Lower Level Living - Basement Renovation

You think you have a big house, until your teenagers, pets, hobbies, and active social life start to make it feel cramped.  This is the point where you think about moving, right?  
But wait, what about all that space down there.... in the basement?

It's not just for storage and hoarding great deals on detergent and paper towels.  
Especially if you have a larger home, it could be hundreds of square feet or more that are wasted.

That's what happened to my clients.  
They have a 10-year old home with a  large basement (about 1000 square feet) that was merely storing bikes, sporting equipment, and lots of boxes of stuff that was barely touched in years.  They needed more function out of all that space; more room to entertain, and for the kids to hang out with their friends.
So, they asked me to help them make the most of the space 


A full size kitchen with an island
separate dining area
 media space with a large TV
 3 piece bathroom
exercise space
a large laundry room 
a crafting space
lots and lots of storage

No problem!!  I'll have the plans to you next week (HA!)

Here's the BEFORE of the unfinished basement

I had a pretty good brief and spent lots of time getting to know my client's needs and the specifics of how they wanted to use the space.  I started off creating zones for all the activities required.  We had a couple of options for where the kitchen could be located, but all the other areas were determined based on the architecture of the home and working around the endless bulkheads, plumbing and HVAC that is a necessary evil in every home.

Here's the overall floor plan and the furniture layout I came up with.

Note:  red dots show where the lighting goes - potlights & ceiling fixtures

As you can see,  every inch of space has been allocated to this highly functional space. 

So after some new plumbing, HVAC, electrical, framing, dry walling, 
installing floors, doors, cabinetry, fixtures, tiles, lighting and paint....oh my!!  

Here's the AFTER


I designed this kitchen without upper cabinets because of the low ceilings.  I prefer to see open shelving and a beautiful back splash all the way up the wall; this one is a glass mosaic.  
There was lots of room for two open cabinets on either end of the kitchen and a very large pantry (far right) for all kinds of storage.  The island houses a dishwasher and microwave oven.

I had custom live-edge walnut shelves made to float on the tiled backsplash and along the side wall 
to add warmth and display pretty dishes and glass ware.  
White quartz counters in Calacatta Nuvo from Ceasarstone provide contrast to the espresso brown cabinets and help brighten up the space .  
Sleek grey, backless stools with chrome legs invite guests to hang out with the cook.  
Glass pendants with industrial bulbs are light and airy, adding artisan quality.

Rustic wood-look laminate floors in a warm greige tone were installed throughout.  
They are great for basements, and durable enough for teen gatherings & the family pets.


Adjacent to the kitchen is an eating area / bar hangout.  
The space between the two pillars was the perfect size for a table and created a cozy nook 
that would otherwise just have been a hallway.  

I chose a bar height table so that it could facilitate watching the TV while having a brew
 and by altering the height from the counter height of the island, 
it creates more interest and feels like a distinct "room".  

The table is reclaimed wood and the white powder-coated steel stools can be tucked away 
under the table when not in use.  
A single industrial ceiling pendant helps ground the space while adding to the pub vibe.

An overview of the kitchen and bar area from the stairs (shown below).


The main colour of the basement is Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter with a couple of accent walls in Van Deusen Blue.  Low media cabinets from Ikea were selected to create a modern, sleek design where the TV could sit on while a single side tower cabinet offers some height in the space and a contemporary look for additional storage.  The client's sofa and loveseat were reupholstered in grey/blue coordinating fabrics.  Pillows in lemon and aubergine add fun pops of colour.

The reading nook wall was given an accent colour and dedicated lighting to create it's own zone.
A large graphic area rug in light blue and cream grounds the space and makes it extra cozy.  

Only artwork still remains to be purchased.  There will be a series of black & white photographs from the client's travels framed on the large side wall (right) and a few more accessories.


This area at the bottom of the stairs houses a custom built cabinet with chunky shelves that store craft supplies and the home owner's treasured vintage books.  
A cork craft project in progress (featuring the letter T)  shown on the table below.
The wall behind the bench is painted in chalkboard paint. 

The light fixture was a vintage flea market find the client was holding on to 
until it found the perfect spot right here.  A grey tufted bench offers more storage.
Pedestal table and chairs are durable, easy for clean-up, and stylish for this hard working space.

Back wall is done in chalkboard paint - a large, vintage white frame will hang here


My client is very active and exercise is important to her.  
This space is her sanctuary for yoga and TRX training, so it also had to be ZEN, which is why 
it's the only closed off space (with double doors), other than bathroom and laundry. 
I chose a light grey wall colour, Benjamin Moore Marilyn's Dress, to coordinate with the floors.   
Built-in cabinets are finished in the same colour to keep the space feeling very calming.  
Custom built panel door covers the home's electrical panel.
Off camera on the other side of the room is a small wall-mounted TV. 


The original laundry room was located in the main floor mudroom that was the family's main entry access from the garage.  It was small, dark and always cluttered with the necessities of daily life.  So we moved it to the basement and created a large, bright hardworking room of its own.

We created a fresh, modern and highly efficient space with a quartz countertop in Frosty Carrina, large light gray porcelain tiled floors, white subway tiles above the stainless steel sink with an industrial faucet for washing the pet dog.   

The walls are painted Benjamin Moore Wedgewood Grey.
Large glass canisters hold soap and detergent keeping the counter free of bulky plastic bins.
The white organizer rack on the wall serves as the dedicated "lost sock" destination.
Stainless steel drying racks installed on the wall to the left (and off camera) make maximum use of some awkward corners.  Lots of pot lights make this space bright and super functional.   
My client actually loves doing laundry in this space now.


The floor is a wood-look porcelain tile to coordinate with the rest of the basement.
Countertop is Frosty Carrina quartz, cabinets were painted Benjamin Moore Stormy Monday
walls are BM Cement Gray.  Mosaic tile laid in 12" wide vertical pattern helps make the narrow space feel taller.

Still needs some art and a couple of bathrobe hooks on the back wall.  
The quartz-like door handles and "bubbles" mirror add a touch of whimsy
 to this modern chic space.

The bubble-glass finish of the sconces is echoed in the etched glass mirror surround.  
A sleek chrome faucet with single "joystick" handle is cool and fun!

At the end of it all my clients are using the space daily and bypass the main floor living space often to hang out on the lower level.  It's now a space that the whole family can enjoy, 
although Mom tells me that the kids have taken it over!.  

It just goes to show that the basement is an untapped goldmine when left unfinished.  
When you take the time to think about what kind of space you need for your lifestyle and invest in the design of the basement with the same care and attention that you give the rest of your home, 
lower level living can truly rise to new heights!

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