Outdated TrendsLori has lived in the same cozy, suburban house all of her life. She spent her childhood and teenage years there, and now that she and her husband have purchased the home from her parents, she plans to spend even more time there as an adult.
As Lori grew and changed over the years, most of the house grew and changed with her--with the exception of the basement. While it was a hip and happening room when it was decorated in the 1970s, the room's "roller disco-platform shoes-fondue party" aura was not what Lori had in mind moving forward.
This cluttered den of darkness had danced its last hustle. It was time for a modern makeover. I gathered together my crew and told them to get down to work, and help this basement move away from its dark past and into a bright future.
The challenge was to lighten up a space that contained no natural light and make it a comfortable space where Lori and her husband could relax and entertain guests. The room had a support post in the middle that naturally divided the room. Using this to my advantage, I decided the renovation would focus on two distinct, yet complementary zones: a lounge area with a reading nook and a media space with an entertainment center.
Modern BasementTo accomplish this redesign, everything had to go (with the exception of a unique copper fireplace that Lori loved). Then I got down to basics and started the room transformation via paint--and lots of it! I used a stain-blocking primer over the existing dark paint and then applied a coat of dreamy antique cream. To give the cement floors the same bright, warm feeling as the walls, I installed a light-toned wood laminate flooring.
Next came the fabrics, furnishings and finishes to give the new light space the comfort factor it needed. I decided upon textured fabrics in an eclectic mix of contemporary and traditional: modern damask, funky geometrics, bold stripes and even some copper-tone materials to offset the fireplace.
The room's furnishings were stuck in a '70s time warp. I removed all of the dated pieces and got to work on bringing the room into the current century. In the media zone, I installed a modern platinum velvet sectional sofa with plenty of throw pillows. I brought in a comfy chair and built a functional entertainment unit with a large television and a beverage center.
In the relaxation zone, I designed a comfy reading nook and upholstered a daybed in a tactile cream fabric for added comfort. I also made Lori's antique table even better by changing it to coffee-table height.
Lighting these different zones was no easy feat, in part because the room had no natural light. I used modern, low-voltage, recessed halogen lighting throughout to draw attention away from the ceiling and toward the other parts of the room. The lounge area got an additional treatment of sconces and reading lights. I also installed creamy white curtain panels on either side of the fireplace to give the room the illusion of windows and cover up an electrical cabinet to boot.
The transition from disco to dazzling was now complete. By using luminous walls and floors, sophisticated lighting and sumptuous fabrics and finishes, I created a modern basement that will take Lori light years into the future. Now if she wants a '70s vibe, she'll have to watch Saturday Night Fever on her new big-screen TV.
(Interior decorator Candice Olson is host of Home & Garden Television's Divine Design.)