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'Divine Design' adds zest to home makeovers

Host Candice Olson serves irreverent wit with down-to-earth tips on new HGTV show.

June 30, 2003|Scott Sandell | Times Staff Writer

There's something devilish about "Divine Design," a home makeover series premiering tonight at 8:30 on Home & Garden Television. Maybe it's the irreverent, sharp-witted repartee of host Candice Olson. Or the fact that her favorite color is red.

But before we get carried away like "Saturday Night Live's" Church Lady, let's just say that this series is a bit different from the usual home improvement fare. Whereas those shows discuss stud finders and the like in complete earnestness, Olson isn't afraid to throw in the occasional double entendre to spice things up.

Still, "Divine Design" follows a fairly standard format: Toronto-based interior designer Olson arrives at a house, assesses the current disaster, kicks the owners out and gets to work. Of course, she doesn't do it alone; she's got a crew including Paul, "our hunky carpenter"; Chico, the electrician; and Steven, her design assistant. When the guys finish the project -- which proceeds to the beat of a jazz soundtrack and with no mention of the expense involved -- the displaced occupants return to their transformed space with squeals of gratitude for the host.

What sets the show apart is Olson, a former member of the Canadian national volleyball team who is now one of the Great White North's better-known interior designers. Over the years, she has made TV guest appearances offering renovation tips, and that led to "Divine Design," which began airing on the Canadian equivalent of the female-oriented Lifetime network.

Though her sense of humor is slightly skewed, her sense of design isn't. As she told the Toronto Sun, a big difference between her show and TLC's popular "Trading Spaces" is that she's more down to earth: "We don't set it up that we're coating their walls with shaved yak fur and waiting for their reaction."

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