Candice Tells All: Interior decorator Candice Olson brings the passion of an adventure traveler home.
Jean Francois is a single guy who loves adventure travel — rock-climbing, hiking and backpacking, in particular. While scaling sheer rock faces in the far corners of Earth, he collected special souvenirs along the way, and took lots of photos. He recently bought a pint-size, one-bedroom house that was just the kind of place he wanted to call home. But it was missing that personal touch.
Jean Francois bought a sofa and positioned it in the tiny living room, but then drew a blank when it came to filling the rest of the space with his few, but meaningful, possessions.
After traveling for months at a time, this confirmed bachelor wanted a space to come home to, where he could relax with friends or get comfortable with a good book. We had to come up with a multifunctional plan that included his sofa, carpets and travel mementos, but one that also used his small, 200-square-foot living room and dining room to maximum advantage. I wanted this space to be a true reflection of Jean Francois’ personality and his passion for adventure travel, so I came up with a design that made the most of his photos, artifacts and other souvenirs.
First, we opened up the space by removing a corner cupboard and a bulky electric radiator under the window. The old ceiling came down, and we installed recessed lighting along with new insulation and drywall. Jean Francois’ comfy sofa took up residence in the former dining room, along with a stylish, low coffee table with a hinged top that swings up to create the perfect working surface. The walls in this old house were uneven, and to deal with that we used the oldest trick in the book — we covered them up with gorgeous, textured chocolate-brown cork wallpaper that is masculine yet provides the perfect backdrop for the art and accessories we chose. A pair of indigo-and-white geometric print area rugs, one for each “room,” helped to separate and anchor the two spaces, while uniting them in appearance.
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I wanted the casual dining-room area to be a place where Jean Francois could entertain a few friends in relaxed comfort. A stylish, yet welcoming, burnt-orange settee is flanked by two tall full-height custom bookcases, providing lots of display space for his travel mementos and books. We installed mirrored tiles on the wall behind the settee to reflect light and give the illusion of more space. If I had to choose one “showstopper” piece in this makeover, it would be the custom-made table designed specifically to reflect Jean Francois’ personality. This solid, round steel table sits on a base that incorporates actual rocks, bringing to mind the many cliffs he has scaled. It’s a raw, yet refined, piece that reflects its owner’s personality to a T.
To make this space even more personal, we used some of Jean Francois’ own photos to create tall photography scrolls that we positioned on either side of the doorway leading into the front hall. Fresh paint, a stylish new flat radiator, new full-height draperies and the soft new lighting all combine to give this space a completely different feel. It’s still compact, but multifunctional and hardworking, doing triple duty as lounge, library and dining room.
Best of all, this bachelor-pad makeover was designed with Jean Francois in mind. We took care to create a space that would truly be home; a place where this world traveler could hang his hat, at least temporarily, while he plans his next adventure.
Interior decorator Candice Olson is host of HGTV’s “Candice Tells All.” For more ideas, information and show times visit http://www.hgtv.com/candice-tells-all/show/index.html.