At some point, we’ve all been told to “go with the flow.'” And when it comes to great design, it’s definitely sage advice.

This hit home for me during a recent redesign for my clients, Lisa and Randy. The couple recently renovated their kitchen into a sleek, contemporary gem, full of clean lines and beautiful finishes. But they had an adjacent family room that was a total disconnect. With its parquet flooring and clunky furniture — not to mention a giant giraffe statue — the family room looked like it belonged to another house.

The couple wanted harmony between the two rooms, but didn’t know where to start. So, putting into play the principle of design flow, I set out to make the uninspiring family room visually relate to the gorgeous kitchen.


The key to this type of design is getting the two rooms to speak the same language, and this is done with material, form, shape and color. To make this happen, I got rid of everything in the family room and started from scratch.

I selected a color palette of the grays, charcoals, tans and browns used in the kitchen, and decided on the best ways to extend those shades into the family room. I painted the family room a light gray and installed new walnut hardwood flooring that picks up on the color of the kitchen island.

The family room consisted of three walls that I made use of in very different ways. On the back wall, I created a dark gray accent wall and installed a modern gas fireplace. I then flanked the fireplace with large white cabinets that include mirrors and wooden display shelves.

I fashioned a sitting area along the second wall, complete with two tan faux-hide chairs that relate to the golden color of the kitchen tiles and two graphical ottomans. On the window, I installed simple blinds and flanked them with panels of natural-colored drapes accented with gray banding.


I gave the third wall a dash of the unexpected. On one-half of the wall, I installed a large-scale floral mural that relates to the kitchen’s flowery chairs. On the other half, I hung a huge custom-made wooden door with exposed hardware, which injects a bit of rustic character into the space.

One of the ways to create flow is to ensure that your space has effective traffic patterns from one zone to the next. Lisa and Randy’s old sofa was bulky and really obstructed the flow. In its place, I put a contemporary sectional with a low back that divides the space without stopping the flow. Upholstered in a dark charcoal fabric with a slight heather look to it, the sectional speaks to the charcoal that runs through the kitchen’s backsplash.

For me, finishing a design means concentrating on the details. And in this project, details were a big part of establishing the flow. So, I brought in side tables, throw pillows, artwork and accessories in colors and styles that helped pull the rooms together.

It’s one thing to create a beautiful space on its own, but in design, no room is an island. By using colors, materials and even a bit of the unexpected, I created visual flow between Lisa and Randy’s kitchen and family room. The rooms now speak a common language — and will be happily chitchatting for years to come.


Interior decorator Candice Olson is host of HGTV’s ‘’Candice Tells All.” For more ideas, information and show times, visit