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Cozy, Neutral Basement Makeover

Designer Candice Olson makes room for a rock band, family game night and a wet bar in this earthy, contemporary basement.

Sarah-Grace's family has been through a lot. Six years ago, the youngest member of her family, Meagan, succumbed to cancer. In spite of the emotional upheaval, her mother Denise found the motivation to create something positive out of the devastating loss. With the support of her husband Kevin, she created a foundation called Meagan's Walk in memory of her daughter. The organization has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for research and the care of children suffering from cancer and stages an organized 5K walk each Mother's Day.

Sarah-Grace has watched her mother give tirelessly to others for the past several years and decided it was time to give something back to her. She knew Denise would love a really cozy family room, so she wrote me a letter asking me to turn their sadly neglected basement into a comfortable spot in which they could hang out with friends, play their instruments (Sarah-Grace plays drums and her brother Matthew is in a rock band) and spend quality time together.

The room needed a total overhaul. I started by choosing a palette of cozy, earthy colors: green, teal, brown and tan. I then painted the room in a neutral shade. The room had uneven floors, so I put down new thick vinyl tiles which level things off and add the warm look of real wood.

Next, I divided the room into three zones: a relaxation zone, a music zone and a wet bar zone.

In the relaxation zone, I made the fireplace the focal point. I painted the brick on the lower half in a creamy shade and fitted the upper half with a wood over-mantle which holds a new plasma screen TV. Flanking both sides of the fireplace are new silky green drapes. I then created lots of seating with two gorgeous dark brown leather couches and a big cream-colored ottoman — and lots of punchy throw pillows in pumpkin and teal accents.

In the music zone, I put up a long wall of storage components next to the basement door that is perfect for coats, hats and school bags. To conceal this area, I hung a modern, linen drape in a flocked chocolate brown pattern which doubles as a backdrop for the kids' band instruments. I then created a little band stage and covered it in multi-colored carpet tiles. Next to the jamming stage I put in a small games (or homework?) table and chairs and backed the family's existing wood bookcase with mirrors.

I created two wall panels with three shades (brown, tan and cream) of grasscloth wallpaper that flank the entrance to a new wet bar area. The wet bar features a lively backsplash in blues and greens, a new counter and a drop-in sink with a joystick faucet.

To lighten the space, I replaced the room's recessed lighting with new halogen tracks. For some added pizzazz, I hung a gorgeous, multi-layered teal glass pendant over the game table. After some final accents and accessories, including a cool area rug and some colourful artwork, this room was complete.

By creating different zones for different needs, adding hardwearing furniture and flooring, and topping it off with vibrant accents and details, this basement got an injection of style the whole family can enjoy. And it's the perfect gift for Denise, a woman who just keeps on giving. Now that's divine.

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