HOW does one begin to think about a complete remake of a room that has few if any redeeming features?
Candice Olson, creative force and chief kook on the TV shows Divine Design and Candice Tells All, says: "Rooms are rooms, and no matter what the size, shape, or condition, any problem they have can be solved with equal parts brainpower, willpower, manpower/womanpower."
Diplomatic enough ... until she adds: "The real design challenge is often not the room itself but the people inhabiting it."
She doesn't mean they're strange, basement-dwelling creatures with outsized demands (though it sounds like she may have had a few of those), but that often the challenge comes from having to accommodate the needs of a toddler, parents and a granny into one less-than-ideal-sized space.
One memorable room, for example, was a basement space that wasn't inviting enough even for the dad, who routinely watched TV in the garage (that beats the basement, where the TV was housed in the disused fireplace). With a house full of girls, it wasn't possible to create a man-cave in the basement just for him, but eventual choice of dark woods, sandstone tiles and modern lighting represented a manly alternative, while bright colours and a feminine feel kept the ladies happy.
Olson, author of several books, showcases the renovation in a recent book titled Favorite Design Challenges (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $23.99) Each of the 20-plus homes in the book is accompanied by sketches and design boards, before-and-after photos and text featuring Candice's inimitable voice ("I gave the bum's rush to those yellow-and-turquoise walls...") that serve to describe each project's challenge and solution.
Basements aren't the only challenge. A client needed a space to paint, so to that end Candice took over a walk-in closet; she broke up the bowling-alley vistas through an attic guest room; she made a novelist's empty, echoing workspace into an inspirational hideaway for her romance writing; and more.
This is Candice's fifth info-packed and highly inspirational book. We're still hoping for a tome from her on lighting -- it's one of the biggest challenges for non-designers, and it's virtually her trademark.
-- Postmedia Network Inc. 2013