This past Friday I had a chance to hear Candice Olson give a very funny and insightful talk about her approach to design, the inner workings of Divine Design, and her collection of classic upholstery available at the Charles Ray showroom. I've always admired Candice for her incredible sketches, her emphasis on focal points in a room and her talent for lighting. Now I have to add to the list her very funny sense of humor. Here are a few examples I'd like to share - keeping in mind that reading them isn't quite the same as hearing them.

"Our show is a WE endeavor. Let me tell you, making a 42 year old pregnant woman look good is a we project."

"On our site we give all the sources for every product used. A fan of the show from Chicago sent me a picture of a room that she completely duplicated. I think I'm going to have to send her an invoice."

"We are shooting 5 shows at any given time. It's hard to keep track of which outfit I wore. At one point I wondered, Do I have to get pregnant again for continuity?"

"The bulk of $140,000 for a kitchen addition went for the shell of the room, the electrical, the plumbing, etc., not for the fun stuff. I mean, has anybody every commented on your plumbing?" A gentleman in the front raised his hand. Candice responded, "Well...that might be the subject for another show."

Here she is patiently signing autographs at the Charles Ray showroom at the Washington Design Center. (This is the best shot I have - my camera was behaving very badly)

Candice instantly connected with the audience primarily comprised of designers when she talked about the challenges that clients can present - especially when they are dead set on incorporating a sentimental piece into a room's design. Below is the infamous gold spray painted piano that the client's three generations of family members had learned to play piano on. Refinishing it wasn't an option so Candice said she had to channel her "inner Liberace" for design inspiration. I think her dramatic (and brave) choice of black walls is brilliant. She said, "we worked with the gold - through the plaques and the gold linen on the Martin chairs." Candice also mentioned that she tends to use large dining chairs so they can double as occasional chairs.

Image above an example of one of her many successful basement rennovations.

This bathroom renovation illustrates her careful attention to lighting.
One of her amazing sketches. The realized room below.

Before - room with no focal point

After - Fireplace with 7' long glass panels back painted in gray & framed with polished aluminum

Images via Home magazine, designer Candice Olson, photography by Brandon Barre
Some additonal tips that Candice shared during the Q & A session after her presentation:
- Favorite white - Cloud White by Benjamin Moore
- Favorite type of light - 50 watt halogen with a gimbal ring, to allow for angling the light. Likes how halogen renders colors true.
- Her lighting plans are based on what the lights will be illuminating. For recessed lighting she focuses on where the light will be going and doesn't worry about having them evenly placed in the ceiling. She feels that you will read where the illumination/light is not where the recessed fixtures are located.
- Typically, when it's possible, she'll locate recessed lighting 14" away from the wall.
- The right lighting raking down a drapery can make $3 cotton look like expensive fabric.
- Layers of lighting sources (Overhead lighting, lamps, accent lighting on artwork, even track fixtures for budget jobs) create intimacy in a room and in small spaces can push the walls out.
- Upholster twin mattresses, stack them to form a day bed and for later use as a guest bed.

- Smallest and largest budget for Divine Design: $2,500 and $140,000

  Candice Olson Favorite Design Challenges