Yolande and Huy have gone from one extreme to the other. After years of living in a tiny apartment in New York City, a great job offer enticed the couple and their two young daughters north of the border and into a great big house. However, while they were thrilled with their new home, all of the newfound space had them feeling a bit small.
Their basement, where they spent most of their time, was bigger than their whole apartment in the Big Apple. But while the chilly room was tall on space, it was short on style. Huy, who grew up in Denmark, wanted the basement to reflect a clean, modern Scandinavian design. And they both wanted a place the whole family could enjoy — a room where Yolande could do her sewing, the kids could play games, and they could all watch television together.
So I grabbed my team and got set to turn Yolande and Huy's icy warehouse of a room into a warm, inviting family room.
The basement was already finished, complete with high ceilings and hardwood floors, so no real structural work was needed. I started by putting up a creamy coat of paint and then divided the room into three functional areas: a lounge area, a work area and a play area.
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In the lounge area, I created a showstopping feature wall with a new gas fireplace. The modern arrangement boasts a long, linear gas insert and a massive surround of gray-and-white-marble mosaic tiles. Not only is it eye-catching, it brings much-needed warmth into the cold space. I then flanked the fireplace with a custom-built cabinetry unit that holds a big-screen television, other media equipment, books and some display items.
I put a huge, modern, linen-colored sectional in this area that lends itself to great fireplace viewing and TV watching. I then punched up the color quotient with throw pillows in various configurations of yellows, blues and greens. To finish things off, I put in a coffee table, a few side tables and an area rug with a heated underpad.
I turned the wall adjoining the feature wall into a work area. I installed a long quartz countertop that serves as a desk, installed lots of storage and put up a pin board in a dreamy blue fabric. I then added beautiful wood blinds to the windows above the countertop and put up stunning drapery on the French doors.
In the play area, I put in a rounded table that is perfect for Yolande's sewing or the kids' crafts and games. Above this area, I put up a fun and funky light fixture in a woven, kid-proof fabric. I then installed an entire wall of custom cabinetry that looks like a series of cubbyholes and will keep the kid clutter hidden. This wall also boasts wallpaper in a large-scale lattice pattern that acts as a subtle backdrop to the cabinetry.
After some final touches — including lamps, pictures, artwork and plants — the basement was ready for the whole family.
By turning up the heat — artistically and literally — I turned this once-cold and -cavernous basement into a warm, contemporary retreat that suits Yolande and Huy's new life and their old New York state of mind. Now that's divine!