From Empty Living Room to a Romantic Writer’s Retreat

Candice Olson creates a masterpiece design for a writer needing refuge.

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writers-retreat-before After: Candice divided the space into a writing area, a meeting area and a seating area and created cohesion with a soft color palette, dramatic architecture and shimmery details. An ideal romantic retreat for a romance writer.

The space had great bones: high ceilings, Palladian windows, crown moldings and hardwood floors, but was missing the “wow” factor. To help achieve this, I infused the room with a bit of color. I put up silvery, floral-patterned wallpaper in most of the space, and then painted the rest in a serene shade of cream.

Then, because the space was originally fashioned as two rooms (living and dining) and had columns that separated the two areas, I decided to divide the room into two functional spaces: a writer’s retreat and a meeting area.

In the writer’s retreat, I installed a new desk that blends function and fancy. The piece is a combination desk and bookcase done in a light cream with a beautiful dark wood work surface. I also added a great writer’s chair in a soft green that will be the perfect spot for Teresa to create masterpiece after masterpiece.

I worked in a little seating area for Teresa and her friends, which includes an L-shaped sectional in subtle, silvery linen, and a gorgeous gas fireplace that is surrounded with stone and has a stunning mirror above.

I hung soft, gauzy sheers with gold satin trim that diffuse light softly through the large windows at the front of the room. I then put the same sheers up to separate the writing space from the meeting space.

In the meeting area, I put in a beautiful wooden table where the romance writers can gather (and maybe Teresa’s family for the occasional meal), and chairs in a green patterned fabric and velvet. Along the back wall I put in a beautiful hutch that is backed in mirror, which serves to reflect the windows and detailing in the writer’s area.

Lighting is always a really effective way to add ambiance to a space. I installed two antique silver and crystal sconces above the fireplace, and installed an elegant silver and gold gilded crystal chandelier above the sectional. Above the table in the meeting room I installed another shimmery fixture that acts as a companion piece to the larger chandelier.

After adding some final romantic details – area rugs, vases, pictures and some books (Teresa’s books, of course!) – the redesign was complete.

This large, empty space was crying out for a happy ending. I gave it a dreamy makeover full of traditional details, cool colors and feminine inspirations. Now it’s the perfect blend of fantasy and reality – and is definitely number one on this year’s “best rooms” list. Now that’s divine!

To see where Candice shopped for this episode, you can find the resource guide at

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