Living Room/Dining Room Makeover: From Gutted to Gorgeous

Candice Olson transforms an empty large main floor into a great room — in more ways than one.


Candice divided the space into zones and mixed functional furnishings with modern touches for a gorgeous great room.

Nothing tests a new marriage like a heap of demolition and dust, and Phillipe and Sara know this firsthand. The couple recently got hitched and decided to move into Phillipe’s place, a 100-year-old triplex in the city. As a bachelor, Phillipe lived on one floor of the house and rented out the other two units. But once married, he and Sara wanted to turn the triplex it into a single-family dwelling.

So, they gutted, demolished and rebuilt for ages. They did a great job on their third floor bedroom and bathroom, and took steps toward finishing the second floor, but that’s when they ran out of steam. They wanted their ground floor to be an open-concept living and dining room that would lead to a kitchen in the back, but were tired of renovating. I stepped in to give them a warm and inviting space, and get them on the road to “happily ever after.”


When Candice Olson arrived at this redo, she was greeted by a gutted main floor. 

The room was really just one big space, so I had to create a sense of flow. I managed this by dividing the room up into various zones: a foyer, a living area and a dining room.

I started with the foyer. I wanted to create a little entrance area, but without walls, I had to get creative. So, I fashioned a funky privacy panel out of silver ball chain on a track that separates this area from the rest of the room, and added a shallow armoire.

Next, I got to work on the living room. The room has one very long wall, so I decided to make it multi-functional and installed a modern stainless steel raised fireplace filled with polished pebbles. On either side of the fireplace, I created a rustic statement with dark wood shelving, and with cork and foil wallpaper that has the look of birch bark.

For furniture, I chose a charcoal, three-seater sofa. The sofa sits opposite two modern lounge chairs in white leather. They all sit atop a graphic area rug that incorporates the various colors in the room.

I then got to work on the dining room. The area boasted a gorgeous bay window, but it looked smack dab onto their next door neighbor’s brick wall. I created some focal interest with blinds that have a geometric pattern and put up some beautiful charcoal drapes with an organic stripe.

In the dining room, I married the traditional and modern with a new barn-board table and several white swivel chairs. In addition to a ceiling full of recessed lights, I also put up a conventional chandelier with a contemporary twist that helps define the dining room.

After a few final accents and accessories, the room was completely transformed. By delineating living zones, combining modern and traditional finishes, and installing a host of fabulous and functional touches, this room went from an empty shell to a wonderful home sweet home. Now that’s divine!

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

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