Female-Friendly Retreat for Dad

Candice Olson turns an outdated basement into a masculine room that the man (and the women) of the house can enjoy.


This basement makeover is off to a decent start. No mounds of storage here, but not a lot of style or function either.

Similar Topics:
  1. Basements
  2. Design 101
  3. Makeovers

Before: Outdated, Cold Basement

Neil knows a thing or two about females. He should as he lives with five of them! Neil and his wife, Lolet, live with daughter Kristina and his mother, Brenda, and two dogs (both female, of course) in their cozy, two-story house in the suburbs. Yet, while all of the feminine energy was generally a positive force in the home, Neil was feeling a bit outnumbered when it came to the decor.

Living in a house full of pink shades and delicate touches, Neil longed for a space of his own where he could get away and relax, watch sports on television and just be a man, doing manly things! He wanted to turn the home’s dingy basement (complete with dusty-rose carpeting and dog-chewed furniture) into a room with a publike atmosphere, but Lolet had other ideas. She wanted the space to be stylish and multifunctional – a room the whole family could enjoy.

So I gathered my crew together to create a masculine retreat for Neil, and to blend in some sleek and stylish touches for Lolet. No battle of the sexes here! I wanted to make a room that had something for everyone.

After: Warm, Welcoming Space For All



By tweaking the floor plan, transforming the fireplace into a divine focal point and bringing in a mix of cozy textures, Candice designs a space that is sophisticated and family-friendly.

I started by getting rid of the carpet and replacing it with walnut-toned hardwood flooring. Then I tore down the popcorn stucco ceiling, removed the room’s bulky brick fireplace hearth and painted the space in a light shade of almond.

Next, I divided the room into two main areas: a functional zone and a comfort zone. In the functional zone, I put in a gorgeous, cream-colored countertop along one wall and installed a mixture of dark wooden cabinetry above and below. I put in a small desk for use as a home office, a variety of cupboards for storage, and a small bar fridge to keep game-time beverages nice and chilly. I also put up exotic pressed leaf wallpaper that adds a punch of color and is beautifully offset by the cream counter.

In the comfort zone, I put in a big, dog-friendly, L-shaped sectional in bark brown, two green leather ottomans, a coffee table made of logs and glass, and a big area rug to bring all of the room’s colors together. Across from the sectional I put up a huge flat-screen television for Neil. I also installed a new gas fireplace flanked from floor to ceiling with sandstone tiles that have the look of rustic wood grain.

To lighten up the dark basement, I installed recessed lighting and put up some sconces behind the sofa for some extra razzle dazzle.

Lastly, I put in a whole host of accessories – a lamp, a few throw pillows, lots of artwork and some family photos – and the room was complete.

Before I got my hands on it, this basement wasn’t fit for man or woman. So I blended masculine textures with feminine touches plus a whole range of gender neutral colors, fabrics and furnishings, and I created a room that is as comfortable as it is stylish. Manly? Yes. But the women like it, too! Now that’s divine!

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