’s dream: another remote. A motorized blind system descends from the casings above the window, with a soft gray sunshade cutting the glare while still revealing the stunning view from the penthouse pinnacle.


Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service. Interior decorator Candice Olson hosts “Candice Tells All,” which appears on HGTV.