Making a limited space serve two purposes | Drapery Connection

A warm coat of paint and careful selection of functional furniture transform an urban loft with tons of potential into a space that's suitable for everyday living ” and perfect for nighttime entertaining

Candice Olson Special to The Tribune

Imagine this: You buy a funky loft in the hottest neighborhood in the city. You picture yourself throwing swanky cocktail parties, entertaining the hippest people in town and enjoying the energetic high life that loft living offers.

This is what my client envisioned when she moved into her space, but the reality was much less exciting. Without a good design scheme, she'd spent two years avoiding having people over, staying in on Friday nights and dreaming of the loft life she thought she'd have.

I decided it was time to make her dreams come true.

My client is a gregarious, beautiful young professional whose only design obstacle was figuring out where to begin. Because the living room in her loft was open to the kitchen and was set off by a wall of windows, the first decision was paint color. I chose a stunning muted celery green, which, when wrapped around the room, gave instant warmth to the large space.


The window was fantastic, and I wanted to make it a central focus in the space. Keeping in mind her vision of snazzy soirees and cocktails, I had a custom window bench made to fit between the built-in bookcases on either side of the window. The bench served two purposes: The hinged lid flipped up for additional storage, and it offered a great seat for mingling guests. On top we lay a thick French mattress made from a high-sheen, gold-silk fabric.

The bookshelves were covered with grass cloth, which rolled up for easy access. My client could hide her less-than-beautiful items behind the cloth and still get a clean look that suits the rest of the space.

Still working on the window, I had full-length side-panel draperies sewn from a rich gold-hewn fabric. These gave weight and definition to the window and flanked the single layer of soft sheer fabric that was fitted right to the window frame. This allowed all the light to filter through while also providing privacy.

Because mingling at the cocktail party was the name of the game, I had to think carefully about where the guests would sit. I brought in a caramel suede sofa and a few comfy armchairs. The dining-room table, which can be used to house a buffet or bar, was pushed up against the wall, and I hid a few cube seats underneath.

This opened up the space more ” I'm thinking impromptu dance floor ” and in case of just such an event, I laid down a large area rug so that the people living below wouldn't be awakened by all the dancing feet.

Final touches such as a large hanging pendant light and dimmable wall sconces allowed for the mood in the room to be changed from day to night. Mirrors were hung on either wall, and floating shelves were put up to showcase my client's best conversation pieces.

The key to making a space like this serve two purposes ” everyday living and nighttime entertaining ” is with careful selection of furniture. Having as many things as you can perform double duty is best, such as our dining-room table/bar and storage bench/window seat.

Now all that's left is to send out the invitations, mix the cocktails and put on our dancing shoes!

Interior decorator Candice Olson is host of Home & Garden Television's "Divine Design." For more ideas, information and show times visit or


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