Candice Tells All

How to give a guest suite the hotel treatment

Scripps-Howard News ServiceJuly 19, 2013 

Redesigned to emphasize convenience and color, a basement becomes a spectacular guest suite.


Booking a luxurious suite in a swanky hotel is one of the nicer things you can do for yourself when traveling. There’s nothing quite like kicking off your Manolos at the end of the day, slipping into billion-thread-count sheets and ordering up room service.

My clients, Marc and Maureen, often dreamed of such a hotel suite – but they dreamed of having it in their own home. With two kids and little space to spare, they really had nowhere decent for visiting relatives to stay. When guests did come, they had to sleep on an inflatable mattress in Marc’s office.

The only available space in which to create a guest room was the basement, a cold, dark space with no windows. But with enough TLC, I knew I could transform it into a suite fit for a queen, a rock star – or an in-law or two.

The inspiration: When designing the perfect guest suite, it is important to focus on the three C’s: comfort, convenience and color. To see the three C’s at their best, I toured a suite at the Hotel Le Germain, one of the nicest boutique hotels around. What struck me was how the comfort (plush furnishings and deluxe linens), convenience (lots of storage and an amenity-laden bathroom) and color (a soothing palette and lots of light) combined to create tranquility and warmth.

Setting the stage: I started by gutting the place. I then insulated the walls with spray foam and painted them a warm shade of almond, installed brown cork flooring and constructed a new ceiling with recessed lighting. Next, I created two zones within the larger space: a bedroom and an en suite bathroom.

The bedroom: To create a peaceful atmosphere, I chose a rich palette of cream, butterscotch, gold and wispy blue/grays. I used one wall as my focal point and put up an enormous tufted headboard in a luminous golden fabric. Against this headboard, I put in a deluxe bed with sumptuous creamy linens, quilted coverlets in sand and pewter, and tons of accent pillows. I then flanked the bed with two silver-leaf end tables with large mirror sconces above.

I also fashioned a comfortable sitting area in the room, which contains a gorgeous gas fireplace, a creamy chair and a small wood table – the perfect spot in which to unwind with a good book. For added convenience, I designed a long work desk that doubles as a vanity, complete with a large mirror that conceals a TV.

The bath: I wanted to do something special to separate the bedroom from the bathroom, so I chose French sliding doors and applied nature-inspired frosted vinyl graphics on the glass. These doors keep the space open between the two rooms and provide privacy. I used the same kind of doors for a big storage area in the bedroom. All of these doors, in conjunction with the lighting and mirrors, create the illusion of a bright, window-filled space.

In the new bathroom, I added every convenience. After painting the room a warm gray and putting down lush slate tiles, I installed a gorgeous vanity with a large mirror, a modern toilet and a shower enclosure with a frameless tempered-glass surround.

Using comfort, convenience and color, I transformed the basement into a spectacular guest suite. It’s now so lovely that the couple could charge visitors boutique-hotel prices. Actually, that might be the only way to get guests to leave.

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

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