One of the most popular TV designers today is Candice Olson of HGTV’s “Divine Design.” Hundreds of her fans visit my blog each week in search of more information about her. They ask questions like, “Who is she married to? Where does she live? How many kids does she have?” So for those Candice fans out there who want to know more about her, this post is for you!
Olson is married to–and works with–custom home builder Jurij Sennecke. Their business is aptly called Divine Homes. They design and build several houses together a year, and she says that working together can be tough. “We share an office. He’s German and stubborn, so we duke it out.”
Candice and Jurij have a home in Toronto with their two young children, Piper and Beck. She told Ocala Style last year, “Beck is 2 years old and is a Tasmanian devil—everything below three feet in the house is his. Right now, my daughter, Piper, who is 4 years old, is channeling Paris Hilton because she’s all about the shimmer and sparkle, so I’m thinking we may do a princess room for her.”
Even though she’s a designer and married to a builder, she admits they don’t live in a perfect house. In fact, it often ends up last on their to-do list. She says all she wanted for Christmas one year was a simple baseboard molding in the dining room–but still didn’t get it!
As a college student at the University of Calgary, Candice toured the world with the Canadian national volleyball team. In her book Candice Olson On Design (2006), she wrote:
“Volleyball taught me how to work hard–really, really hard. To this day, I’ve never thought that I’m any more talented than the next designer–I just work harder, and hard work pays off!”
After graduation, she moved to Toronto to attend the School of Design at Ryerson University, and then got a job as a commercial designer. That’s where she says she learned the importance of good lighting.
In the early 1990s, she was invited to appear on a local morning show in Toronto to talk about decorating. She was such a hit that she became a regular for the next 9 years.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Olson worked at several firms before starting her own in 1994. Then in 2003, HGTV came knocking–but she wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about the opportunity to host her own show:
“I went into TV kicking and screaming,” she says, adding that dressing up and working in front of a camera is the part she likes least about the gig. “If I could do the show in a pair of cutoffs and a T-shirt, I probably would.”
She was determined to keep the show “real:”
“What puts ours in a different niche from a lot of the other shows is that they say things like, ‘We’ve got 24 hours to renovate, and we’re doing it for $50!’ I mean, think about it: If you’re going to do a renovation, or just attempt to fix up an area in your house, you don’t give yourself 24 hours.”
This Bedroom Was Stuck in the ’80s Before Candice Got to It:
After the “Divine Design” Reveal:
She answered some questions for the St. Petersburg Times, including:
Q: What should people get rid of?
A: Fussy draperies. They’re like a showgirl sitting in the middle of the room. They can really date a room. Windows should be clean and simple. A big monstrosity of a TV cabinet with the television concealed behind doors. Get over it, Honey, TV is here to stay.
Q: What are the biggest design mistakes people make?
A: People used to be so concerned about their style: traditional, modern. In the ’80s and ’90s people pigeonholed themselves. Now they’re exposed to what’s going on in the design world, and they want a mix. There’s a trend toward more eclectic rooms.
Q: What’s your favorite countertop surface?
A: Seventy-five percent of what I do is quartz.I love the practicality: the consistency of color, no seaming, no staining.
Q: What is your house like?
A: It’s a very simple 1950s modern house in Toronto, about 4,000 square feet. Our kids ride tricycles inside the house. It’s on a golf course (we don’t belong to the club) with a great view. The back of the house is glass. I’m bombarded with design and color day after day and I design every single day. I wanted someone else, Mother Nature, to design this house. The house is all about what’s outside.
I never get to bed before 2 a.m., the kids get up at 6 a.m., I’m a working mom, and we’re a typical family, trying to juggle the kids, being a good wife. Our house is lived-in and comfortable.
You can see the rest of her questions and answers here.
They only shoot 26 shows a year for “Divine Design,” and they only work in the Toronto area. Kitchens are the most-requested room–and the most challenging. She says, “Every one of these bloody kitchens ages me 10 years.”
The clients pay Olson for their makeovers, and some have cost over $100,000. She believes it’s important to take their time with a remodeling project and to do it right. (Source: Tampa Tribune.)
Candice joined the judging panel of HGTV’s “Design Star” reality competition last year alongside Vern Yip and Genevieve Gorder. *2012 Update: “Design Star” Returns Without Candice.