W&D Renovates: From Basement to Family Room

This post is part of a series called W&D Renovates. We’ll walk you through the ups and downs of our First Floor & Basement renovation project with McDonald Remodeling. Look for the series to continue through the end of 2016 and into 2017! 

Welcome to the most important part of our remodel. It’s not the most glamorous part of our home, but it’s the part of our remodel that turned this house into our home. It’s the design decision that made this 1,500 sq ft home more than enough space for our growing family.

The more time we spent living in here, the more we realized our 1925 English Tudor was custom built for more “formal” entertaining, despite its small footprint. The living room is long and narrow, designed for smaller clusters of seating in front of the fireplace and near two sets of iron windows. It wasn’t designed for modern living, which really does require a “family room” for watching TV, playing with toys, or letting the dog run loose. McDonald Remodeling played a key role in figuring out how to transform the layout of our basement to make it work as the hub of our home.

When we moved in, the room was divided into four small rooms. Our mechanical equipment, which was in excellent shape, was taking up a lot of valuable space. We had a large rec space and while the ceilings were high, pipes make the space feel small and cave-like.


Here are some super glamorous before photos:


After walking through the space with McDonald, we identified our top priorities:

  1. Opening up the wall between the Rec Room and Laundry Room. This required a lot of structural work, including a steel beam that ran across the space.
  2. Consolidating our mechanical equipment and move our laundry room. This work would maximize our living space.
  3. Adding a bathroom. While storage is always a premium, there was a lot of value in adding a full bathroom in the basement. With a plumbing line already in place, it was identified the perfect spot for it.
  4. Making it pretty. Basements can be a bit of a design drag. Jim saw a diamond waiting to be polished in our staircase, and we found the nook beneath our staircase to be the perfect place to reuse the cabinets from the main floor.

This is what the layout looks like now:



And here are the after photos!


The ceilings are the single reason the basement feels more like a family room and less like a basement rec area. If you are considering a basement remodel, it’s worth the spend to hide all the pipes!! We added a big leather sectional from Article down here for lounging. Lots of floor pillows make the space cozy and inviting.


Here’s a detail shot of the staircase. It’s one of my favorite design features in the entire house. A reminder to think about how you can retool what already exists in the house!


Here’s a detail shot of the cabinets from our original kitchen. We had them painted white and added a white oak countertop and simple faucet from Delta Faucet.


Another way we made this space feel more inviting was adding a gas fireplace. The rest of the house was designed to pay homage to the home’s original design features, but the basement needed something clean and modern to make it feel light and inviting. You can read all about our decision to go with Heat & Glo here.


The basement kitchenette acts as extra storage and a mini buffet when we have family over for pizza and movies.


For more storage solutions, we built this Ikea unit for our entertainment center. It almost feels custom!

What you don’t see here is the drain tile and sump pump we added. If you’re going to invest in finishing the basement, I’d recommend going the extra mile to protect that investment. If you have any additional questions about this portion of the project, please comment below!

Images courtesy of 2nd Truth Photography

Decor Sources: Sven Sectional by Article, Marble Top Table — West Elm (Similar),  Blu Dot – Toro Chair, Blu Dot – Strut Coffee Table, People I Loved – Wink Wink Pillows, Ikea – Entertainment Unit, Artwork by Tappan Collective, Candle Holder from Unison (similar), Schoolhouse Electric Candle Holders,