The problem

The homeowners moved from a condo to a house two years ago, but their living room stayed bare because they had very different visions of how they’d like to finish it off.

The solution

Designer Candice Olson combined the husband’s wish for comfort — basically a big TV and a comfy place to sit — with the wife’s wish for a sophisticated place to entertain.

How it happened

• The team scraped off the old popcorn ceiling and installed new recessed lighting to brighten things up.

• Olson selected an L-shaped sectional and positioned it to face a new built-in media center, containing the sought-after big screen TV. On the room’s longest wall, they installed an ethanol fireplace beside the TV, and finished up with more custom cabinets with a bar.

• The cabinets feature open shelving to show off pretty pieces, and antique mirrored glass doors to hide the things that aren’t nice enough to display. Hardware with just a touch of bling adds the finishing touch.

• Beside the bar is a cozy lounge area, complete with two stylish armless chairs flanking a glass cocktail table. And, in addition to those chairs and the sofa, there are lots of other flexible seating options in this space. Two ottomans are positioned in front of the fireplace, ready to be drawn up into the conversational circle. A front hall bench also provides even more seating when entertaining a large group. It will take just a minute to reposition these pieces to accommodate guests, and they can be tucked back in place when they’re not needed.

• The team painted the wooden spindles on the staircase the same color used on the cabinetry, helping to pull it all together. There’s no doubt this is a finicky job, but one that is well worth the effort, Olson says.


Best trick

The homeowners love to travel, and they’ve accumulated quite a collection of photos. To inject this space with their personality, Olson created a special gallery wall using custom molding to frame sections of elegant grasscloth wallpaper. The wallcovering is shimmery, but also natural and classic, and it provides the perfect backdrop to their treasured travel photos. This is the wall you see as soon as you come into the house, so it was important to add that personal touch.


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