Living and Dining Room Renovation

Transform cramped living quarters with designer Candice Olson's decorating ideas for mixing traditional antiques with contemporary style.

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Carl and Tony have lived in their charming semi-detached house for 14 years. They are the social butterflies of their neighbourhood and are always hosting get-togethers, poker games, BBQs and Easter egg hunts. The duo recently decided they had outgrown their small home — especially their dark, cramped living and dining rooms — and started contemplating a move into bigger and brighter digs.

But their neighbors wouldn't hear of it. They all banded together in protest, and even bought them a beautiful leaded glass window to entice them to stay. Their "keep Carl and Tony in the 'hood" crusade finally worked. After some serious thought, Carl and Tony decided to stay and renovate instead, but they needed a major overhaul they couldn't orchestrate on their own. So I called in my crew and we geared up to turn the antique-stuffed space into a room worthy of two splendid hosts.

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The first order of the day was to knock down a few walls and turn the chopped-up living and dining rooms into one big, open-concept space. I even opened up the outside wall in order to reclaim the porch as interior space, and added new windows to let in some much needed light.

On to the details. I wanted to update the look, but retain the home's traditional character. So, I put in older-looking finishes including coffered ceilings, crown moldings and a walnut floor with a hand-chiseled finish. I also installed the leaded glass window from the neighbors.

I then got started on the room's focal point — the fireplace. The existing unit was an unused eyesore, so I updated it with new insert, mantle and marble tiled surround, and flanked it with beautiful display cabinets. Above the fireplace, I put in a television that is hidden behind a piece of remote-controlled artwork so it's out of sight when not in use. Across from the fireplace I installed a huge armoire where Carl and Tony can hang and hide their coats.

I then divided up the room into living and dining spaces, and separated them by a channel-back sofa in antique grey velvet. This sofa is part of a big conversation grouping in the living room that includes a luxurious daybed in a light grey starburst pattern, a coffee table, and a big, soft sectional in the newly opened up porch area.

In the dining area, I put in a new solid mahogany table with three leaves that can seat up to 10 people, and dining room chairs backed with the same starburst patterned fabric I used on the daybed. I then put up a wall of open cabinetry that will showcase Carl and Tony's fabulous china and crystal.

On the room's two windows I put up gorgeous linen damask panels with some light sheers to let in the natural light. To further brighten things up, I hung a traditional crystal chandelier in the dining room and two mini chandeliers near the front door, and put in some small ceiling lights and under-cabinet puck lights.

After adding a few more details and accessories, this grand-scale living and dining room renovation was complete. By opening things up, mixing modern features with traditional touches, and making this space more conducive to entertaining, Carl and Tony's living/dining room is now perfect for two – or 22.

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