Basement Project #2: The Best of Intentions

Hang-Out Space

When we moved into our house 9 years ago we had the best of intentions for the basement. Our last child had just graduated from high school and still needed a place to hang with friends. I figured the basement would be perfect for that. And I already had the furniture. We had recently purchased a very comfortable and expensive-enough couch with a matching chair and ottoman for the family room in our old house. The only complication was getting the 7-foot long couch into the basement of our new house.

That challenge was resolved quickly—by our extensive kitchen remodeling project. Until the kitchen walls were framed out, our basement was temporarily accessible to a 7-foot couch. We knew that once in the basement it wouldn’t come out again in one piece. But in the mean time we would get great use from it. What I didn’t count on, was all the other home projects that always seemed more pressing than fixing up a hang-out space in the basement, and nine years later the couch was still wrapped in the same plastic that the movers wrapped it in. What a waste of a good couch! It’s time to reclaim it.

Plant and Dog Grooming Room

The basement space has been useful over the years – just not as accommodating as we need it to be. For instance, there is a great plant room. Every fall I bring my tropical plants inside that have been outside in the garden all summer. I hang lights from the plant room rafters to sustain the plants throughout the winter. I don’t have to worry about water overflowing onto the concrete floor because there is a floor drain in the room. The room isn’t heated, so it’s perfect for overwintering. With a few more amenities this area will continue to function well as a plant room. And with the added benefit of a new sink it will also be a place where I can bathe my dog at home rather than pay to have her groomed elsewhere.

Workout Area

The basement is also the logical space to locate our treadmill and recumbent bike. When working out we have relied on a monster of an old TV that requires us to crank up the sound in order to hear it over the noise of the treadmill. Because the ceiling wasn’t finished the noise from the TV could be heard even in the second floor bedrooms! So a feature of the new basement must include a flat screen TV that we can use with earphones. The ceiling will also have to muffle some (preferably most) of the sound emanating from the basement.

I just hope the reclaimed couch is not so comfortable that I neglect plants, dog and working out. All the more incentive to make all the renewed basement spaces equally inviting!


Welcome to "A Taste for Design"/Basement Project 1

Old basements present unique design challenges. I know because I have one. Mine dates back to 1917, although the main room was updated in the 1950’s to function as a “rec room”.  My basement has small windows, low ceilings, asbestos floor tile, tongue and groove knotty pine paneling (a common wall finish in the 50’s), and foundation walls that continually slough off fine sand and dust particles that permeate everything.

As a designer/homeowner this old basement represents a unique but intriguing challenge; an opportunity to create inviting basements that better utilize and stretch our living space. Our basement wish list includes a workout room and a comfortable television viewing area. We also want a more functional bathroom/laundry space, and additional storage. Areas dedicated to plant care, pet grooming, and wine storage are also part of the overall plan.

An important goal in this project is to experiment with new materials and practice “green” design whenever possible. 

If you have a home built in the teens, 20’s or 30’s perhaps you have also been stumped about how to transform your basement space so it is a beautiful and functional extension of your home. Maybe you even have a visceral reaction, like I do, when you descend the stairs into a dark and somewhat creepy basement…make your way to the laundry room over clammy-feeling floors…and look warily around for spiders that might be lurking.

If so, we are kindred spirits and I invite you to follow my basement transformation project. It might give you the courage to tackle your own basement – with the added benefit of learning from my experience. Even if you are not considering a full basement remodel but just want to make some aesthetic and/or “green” changes, you will find lots to relate to in my unfolding story. It is full of trials and tribulations, humor, inspiration and discovery.

Over the next several months I will present a series of basement design challenges and my solutions. As the blog evolves I’ll also be sharing kitchen and bath design tips and projects; inspirations from the worlds of art, ideas, and nature; new design discoveries; travel stories; and event updates. Of course, recipes and cooking stories will also play a part – as they are important in my life, and in the life of my family. Follow along and write to me (Debbie@celadondesigns.com) if you have questions or want to offer advice gained from your own experiences.