Basement Renovation Transforms a Cold Space Into a Warm Family Room

See the before and after photos from another amazing Candice Olson basement makeover, and get tips on how to turn your home's lowest level into a welcoming place to gather.


This cold basement is far from functional. 

This cold basement is far from functional. 

After years of traveling, Ginny and Oleg have finally put down some roots and bought their first home. They and their two young children, Nicholas and Anya, are thrilled to be in a nice neighborhood, with a good school nearby and plenty of green space. The couple is determined to be full-time parents in their new home, even though they have hectic work schedules and are not generally home at the same time. You see, Oleg works days in neurology at the hospital, while Ginny works nights as an ICU nurse, which doesn’t leave a lot time for togetherness during the week.

Needless to say, they all look forward to the weekend, when they can squeeze in some much-needed family time. The problem was that the one room in their house that could be a great family room was a cold, dark and uninviting basement. In fact, the space was so scary, the kids wouldn’t even go down there alone. Ginny and Oleg really wanted a comfortable and welcoming place in which to spend their precious family time together, reading stories, watching moves and playing games. I grabbed my crew and got ready to turn this frightful family room into a divine design.


Candice turned a cold, dark basement into a welcoming space by adding warm colors and lighting, a mix of textures and cozy carpet atop radiant floor heat.

Candice turned a cold, dark basement into a welcoming space by adding warm colors and lighting, a mix of textures and cozy carpet atop radiant floor heat.

Of course, the perfect antidote to dark, cold and creepy, is light, warm and cozy. So this whole project was about taking one very cold room and wrapping it in layers of warmth. To do that, I started by putting up walls around the furnace room, and finishing off the ceilings. I then covered the walls from top to bottom with rich, welcoming hues – a few creamy walls; a few buttery walls; a few walls in rust grass cloth wallpaper; and one feature wall in a gorgeous chocolate, butterscotch and sage floral pattern.

To warm up the cold concrete floors, I installed radiant heating below a new cream-colored berber carpet that is as hardwearing as it is beautiful.

I then divided the room into two functional areas: a living area and a games area. In the living area, along the feature wall, I put up a whole wall of upper and base cabinetry made of dark, rich wood. In the center, it I put in a big-screen television, which is situated across from a new large, deep L-shaped sectional in sage linen with tons of textured pillows in rust, gold and cream.

I sectioned off this part of the room with a dark wood, mirror-topped storage cabinet which I arranged just behind the sofa. On the other side of the cabinet I created a little games nook where I installed a beautiful dark wood table, a few creamy chairs and a storage console. Above the table I hung a stunning chandelier that helps to create a great first impression of the room as you walk down the stairs.

To further lighten up the windowless space, I put up recessed lighting, installed some track lighting behind a bulkhead and put up some mirror-backed sconces that reflect light into the room.

Lastly, I decided on an eclectic mix of accessories – artwork, vases, candles and pillows – to finish off the space.

This room was suffering from a bad case of cold and creepy. So I prescribed warmth and light therapy and turned it into a happy, healthy place for rest, relaxation and family time. Now that’s divine!

To see where Candice shopped for this episode, you can find the resource guide at

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