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posted: 1/4/2014 1:00 AM

Family room provides new space for making memories

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  • New storage and seating areas highlight the bright, remodeled family room.

    New storage and seating areas highlight the bright, remodeled family room.
    Scripps Howard News Service photos

  • This family room had enough space to make sure everyone could use it in their own way.

    This family room had enough space to make sure everyone could use it in their own way.

By Candice Olson
Scripps Howard News Service

Rebecca and her three kids had a challenging year. The recent loss of Darcy, their husband and father, hit them all very hard. Rebecca wanted to start down the road to recovery by designing a fabulous new family room where they could all have fun and spend some quality time together.

All three of the kids had a slightly different vision of the ideal family retreat.

Ganden, the oldest, wanted a room full of TVs and a bar -- serving only soft drinks, of course! Reid, the middle child, is a girlie girl who wanted just one thing: a sofa-bed where she could have sleepovers with her friends. And then there's the youngest, Cian, who likes to build models and tinker with projects, making a workspace high on his list of priorities.

Their family room is a good size, with a walkout to the pool, so it had huge potential. Given the reasons behind this renovation, the project was extra special, so we set about creating a healing space where this family could make some treasured new memories.

I wanted to make sure the new room had something for everyone.

To begin, we brightened things up by installing a new drywall ceiling with recessed lighting. We knocked out part of a wall to make room for a wet bar, complete with a small stainless steel sink, a tiled backsplash, floating shelving and cabinetry for storing glasses, plates and packaged snacks. For those treats that need to be kept cold, we worked a built-in fridge column and freezer column combo into a wall of cabinetry that also holds the TV and other media equipment. The appliances are concealed behind custom cabinetry doors, which Rebecca likes, while providing the cool factor that the kids really dig.

This new family room also solves the storage dilemma that naturally comes with kids. We have tall open shelving, closed cabinetry, and baskets to hold toys, craft supplies and modeling parts. For displaying precious family photos, we installed floating picture ledges down the short, angled walls on either side of the patio door. It's the perfect place to merge treasured old memories with special new ones. As an extra personal touch, we commissioned a local artist to create a painting of all the kids -- and even Chico the dog -- to create a piece of art that instantly became one of Rebecca's most prized possessions.

Parked in front of the TV is a large sectional that provides lots of seating, while also converting into Reid's dream sofa-bed, perfect for those tween girl sleepovers.

We also needed a surface for all the kids to do their school work, but specifically for Cian to work on his projects. We chose a classic white table with a hinged leaf that can be pulled up when extra space is needed. The desk is flanked by lots of storage, including pullout drawers containing bins that can be carried away and returned when playtime is done. Above the desk is a custom tinted framed out chalkboard surface for important notes or fun doodles.

Finally, we replaced the door leading to the pool area, which was just an ordinary, run of the mill hinged French door. To make the most of the interior space and to allow for easy exits, we installed a new large sliding patio door, complete with an integrated blind system.

In place of their cluttered old family room, Rebecca and the kids now have a modern, functional space customized to their needs. With something for everyone, this is a room guaranteed to see more than its share of laughs and fun times with friends and family.

As Rebecca envisioned it, their new family room is "like a ray of sunshine," heralding the beginning of a new chapter in their lives.

• Interior decorator Candice Olson is host of HGTV's "Candice Tells All."

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