Sometimes when a new member arrives in an established household, design can help everyone assimilate to the new situation. In this case, a couple had one of the homeowner’s fathers move in with them. In order for everyone to feel like they had their own private space, the couple hired Reliance Design Build to design and construct a basement suite for them. They moved into it themselves so the elder member of the family would not have to navigate any stairs. The design includes a TV lounge, wet bar, bedroom, bathroom and laundry room as well as mechanical-storage space.
To get yourself oriented before we start moving around down here, we are standing in the TV lounge, the door to the left leads to the bedroom, the center door leads to the bathroom and the door on the right leads to the utility room.
The ceilings are just a hair shy of 8 feet high. Motamedi replaced existing ductwork with updated smaller ductwork that wasn’t such a space hog. Then she organized an aesthetically pleasing ceiling that made the ductwork’s soffits (right) fit in — this meant extending the soffit all the way around the room to create a nice recess in the center of the ceiling over the lounge area. Now the ceiling is a design asset that looks intentional. And she added another purpose for it, placing LED rope lights in the recesses above the soffits to create a lighting element. Recessed lights in the ceiling also help brighten the space.
The clients showed her their furniture before she started designing so her design would complement their style. Their tastes skew midcentury modern, so she played off that and their need for storage with a long, dark-stained maple media cabinet. This component houses their TV and sound system, and a soapstone top lets it double as a bench when they entertain.
“With the concrete floors and the walls in here, we had a lot of flat surfaces,” she says. So she added three-dimensional texture with a wall composed of reclaimed wood pieces that are different sizes and colors. The electric fireplace needed to be fireproofed, so she found a tile that matched the soapstone cabinet top for its surround.
The wet bar is just off the lounge. It has a stainless steel tile backsplash that reflects light in what would otherwise have been a dark corner. The glass-front upper cabinets with lights inside also brighten this area. It has a sink, a beverage refrigerator and room for storing bottles and glassware. The soffit above the cabinet conceals a duct.
The couple decided to move the laundry room to the basement for their convenience. The door to the left leads to the new laundry room and storage closet.
There’s another nice egress window that brings natural light into the bedroom, and more soffits house LED lights along the ceiling. A simple wall-mounted headboard with shelves takes up little space in the modestly sized room.
Another subtle layer of texture throughout the lounge, hall and bedroom is a woven wallpaper on all of the walls. It helps soundproof the basement.
The bathroom is just 7 feet by 7½ feet and receives no natural light, so making it feel open and bright was a challenge. “The bathroom needed to be a comfortable, clean space,” Motamedi says.
To address this, she used several strategies: