Profession: Interior designer and TV host
- Played for the Canadian National Women’s Volleyball Team
- Graduated from the School of Interior Design at Ryerson University in Toronto
- Divine Design debuted on Canada’s W Network in 2001
- The Candice Olson Collection of home decor products includes upholstered furniture, fabrics, wallpaper, lighting, and bedding
- Her first book was Candice Olson on Design: Inspiration and Ideas for Your Home in 2006
- Candice Tells All airs Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT on W Network
- Writes a syndicated biweekly column that runs in more than 400 newspapers across North America
- Judge for the HGTV reality show Design Star
She’s one of North America’s top interior designers.
Candice Olson made her mark with her first hit TV series, Divine Design, in 2001. It aired in more than 160 countries. But after eight seasons and 200 episodes, Olson called it quits to focus on her current design show called Candice Tells All, which airs on W Network in Canada and HGTV in the United States.
On the side, she has her own line of home decor products, ranging from upholstered furniture and fabrics to lighting and bedding. You’ll find many of those items crammed in her ride when she’s driving around town in her 2013 Lexus GX460 SUV.
Why did you choose a Lexus?
I’m a big Lexus fan. I keep getting larger and larger vehicles in scale to the size of myself, my husband and my growing kids. We used to drive a smaller Lexus hybrid, but we found we were running out of room.
Our kids got older and their feet were kicking on the backside. Then we had the gear – we went from diaper bags to hockey bags.
Between the interior design and the construction business, I always joke, ‘Why can’t I just be a writer with a pencil and a laptop?’ We’re always hauling around samples, marble slabs.
We’re a really, really active family. We’re a family of jocks. And now that our kids are at the age – between hockey teams, hockey bags, and I’ve got a competitive figure skater – it serves us well for both business and pleasure.
Way back when, we had put a down payment on an Audi sports car and then, lo and behold, I got pregnant. We knew we had to bail on the Audi.
I knew nothing about the SUV category. I’m from Alberta and it’s the land of trucks, but I don’t want to look or feel like I’m driving a truck. We test drove from morning to night every single comparable SUV out there – from the Bimmer to the Audi. I remember driving a Jeep and feeling like I had to go and put on support pantyhose and a new underwire bra!
What I liked about the Lexus is it really didn’t feel like I was in a big truck. It drove like the Audi sports car that we were so set on getting until I got knocked up. I like a nice comfy ride.
It’s a big SUV – any problems driving or parking it?
That was a big concern. But I love the whole parking assist system. The bleepers and sirens go off if you’re within a foot of anything. I don’t even think I could park a car now if I didn’t have the rear cameras. It makes it idiot-proof, which is so my style.
Do you know what’s under the hood?
It’s a 4.6-litre V-8; 300 horsepower. And it’s got lots of cup holders. My husband jokes I know nothing about the car other than I’m always looking for my coffee cup holders.
Does the Lexus share some of the principles you value as a designer?
First and foremost, form before function.
I’m 6-foot tall, my husband is 6-foot-2 – the SUV had to feel really comfortable. I need to feel like I have some head space. We get into so many vehicles and I just feel like a giant in them. This one is really comfortable.
I got a black one. I’ve got a black leather interior with the burl wood and satin stainless steel metal accents. If I could transfer, which I do, a lot of those finishes and even those colours into a lot of the interiors, I do.
I love the styling. I love the little features – the GPS. I’m at the stage of my life – in my late 40s – where I need glasses for every last thing. I love that the size of GPS screen. I love the voice-activated GPS feature and voice-activated dialling.
Our lives are a bit of a gong show with all the stuff that we have – with our kids and us and our careers; I like my hands to be free to do anything like turning around and throttling my kids!
I love the heated seats, too. They have a ventilated seat feature as well – it’s a little strange if you haven’t felt it before. You kind of wonder what is happening in your nether regions. I have to explain it to people.
What don’t you like about it?
The gas. I have to say, coming from the hybrid Lexus SUV to this, we knew it wouldn’t be great. I think it’s about 18 miles a gallon – it’s not fantastic. We don’t take uber-long trips. We take it for one-, two-hour trips at the very most. It would be nice if gas wasn’t so much.
What does a Lexus GX say about you?
I used to be really street, hip, and I lived on Queen Street. Now, it makes me feel like a gangster mom. I think it’s kind of cool. I might be a couple years away from 50, but I don’t have to feel like I’m 50. I’m still the rockin’ soccer mom – the gangster mom.
What was your first car?
I remember I saved up all of my money from working at Bob’s Bigger Better Alberta Beef Broiled Burgers. I was tight with one of the guys in shop in high school – we were skiing buddies. We both got kicked out of math class together and we hitchhiked to Banff to go skiing. He was a big shop weenie and he was trying to unload this ’71 Toyota Corolla that he had completely tricked out.
This thing was hysterical! I got it for 350 bucks. He had lined the whole thing in brown fake fur. The tires were bald. It was white and rust. But the best – on the steering wheel there was this bare wire that was coming out where the horn would be. When you wanted to honk the horn there was no button to push. You had to grab the wire and attach it to something that was metal like your belt buckle and it would honk! …
The big gag was that it weighed [so little] a bunch of the guys would pick up my car and we had about 300 steps to the front door of our high school like the White House steps. And the guys would carry my car and put it on the landing!
This interview has been edited and condensed.