George and John run a really cool business designing and making mascots -- you know, the kind that run around at football games or cheer at high-school track meets. Their home-based enterprise had really taken off, and it was time for them to reclaim their living room and dining area by moving the business out of the house and into its own off-site building.
While loaded with charm and character, George and John's home is also lacking in space. The living room is cozy, but the dining room is downright tiny. However, that wasn't the only challenge. George loves the traditional look of stained glass, old stonework and thick wooden trim. John, on the other hand, is modern through and through. About the only thing these two agreed on was that the original light hardwood floor had to be darkened. Otherwise, there was no consensus on a design strategy that would please both of these guys.
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We began by taking down the old ceiling, and opening up the archway between the living and dining areas. I decided to keep the fireplace in a nod to tradition, but to please John's modern tastes we gave it an update. A crisp white paneled facing covers up most of the old stonework, and what is left was painted white to blend it into the new mantel. Built-in shelving flanks the fireplace and provides a much-needed place to house books and collectibles. A new, wide-plank dark hardwood floor was installed throughout the entire space.
A clean white ceiling with recessed lighting and a fresh coat of white paint on the existing crown molding give way to charcoal-gray walls in the living room. An ivory sofa in front of the window is a cozy place to curl up, while two armless easy chairs covered in a bold black-and-white check are punched up with the addition of red cushions.
I chose a padded square leather ottoman-style coffee table and a funky two-door ivory cabinet to complete the living-room furnishings, with everything positioned on a natural-hued sisal area rug. New floor-to-ceiling draperies pull in the colors of the walls, the rug and the sofa, with yellow figures as a prominent accent. The same palette is repeated in the sofa cushions. A crystal ceiling fixture and two modern sconces atop the fireplace mantel provide more soft lighting, which is complemented by a corner-table lamp and picture lighting that is positioned over some really fun artwork.
The biggest challenge at George and John's house was probably the dining nook. I'm sure that it's in the running as the world's smallest dining room, but it's surprising how much more space we seemed to get by widening out that archway between the two spaces. Curved black banquette seating and a custom round pedestal table, along with a couple of white chairs with nailhead trim, combine to create an exclusive table for four, or more.
The entire area is done in crisp black-and-white paisley wallpaper, which is a fresh take on an old tradition.
Finally, to finish off this space, we replaced the original wooden stair rail with a custom-made black steel railing. The spindle "tuning fork" design was actually inspired by the lines of the old stained-glass windows in the living room. A burst of red accessories and another gorgeous chandelier over the table complete the look, and we now have a tiny space that sends out a great big welcome.
George and John were looking for old juxtaposed with new, and traditional alongside contemporary. This renovation delivers the goods, with a clean overall look and many great design features that capitalize on this home's Old World charm. The original stone of the fireplace peeks out from a fresh new facing; an Old World pattern inspires modern new wallpaper and crystal light fixtures are at once new and reminiscent of days gone by.
It's a huge transformation, but in the end George and John were thrilled. They've reclaimed their newly redesigned living and dining areas and now have the perfect place for relaxing or entertaining friends.
As for me, my crew conspired to have them make a Candice mascot, so you may be seeing her filling in on future episodes. After all, if I have a double, I might as well take a vacation and let her do some of the work!
• Interior designer Candice Olson is host of HGTV's "Candice Tells All."