Client work: Bright Basement Family Room

Late last year I finished a beautiful family room basement project with clients that have since become cherished friends. This family of 3 has a new-build home with a finished basement that was underutilized - it had essentially become a dumping zone for all of the furniture and stuff they didn't know what to do with. This was a shame because the basement is a big open space with lots of natural light, it's the gateway to their backyard hot tub where they entertain, and it's the perfect space for them to hang out all together watching TV, playing games or reading - which they now do a lot! 

new build basement open plan family room
bright basement family room

We started by taking inventory of the many stunning vintage pieces of furniture the owner had collected over the years. She had so much that she couldn't figure out where to use them all and so were not being displayed and enjoyed. We determined that they needed to purchase only two new things: a large comfy sectional sofa to encourage family together-time, and a large area rug to anchor it in the large space.

I went to work creating a floor plan so we would be able set up zones - the central one for TV viewing and lounging, one for reading and desk work, one for crafting and playing board and computer games with their daughter, and one for an entry/exit zone to the hot tub. 

Then we created a mood board that captured the look and feel they were going for, starting from a beautiful paisley-patterned ottoman she already had and incorporating their existing light laminate wood flooring. 


open floor plan basement family room and play room
warm white basement family room mood board

The walls were then painted an off white to brighten things up from the beige-brown they were. We used CIL Marhsmallow which really let the light bounce around. 

new-build family room basement
built-in bookshelves and mantle around fireplace

They decided that the space looked so great they would splurge on a gas fireplace with built-in bookshelves along one empty wall. It's amazing and completely transforms the room, as well as makes it comfy all winter long. 

From there all we needed to do was put the furniture in place as per the floor plan, and get creative with using vintage artwork and antique sculptural pieces (like this fireplace grate!) on the mantle and walls. 

She kept on bringing me collections of beautiful vintage things she had picked up and were sitting in her storage room, so we used them to display on bookshelves and the roll-top desk. It's so important to display things that have meaning and make you smile when you see them! And grouping them together keeps the space from feeling too crowded and cluttered.  

Natural items also lend warmth and a peacefulness to the room, including fresh flowers and birch branches in vases, green plants, and lots of sea shells and driftwood. 

We also brought function into play - an antique coat hanger was hung low by the door for wet towel hanging when coming in from the hot tub. A slice of maple wood is used as a coaster for setting down wine glasses when coming in and out, and a cedar stump stool provides a spot to sit or to put up a foot while taking shoes on and off. 

vintage fireplace grate as artwork
display collections of found objects together in a vintage tray
group collections together in glass jars
antique rack for hanging towels
cedar stump stool at entryway provides function and natural interest
display collections and bring in touches of nature
new basement family room using antique furniture
bookshelf styling using natural and vintage collections

The way to make sure that a big open white-walled space like this doesn't feel cold or empty is to add texture, warm natural materials, and fun bits of personal style. The large jute rug from Overstock, colourful throws and pillows, and artwork made by their daughter helped achieve a space that's cozy, inviting and playful. 

craft table in open plan family room

Finally, we made sure to have enough task and ambient lighting (in addition to the ceiling pot lights) so that it would also functional and inviting in the evening as well. Two thrift store lamps beautifully grace the large bureau at the entry, and a small task lamp sits on the craft/game table. Two other vintage lamps are in the reading and desk zone, a battery-powered lamp is on a trunk behind the sofa, and the built-in bookshelves have puck lighting. 

a light, bright, and warm basement family room
craft and game table in family room
comfy reading and desk zone in large family room

The family is so pleased with the space and use it all the time now. I was most touched by the home owner telling me how grateful she is to have all of her antique furniture and collectibles, many of which are family heirlooms, out being used and seen every day. It makes her smile, and that makes me smile. 

before and after open plan basement family room

The cat seems to love it too. 

pets on furniture

If you're trying to figure out how to create a functional and inviting space in your home, take a look at this post on The Secret to Creating a Beautiful and Happy Home

And if you need a little more help, give me a shout. I'd be happy to give you a little coaching or a full e-fresh redesign.