Candice Olson’s Design Tips


When a successful TV star interior designer shares some of her decorating secrets, both professional interior designers and consumers are interested in what she has to say. That’s why when HGTV’s Candice Olson recently visited Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, her presentation was attended standing-room only. Ms. Olson was in town promoting her furniture and fabric for Kravet, along with her paint color partnership with Benjamin Moore.

As host of Candice Tells All, she uses only Benjamin Moore paint colors to create her awe-inspiring room transformations. Here are her favorite go-to colors for the home…

Living Rooms: #2137-50 sea haze and ylang ylang #AF-305
Dining Rooms: smokestack gray #2131-40 and mellowed ivory #2149-50
Kitchens: gray owls #OC-52 and rust #2175-30
Master Bedrooms: nimbus gray #2131-50 and cedar key #OC-16
Bathrooms: horizon #OC-53 and gray mirage #2142-50
Foyers/Entryways: pale oak #OC-20 and ashley gray #HC-87

Go to your local Benjamin Moore paint dealer for samples.

Helpful interior design tips from Candice Olson’s presentation include:
1. Every room needs a focal point. When a room has a focal point, everything falls into place around it, or at least it should. Sometimes rooms have competing focal points, such as a functional focal p0int like a TV and an aesthetic focal point like a fireplace – and this requires some extra creativity. If your focal point is an eyesore (like a clunky old TV), transform it. Hide it behind sliding bamboo panels or in an armoire. If your room doesn’t have a focal point, create one. For example, buy or create a beautiful headboard and make that the focus.

2. Embrace contrast (or get rid of that silly furniture suite). Today’s style is all about contrast. Use different textures, materials and patterns. Use furniture from varying time periods. To keep it looking curated and eclectic, no chaotic, tie the room together with repetition of color, wood tones, and furniture heights. Ms. Olson’s most adamant advice is to not buy a matching suite of furniture. Your tastes will change over the years. By buying different furniture, your furniture can grow with you. Your home will show how your style has evolved and not remained frozen.

3. De-clutter. De-clutter. De-clutter. You can beautify your home as much as you’d like, but if your house is full of clutter, the clutter is the story, not your impeccable taste. As we get older, we accumulate so much stuff. Don’t hang on to what you don’t need. Purge and edit to keep clutter to a minimum. Once you’ve done that, conceal what’s ugly and make the most of what isn’t. And don’t forget visual clutter. Busy wallpaper can sometimes make a perfectly tidy room look messy and so can bright brick fireplaces. Consider taking down the wallpaper and painting a fireplace one solid, neutral tone. Painting fireplaces white makes a dramatic difference.

4. Don’t forget lighting. With so many things to consider in a room, it’s easy to forget something so practical as lighting. But that would be a mistake. Lighting can really transform a room, especially when it’s used at different levels. For instance, in kitchens use overhead lighting such as track lighting pointed to highlight cabinets, table- or counter-level lighting to create intimacy and practical lighting under-cabinet to make sure you have enough light when you’re cooking.

5. Great unexpected expectations. The point is, sometimes what makes a room great is that it has a dash of the unexpected. That little something extra that makes the whole room pop. Examples of that wow factor with a big budget could be an infinity tub in a bathroom or a floor-to-ceiling waterfall in a loft. A wow factor on a budget could be using an antique iron gate as a headboard or a vintage door as a dining table top.


About Karen Carpino

Karen Carpino is an interior designer and founder of Chicago-based Karen Carpino Design. A professionally registered interior designer with over 25 years of experience, Ms. Carpino's clientele includes both residential and commercial projects. She brings you techniques, trends and tips in “Style At Home.”