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Monday, November 30, 2009

The Saga of a Basement

1956 basement fun
Originally uploaded by 50s Pam
Basements have always fascinated me. On summer vacations up to Eastern Oregon, I was very envious of my Oregonian friends and their cool basements. They were the ultimate hang-out places for us teens and a great barrier from the parents upstairs. One friend's basement had a pinball machine and access to HBO with 3 sofas to lounge on. Another had the best in 1980's Atari videogames and the latest New Wave records on their stereo system. Back home in Central California, no one had basements. Just row after row of 1960's and 70's one story tract homes. Fast forward to the year 2000. In the midst of relocating to the Oakland Hills after 12 years in San Jose, I stumble on the most exciting aspect of all in the unique open homes we tour. Basements! So many homes here seem to have them ! The real estate agents love to call them Rumpus Rooms and I keep imagining some swinging 1950's version of a basement. We soon buy our dream bungalow right next to Montclair Village; A 1949 4 bedroom/3 bath cottage built by the architect/former owner of the home. We are only the second owners and soon I have visions for the small half basement attached to the downstairs bedroom and bath. It was once the owner's wood working shop and is very rough. Luckily, there are no flooding or leaking issues and I start to imagine the possibilities. Baby #2 arrives shortly after we move in and slowly over the next 9 years, the basement haphazardly evolves. Cabinets are painted and then pulled out in later years, doors removed, but lack of vision and time keeps our little basement looking ignored. Prior to my career in color, I made the error many people make with basements by assuming that very light color is the way to lighten and brighten such a room. Wrong! We painted a warmer white over the rough wood and cement walls and lived with it for many years. The poor basement was hardly every used for anything but storage. It felt cold and unfriendly.

Now faced with 2 rapidly growing boys and their entourage of buddies, the house is feeling smaller than ever upstairs. We decided last year to recapture this space and use it as a media room. Time for the white to go! In it's place I decided on a delicious caramel(Benjamin Moore's Autumn Bronze 2162-10) while my husband made the bold suggestion of a deep purple (Benjamin Moore-Tulsa Twilight 2070-10) on the exposed ceiling to hide all the functioning pipe and ductwork while adding a luminous, edgy element we didn't feel a deep neutral like black could bring in. The basement instantly felt warm and inviting! My worries that the deep color would absorb too much light were unfounded. The basement budget is tight and work progresses slowly. We've added an IKEA full wall system while still having storage behind the system. Felt Flor tiles from CB2 in gray made a nice, easy addition over the cement floor and a projection system makes movies and videogames come alive. Next stop is new lighting, seating and a kitchenette to replace the old utility sink that we ripped out. Stay tuned, it's still a diamond in the rough!

More wonderful basement ideas I love!

Candace Olsen
Yes! A non-white ceiling!


Burton Walsh Interiors


Unknown said...

what an amazing transformation. i know basements are kinda hard to photograph, but i can already see the difference. i love the purple ceiling- brilliant.