CANDICE TELLS ALL: Room created to be kid friendly
October 06, 2013 1:50 AM
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Tania and Vinnie spend most of their time in the basement with their two young kids. It was a big, multipurpose space that served as an office, a TV room, a playroom and a guest bedroom. Like most finished basements, there was a lot of usable space, but it was sorely in need of a better layout and a visual makeover.

Tania was in favor of introducing earthy colors and a more rustic style, while Vinnie preferred a bit more color. They like the great outdoors, so I decided to reorganize the living area with nature as my inspiration. I also sectioned off his-and-hers workstations with ample storage, a children’s play area and a separate guest bedroom, which Tania and Vinnie planned to decorate at some point.

Their old sectional sofa was, in fact, not old at all. It was certainly big enough for the living area, but it looked sloppy because it had too many back cushions. I tossed all of them and had new ones made using a contrasting patterned fabric. Immediately, this simple makeover transformed Tania and Vinnie’s sofa from flat to fabulous.

On the opposite wall, behind the TV, we hung a stunning forest-inspired wall mural. It certainly did the trick to bring the outdoors inside, instilling a real sense of calm and peace into this family retreat. Finally, we chose a beautiful but highly durable modular carpet-tile area rug. Each panel is removable and washable, because spills are inevitable when kids (and some adults) are around!

Just down the garden path — or should I say beyond the forest? — is the guest bedroom, fully enclosed and waiting to welcome those out-of-town family members.

I decided to create separate but adjoining workstations for Tania and Vinnie so they would each have a desk to call their own. Store-bought shelving with plenty of storage surrounds both desks, and track lighting casts extra light on the work surfaces. Comfy white office chairs on casters will allow both Mom and Dad to wheel across to the kids’ play area, which features a crafts-and-games table, built-in storage and an interlocking block wall that serves as a visual screen to block off the stairs.

The basement’s old drop ceiling was terribly ugly, so we replaced the tiles and installed a very cool coffered-style ceiling system. These lightweight PVC strips clip right on top of the existing drop-ceiling T-bars. What a quick and easy way to give a dated basement ceiling an instant style lift!

Like many basements, the windows in this space were small. Once again, I was able to use one of my favorite designer tricks to create the illusion of larger, above-ground windows. We installed mirrored panels below each window, and then covered the entire area — window and mirror — with wooden shutters. The light is reflected off the mirrors through the gaps in the shutter slats, and it seems as if the windows are much bigger than they really are.

The basement is a hardworking space that serves many different purposes. By sectioning it into designated zones, the room is used more efficiently and everybody gets a piece of the pie: the kids get a play zone, the adults each get a work zone and everybody gets to kick back in the lounge area. Plus, guests no longer have to sleep out in the open, which is a bonus in anyone’s book.

Warm, inviting and comfortable, Tania and Vinnie’s basement feels like anything but a basement! All the finishes are durable, and with its functional layout, this space is sure to serve them well for a long time.


Interior decorator Candice Olson is host of HGTV’s “Candice Tells All.” For more, visit

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