Basement Remodel Combines Asian and Midcentury-Modern Design

Geometric details and retrofitted furnishings bring this updated basement to life.
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November 25, 2014

Sentimental Updates

Retired decorator Ruth Shacter set out to have her basement updated as a guest retreat. Since her late husband, Jack, put so much effort into building the modern space, Ruth was excited to breathe new life into it with the same style they loved so much. A collection of Asian prints, purchased by the couple while living in Japan in the 1950s, hangs in her remodeled basement living room.

Ancient Origins

In its existing state, Ruth's basement hadn't been updated since 1960. In order to make it bright and welcoming, she wanted to paint it dove gray, then add high-energy contrast with accents of red.

Mixing It Up

The main structural change to Ruth's basement was to rework the stairwell wall by opening it, and integrating a cocktail serving station. Below the serving area is a set of cubbies with woven wooden baskets to hold cloth napkins and drink coasters.

Stairway to Style

To add organic, modern flair to the staircase, the stairs were covered in a brown-gray textural sisal. The nubby texture offers a nonslip surface for guests descending into the basement.

Office Desk On Display

Since Ruth's late husband was attached to his hardy 1950s oak desk, she was adamant about keeping it in the space after the remodel. To give it a modern update, she had it sanded, primed and then sprayed with high-gloss charcoal lacquer. In order to keep the area well-lit, a junction box was added and a custom drum pendant was hung with the bottom 38 inches above the desktop.

Easy-to-Install Flooring

To give the FLOR tiles a parquet look, each tile was rotated 25 degrees, resulting in the mohair-like fibers lying in different directions.

Gray, Red and Retro

The guest bedroom features a pair of Regency-style twin beds belonging to the couple. Set against a dove-gray backdrop, the beds topped with Chinese chinoiserie pillows truly pop.

Mirror, Mirror

A wall-mounted mirror was updated with trim attached directly to the front with liquid bonding adhesive, creating a midcentury-modern geometric pattern.

Ceiling Appeal

After realizing the high costs of replacing the basement's drop-down grid ceiling with drywall, Ruth instead decided to replace the stained mineral-fiber ceiling tiles with designer-grade ceiling tiles, complete with recessed paneling detail.

Artful Pieces

A glossy red Hollywood Regency-style dresser is topped by an industrial factory fan and an original piece of pop art by Yvonne Miller, depicting a 1960s Chinese housewife.

Savvy Window Treatments

Custom Texton blinds help diffuse light while also adding a textural design element to the space. The back of the blinds are thermal-lined which helps to block the harsh summer heat and to buffer cold air during the winter.

Loving Statements

To make the most of the wall in the bedroom, a chrome-and-glass console table with red-and-white Saarinen tulip chairs were added. A pair of Chinese lamps bought with Jack in the 1950s keeps the space illuminated while a pair of portraits of the couple hangs above.

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