A beach-inspired basement reno

Sandy and Sean’s mammoth basement was a giant waste of space that was born back in the 1970s and never really grew up. The dated finishes, ornate ironwork and brick arches were sorely in need of retirement. A one-way trip to the dump was just what the designer ordered.

This spacious suburban home has it all — pool, hot tub, cabana and an absolutely massive basement perfect for entertaining the whole neighborhood. The ingredients were all there; all we had to do was create the perfect recipe to reveal the true potential of Sandy and Sean’s basement. This was one of the biggest projects we had ever tackled, but I knew that in the end it would be spectacular.

As with most basement renos, everyone in the household had a request. Sean wanted an entertainment area with a big screen TV and a games table for poker night. Sandy envisioned a bar area that would allow for effortless entertaining, and a home office space where she could get down to business. The kids were looking for a comfortable place to hang out — and above all, this cavernous space had to be conducive to quality family time.

With three — yes, count ‘em, three — patio doors leading out the pool area, I wanted to connect this basement with the gorgeous backyard just outside those doors. I was inspired by a warm, beachy color palette that included natural tones, accented by touches of soft blue, sand and creamy white.

The first step when tackling a room this big is to divide your space into workable, distinct zones. You’ve heard me say it before, but this is a really critical step that will inject warmth and functionality into cold, cavernous spaces. In Sandy and Sean’s basement, I designed five separate zones that flow seamlessly into one another. First, a modern wet bar — complete with two fridges, lots of cabinetry and shelving — is set off by unique tile that is actually made from digitally printed photos transferred onto the tile surface. This amazing technology produces real life reproductions, and in this case we selected a shabby chic pattern inspired by shipping crates. Three comfy bar stools in ivory leather with nailhead trim are parked in front of the bar, and just off to the side is a table that stands ready for Sean’s poker buddies.

Next, we move into the TV lounge, where a huge 8-by-10 foot leather sectional, again finished in nailhead trim, faces a big screen wall-mounted TV. A media console underneath holds other equipment, and a couple of cowhide benches are tucked under the console, ready to be pulled out to provide seating for large groups.

Between the TV area and the center patio doors is an intimate conversation nook, furnished with two pale linen loveseats. A gorgeous three-tiered lighting fixture is the focal point here, instantly delivering a touch of romance and intimacy to this area.

Beside the room’s third patio door, we installed a gas fireplace with a porcelain tile surround. Three custom-made round arm chairs envelop you as you sit down in front of the fire to read, or share a glass of wine.

And just off to the side is Sandy’s home office — a clean and functional space incorporating loads of storage and a view of the pool. An added bonus: one of the office bookcases conveniently hides the ultimate design buster — a five-inch wide support post that we uncovered during the demolition.

This was a monster project. We put in hours and hours of work here in Sandy and Sean’s basement, but the results are truly phenomenal. It has been transformed from a massive, cold and outdated space into a warm and welcoming beach-inspired retreat. Perfect for entertaining and equally suited for quiet family evenings at home, this basement delivers the goods when it comes to modern family comforts.

Interior decorator Candice Olson is host of HGTV’s “Candice Tells All.” For more, visit: www.hgtv.com/candice-tells-all-full-episodes/videos.


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