Some things in life are worth waiting for. And for one Bolingbrook family, their dream basement was one of them. For more than a decade, these homeowners had planned their dream basement; and with this goal mind, bought a home with a large, unfinished basement. After years of planning and six months of basement finishing, their wait is over and the entertaining can begin.
- Bar – Check
- Billiards – Check.
- Big screen – Check.
- Bedroom – Check.
- Full bath – Check.
Not only does this basement in the western suburbs incorporate many of the elements homeowners want in a basement, but it does so with warmth and style.
The rich wood tones, subtle details, and neutral palette reflect transitional design, while the sizable wood built-ins and natural stone evoke a rustic, almost pub-like atmosphere. It’s beautiful and functional, but most importantly, it’s comfortable. There are multiple areas to entertain, but each area is open to the next, creating an easy flow for entertaining.
Fireplace and Entertainment Unit
The go-to place to relax, of course, is the couch and the focal point if your sitting on it is the fireplace and entertainment unit. Rich in tone, simple in design, the fireplace is a balance of warm, rich wood and cool stone. The fireplace and entertainment unit highlight the beauty of the wood. From floor to ceiling and stretching several feet wide, this beautiful built-in is a prominent display of custom millwork and the rich wood tones that anchor the entire space with warmth.
The fireplace surround, together with the fireplace itself, are essentially transitional, with a rustic accent in the ledger stone. The fireplace is sleek, a small, unadorned rectangle, bordered by stacked rectangle stones. It’s the unpolished surface of these stones that lends a rustic, more natural element to the surround. The wood is minimally crafted. No panels above the mantel or on the posts that frame it. The most detail is on the crown molding and the mantel itself.
Complementing these small traditional details is the decor atop the mantel. Carved pillar candle holders, model sailboat, complete with a sepia-toned map. It all balances beautifully while the neighboring big screen TV sits quietly surrounded by equally transitional built-ins. Cabinets below the TV provide storage. Shelves on the side of the TV are a natural home for a collection of audio-visual components. It’s simple and functional and does not outshine the fireplace, which easily draws the eye with the ledger stone that contrasts the wood both in color and texture.
Multiple Seating Areas
Behind the couch is a small counter, under which are perched three bar stools. Not only does this create a natural separation between the bar and living area, but the pillars on either side, with recessed panels and crown molding, provide handsome cover to the support beams underneath. The opening in between the beams allows for seamless sight lines throughout the basement and free flow of conversation. These seats are a perfect place to pause during a pool game or for overflow seating to watch a big game on the big screen.
Adjacent to this small seating area is a custom bar. This gathering area invites guests to pony up and enjoy a drink while they watch the big screen or a pool game between friends. It’s an in-home pub, just as the homeowner envisioned.
Still, one more area enables guests and homeowners to gather. Next to the pool table is a bar-height table, suitable for snacks, card games, board games and more. Additional cabinets nearby contain necessities that can’t fit at the bar. Snacks, dinnerware, flatware, board games, and anything else that you could think to use in this area. The cool granite countertop ties in with the colors of the ledger stone, another natural contrast to the warmth of the wood.
A Surprising Focal Point
Mechanicals can be hard to work around when designing a comfortable basement. While the motors that keep your home humming are essential to your comfort, they are not visually appealing, and most of the time the walls that surround these machines are simply covered in drywall, painted and considered done. As long as the noise made in that room is muted, and technicians can get in and out of the room as needed, the mechanical room and its walls are pure function–form is forgotten. Most homeowners want to move on to the more exciting elements of the design, like a built-in entertainment unit, a bar or beautiful shelving and storage options.
In this basement, we took a different approach. We made the walls of the mechanical room a visual highlight. Rather than putting up plain drywall, we stacked ledger stone on the surrounding walls and installed two double-panel doors. Not only did we encase the mechanicals into this feature, but we also surrounded two structural posts as well. The varied cool tones and hints of brown in the ledger stone both match and complement the wood doors and floors. Its texture adds visual interest to the mostly smooth surfaces in the rest of the basement. The stacked stone transforms what would have merely been a box of drywall in the middle of a basement to a structural focal point.
Not only is the floor beautiful, it will be easy to maintain. It’s actually a woodblock vinyl. No sanding and restaining in the future. Unlike wood, vinyl flooring is impervious to scratches and dents. It’s perfect for heavy traffic and major entertaining. The homeowners also chose to upgrade the subfloor. Underneath the vinyl is a product called DRIcore®. This product purports to create positive airflow to keep basements warmer and drier. It can also raise temperatures of finished flooring by six degrees—pretty nice touch on this hard surface basement floor.
Just a couple of shades lighter than the cabinets, the floor brightens the space and warms it at the same time. It stretches across the large basement, creating continuity in the space and maintaining an open feel.
The tray ceilings add an unexpected bit of elegance to the basement and another architectural feature. They also add additional warmth to the basement–the inside of the “tray” is painted the same color as the wall, rather than a standard ceiling white, which is often stark and cold. The tan on the ceiling also visually balances the brown on the floors.