Thursday, 17 January 2013

Candice Olson Family Spaces- Book Review

I don't typically buy many design books because there are so many on line sources for inspirational images and information but when I saw Candice Olson's book featuring family rooms on sale I thought I'd check it out. 

The book is set up so that each room starts with a before picture and a paragraph about the challenges she faced in the redesign.
I liked that the before pictures are actually in colour and large enough to see what they looked like before.  That's kind of a pet peeve of mine in magazines and books when they have teenie tiny black and white before pictures and you really can't see anything.
Also with the before is a mood board of the materials and colours they used, a colour floorplan and then an after picture showcasing the big change. And the rest of the rooms' pages are more afters, a paragraph on the solutions to the design challenges and a paragraph on how she added style to the room.

All the rooms were set up this way so you had lots of information about each room and piles of really great pictures from all different angles.

What I loved about this book:

~There was a really good mix of styles and functions; from modern to traditional and adult spaces to children spaces. 
This was really nice as a decorator to see how she handled different rooms in different situations, because that's exactly what I have to do everyday.

~Not every room was a complete gut job.  Many books, shows, magazines, etc. feature overhauls where they completely tear everything back to the studs and start from scratch.  These usually finish with gorgeous shots but as a decorator, I know the majority of people can't do that.  So it was really refreshing to see how she used the old stone fireplace, the big green sectional, or painted out the stucco and paneling and still got incredible results.

~I loved how much function she managed to fit into one space.  She's excellent at dividing the room into areas that work for different activities but still flow together really well.  You could tell these were spaces for real families and would be used in real life, which is what Real Interiors is all about ;)

~Style wise I've always thought Candice Olson is fantastic at lighting rooms and it showed in this book.  I think that's a really big area of decorating that often people forget. She added pot lights but she also puts in sconces, pendants, lamps, puck lights and under cabinet lighting to get really amazing results. The right things are highlighted and it feels warm and comfortable.

~She's also great at mixing colours and fabrics and materials. The end result is a room that feels very collected and natural (not stuffy).

Source: via Kirsten on Pinterest

(I love the dark moody walls in this room and how lighting and adding white balanced it out to create a really warm and cozy space.)

What I didn't like:

~There were a few design choices I didn't love (such as a silver vinyl couch or a white fabric couch in a family room with kids) but I'm sure she consulted with the families and they were happy with the idea or it wouldn't have been in the room.

~The only other thing I might have liked to have seen is a budget for the rooms but understandably it would probably be hard to find that many people willing to share what they spent on their room.


I flew through it!  I think it was a great book with lots of beautiful pictures and great ideas. I'm glad I have it in my library!

Source: via Kirsten on Pinterest
Source: via Kirsten on Pinterest
Source: via Kirsten on Pinterest

Redoing your basement or family room and need some help?  I'd love to hear from you!  Contact me at  Have a great day!

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