Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Can anyone else relate to being deprived of something as a kid and then as an adult you can't get enough of it? Well, the same can be said for me and my fondness of basements...well, allow me to clarify and explain.  I grew up (mostly) in Southern California where the only basements were in crack dens in South Central Los Angeles, so when I traveled to Michigan in the summers, I loved hanging out in my relatives basements.  A finished basement was as cool as a shiny convertible in the driveway, and while my uncles decorated theirs mostly with deer busts, many basements took on a world of their own, like Narnia or Canada.  Of the several homes we've lived in so far on the east coast only one had a basement I loved (the others--old farmhouses...had some of the most frightening basements I've ever seen, so wouldn't fall under the category of "fondness for").  In the last few years I've designed several basements for clients, with the goal of NOT making them look like your typical basement.  My transformations always start with the staircase.  If the basement access is hidden from the main part of the house, I like to open it up by either removing the door and jam or part of the wall to make it feel like it's part of the rest of the house and not a strange relative hidden away for no one to see.  I then like to focus on how that staircase arrives in the basement, because we all know an entrance (at least if you're Cher) is everything!  The first two photos are a basement I designed earlier this year.  It's hard to tell in the top photo, but the staircase was located behind the wall on the left.  In removing that wall we were able to create a modern, open feel (the door in the second picture is to the storage room off the staircase.  A landing was also added to make the storage room and staircase on the same level).  This month, in a more traditional home, I've done the same by opening the lower portion of the wall and angling the staircase, which matches the staircase and banister on the main floor to the second floor.  When I initially mention these little design tweaks to clients they usually ignore me or think I'm nuts, but the final results always speak for themselves.  If I've said it once, I've said it a million times, it doesn't take a lot to make a big impression!