Candice Tells All

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Reorganize, repurpose, remake: 3 R’s inspire living room, studio

By Candice Olson

Laura and Mitchell live in an old house with a new baby. Laura loves to paint and do crafts, and Mitchell likes to tinker with tools. And baby Beatrice? Well, she loves to play with about a zillion baby toys that are scattered throughout their small living room and dining room.

Old homes have character, elegance and charm, but one thing they don’t have is storage! I aimed to fix that by creating an eclectic and welcoming living room, alongside a multi-functional dining room that doubles as a studio.

I started with a swap – the living room moved into the dining room, and vice versa. With the addition of a modern comfy sectional sofa and some repurposed antique pieces, the larger room just inside the front door became an inviting living room.

We gave Laura’s rustic dry sink a coat of paint, creating a functional media console. On the far wall, we hung graphic black and white wallpaper with layers of frames sized perfectly for photos or small pieces of artwork. A warm color scheme with shades of berry reds, golds, greens, cream and brown is picked up in the sofa, area rug, throw cushions and custom draperies. An end table doubles as a display case, and a narrow wooden trunk serves as a coffee table with storage. New track lighting can be positioned to shine on Laura’s artwork.

The multi-purpose dining room/studio needed lots of storage options, along with improved lighting and a table that could be used for crafting or for entertaining. Under the window, we added a countertop, which can double as a work surface or a sideboard. At one end, we positioned an antique factory task lamp, rewired and repurposed to shed light on Mitchell’s projects. An under-counter bench can be pulled out to add extra seating for large gatherings. The table is rustic, durable and expandable, with a hint of elegance in the style and color of the legs.

The dining room looked onto a brick wall, so we dressed up the window with an automated blind that allows in plenty of light, while softening the view. New closed storage cabinets and open shelving flank the window, while the opposite wall is designed for arts and crafts. Two work surfaces are topped by an expanse of magnetic white board – the perfect place to display all of Beatrice’s artwork. And narrow counters here allow her to work side by side with mom. A tall, glass-fronted storage cabinet displays interesting pieces of art and stores more supplies.

To add vibrant color, we selected brightly striped carpet tiles. A crisp white ceiling with new crown molding and trim is brightened by recessed lighting and a custom sprayed, antler-themed chandelier.

Now, this couple has a place to relax, and a separate room where they can get creative to their heart’s content. Oh, and on holidays and birthdays they’ll have a functional dining room, too – the perfect definition of multi-tasking!

Candice Olson is host of HGTV’s “Candice Tells All.”

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