The owners of this penthouse loft were having trouble using the large, open space effectively. Their small dining nook made it impossible to host friends and relatives, and the room's dysfunctional layout hid the condo's untapped potential.


Designer Candice Olson says the key to working with a large, open space is to divide it into functional zones. Olson's plan for the condo called for a parlor area, a dining room/fireside lounge, a working nook with desk and storage, and an ultra-functional kitchen countertop prep area that flows right into a new breakfast bar.


• A large dining table with seating for six was placed opposite the fireplace. Above it, a new elegant chandelier hangs from a custom coffered ceiling. The sunken square ceiling panels pull the entire space together and make the most of this condo's rare high ceiling, while recessed lighting fixtures brighten the entire space.

• The parlor zone is home to not only a comfy custom couch, but also a shaggy white rug, a glass coffee table, a large bookcase, a comfortable tub chair and two wooden end tables.

• The wood-burning fireplace didn't pass inspection and was sentenced to burn no more. The building had no natural gas service, so the only option was an ethanol fireplace, which looks like a wood fire but burns cleanly with no smoke or sparks.

• Several heirloom pieces of furniture made by the homeowner's father were incorporated into the design, balancing the sleek new cabinets.


Olson removed a closet to make a nook for an elegant wooden desk and some shelves above it -- the perfect place to display interesting collectibles.

Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service. Interior decorator Candice Olson hosts "Candice Tells All" on HGTV.