Before: Bland BasementScott and Susan Smith and their pug, Lola, have just moved into their Brooklyn Heights apartment. Its major selling point — a basement garden — is cold, gray and lifeless, a million miles away from the couple's designer dreams. Host Matt James uses a combination of handmade Tuscan terra-cotta tiles, evergreen plants, cream paint and railway ties to create a lush green hideaway that feels light and airy.
The Plan: Tuscan BasementIts overwhelming concrete walls make this chilly, gray basement garden feel more like a box than an outdoor sanctuary. Scott and Susan want a relaxing, dog-friendly space where they can entertain friends and feel comfortable letting Lola out to play. The dingy walls pose a challenge, but that's nothing a power washer, some primer and a fresh coat of paint can't fix.
After: Rustic RetreatTo soften the harsh lines of this boxy space and create a warm atmosphere, Matt incorporates rustic, natural materials with terra-cotta paving, wood patio furniture and a variety of foliage plants. The paving set at a 45-degree angle draws the eye across the space, making it appear larger than it actually is.
Using natural materials and simple, subtle plantings, Matt has transformed the dark gray basement into a relaxing retreat. A wood table with chairs provides a nice respite after a long day at the office. Low-maintenance plantings offer a variety of foliage textures and colors that surround the space. Matt carefully selected a soothing plant palette where the feathery foliage of ferns and a Japanese maple contrast nicely with the bold leaves of Ligularia and hosta. He balanced these textures with frothy Galium, trailing vinca and swordlike Iris siberica. Evergreen ivy cascades down from the overhead ledge, while the glossy variegated leaves of Euonymus japonicus 'Golden Maiden' reflects more light into the space. A fresh coat of off-white paint adds more light to the space and provides a brilliant backdrop to the array of vegetation.
All-Natural Seating and StorageRaised planters made of untreated railroad ties are set at the same 45-degree angle as the terra-cotta paving and provide additional outdoor seating and storage.
terra-cotta tiles - Arto Brick
table and chairs - Teak, Wicker & More
wrought-iron pedestal urns - A Rustic Garden
wood planters - Jamali Garden Supplies
lighting - Intermatic