The lower level of your home offers a multitude of possibilities for extra living space. However, basement remodeling usually comes with some challenges; there is little natural light in the space unless you have a walk-out basement, and you are dealing with large open spaces and the house’s mechanicals. What proves most challenging is making the space not feel like a cold, dark and unwelcoming basement.
To counteract the naturally cool temperature, we focus a great deal on the lighting and the colors in our lower level design schemes. We implement a layered lighting approach that combines overall illumination and task lighting sources to set a welcoming mood while offering functionality. Also, we find that choosing warm, rich colors for the walls brings a cozy feeling to a space usually devoid of warmth.
A Recent Basement Remodeling Project:
We recently completed a lower level remodel in a home located on a horse estate in Zionsville. Just like every design project we undertake, everything began with function. How was the family going to use the space? They already had a conversation area on the main level, but did not have a comfortable TV space – “a place to slug” according to the homeowner. The open space in their basement was the perfect place to put it, as well as a desired bar for entertaining and a game room for their pool and shuffleboard tables.
The unusual ceiling conditions caused by the heating and cooling ductwork determined how we divided the space into functions. Hiding the unsightly metal provided a natural division between what became the bar area and the TV area. The game area was going to be used the least, so we set it off to the side. The bar was placed at the entry of the space for convenient entertaining. As the main functional area of the space, the TV and seating were centrally located so people could easily move to either the game area or the bar area.
To bring warmth and light into the space, we added canned lights on dimmers so our clients could control the mood. Lamps added more ambient lighting. Under-counter lights not only illuminated the wet bar area, they lit the glass shelving holding the colorful alcohol bottles, creating a fanciful focal point.
The rustic nature of the horse estate fit right into our preference toward using natural materials. We chose slate flooring for the bar area for its practicality, but the rich colors ended up driving the color scheme of the rest of the project! We then chose a warm, textured neutral carpet that complimented the slate while adding a cozy place to sit on the floor in the relaxing and play areas.
We pulled the colors out of the slate flooring for our wall paint. Deep hues of grey leaning to blue, and brown leaning to khaki, provided the cozy feel our clients were looking for.
For the bar, we again chose a natural material. The granite countertops on the wet bar were also chosen for the separate bars created for extra seating and standing areas. A stone and glass mosaic that pulled all of the colors in the space together was chosen for the wet bar back splash.
The scale of the furniture played a particularly central role in this lower level design scheme. We knew we wanted to give them a large sectional for lounging as they did not have one anywhere else in their home. However, our clients are tall people, and usually have a difficult time finding comfortable furniture. We had a custom sofa created for them that fit the scale of the room and their bodies! Needless to say, our clients love the sofa – the perfect marriage of form and function.
In addition to the sofa, we added a soft ottoman for our clients to either kick up their feet or to place snacks and drinks upon. The portable side tables have bases that slide underneath the sofa so a horizontal surface could be placed anywhere someone is seated. The bar stools were also scaled well for the family and the space. They offer back support without being so tall that they obstruct the view to the TV.
We selected the accessories and artwork to fit our clients’ personalities. The rustic, horse estate theme was continued by hanging on the walls a horse print and a collection of reclaimed pressed aluminum ceiling tiles. We had created a niche in the wall behind the sofa, which ended up being the perfect spot for a bronze sculpture depicting Dr Suess’ “Horton Hears a Who” already owned by the family. Finally, as a family that loves to travel, we included a wall of oversized framed photographs of their many adventures.
The final result of this basement remodeling project was a warm, inviting space that our clients enjoyed using even more than they expected. The husband liked the smaller bar seating area so much he now uses it as a regular space to work from home, which was not part of the original plan. What elements are you looking to include in your lower level? Leave a comment below – we are always looking for more good ideas!