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Philip, Linda and their two kids, Cameron and Jillian, make up one active family of sports enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and philanthropists. Philip is a police officer who also runs a downhill ski club for underprivileged children, and Linda is an award-winning artist who volunteers for a senior citizens organization. The kids, when not in school, are consumed by sports and share a huge paper route.

The family is so busy that the chaos of their lives managed to spread into the basement of their 1950s-style house.

The disorderly family room was a dumping ground for everyone's "stuff," and they longed to turn it into an organized, yet stylish space. So I gathered together my crew and geared up to turn this eyesore into a multifunctional room in which the gang can sort newspapers, paint pictures, watch television, entertain guests - or just relax and unwind (when they have the time).

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The whole room had to be torn apart before it could be put back together. Out went the old carpet, dated cabinetry and ugly wood panelling. And out went all of the sports clutter; it was moved into the room's adjoining hallway, where it was hung on a versatile rail system. With this accomplished, the room was a clean slate for stylish new finishes.

I looked to Linda's artwork for inspiration for the room's design concept. One of her favourite pieces caught my eye, and I decided to use its rich colours - golden wheat, russet red and soothing sage - for my own colour palette.

As the family needed the room to operate on various levels, I divided it into zones: a paper-sorting and storage zone for the kids, an art gallery for mom, and a lounge area for dad (and I hope he shares).

In the kids' zone, I put in tons of cabinetry and storage to help control all of the clutter. I then installed a newspaper-sorting island and some new laminate-covered counters. I also put down some funky, hardwearing floors.

Next, I made a showcase for Linda's art by hanging up some of her work along one wall. This whole gallery wall flows nicely into the adjacent wall where I installed a new high-efficiency gas fireplace with an amazing twist. I took one of Linda's paintings, had it blown up, transferred it onto vinyl and used it over the fireplace cladding for a spectacular effect.

I then moved into the lounge area, where I installed a comfortable, wheat-coloured, L-shaped sectional with a sofa bed for any overnight guests. I also put in a cool glass coffee table, a whimsical soft yellow throw rug, and an abundance of accent pillows in salmon and sage.

This area is now the perfect spot to watch the TV in the new media centre I built right next to the fireplace.

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I filled the remaining wall with stunning, adjustable bamboo-like blinds that give the room's small windows a more spacious look. To further brighten things, I installed halogen strip lights under the storage cabinets in the kids' zone, small puck lights under the shelves in the lounge area, and loads of recessed lights in the ceiling.

After a few final touches, the basement was ready for its unveiling. By adding lots of colour, plenty of organization and some personal touches, I managed to tame the chaos in this basement. It will soon be all play and no work (or maybe just a little less work) for this dynamic family. How divine!

Interior design consultant Candice Olson is the host of Divine Design on the W Network. For more information, go to or

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