Candice Tells All: Interior decorator Candice Olson shares how she turns up the heat in a cold basement to create a fun "locker room" that has a sports-minded family cheering.
Elana and David have three twenty-something kids with very different needs. Their eldest, Laurence, is in a wheelchair, and he needs space and special consideration when it comes to interior design. The other two children are off at college, but come home often to visit. The basement rec room should be a fun place for this sports-loving family to gather, but instead the room was as cold as the unused fireplace. A mishmash of furniture and a lack of purpose translated into an abandoned and lonely space.
I came up with a plan that scored with everyone — sort of a “locker room luxe” design that had the home team cheering.
We ran into a couple of hiccups during the demolition — specifically, the uneven cement floor and the water damage we found around the fireplace. Once we corrected those problems, though, it was full speed ahead.
My design called for the creation of two distinct zones.
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The first is a TV zone, with a comfortable couch upholstered in a durable and spill-resistant indigo fabric. The couch anchors this space, and is placed directly opposite the big-screen television, which is flanked with custom adjustable shelving units. An oh-so-comfortable brown leather lounger with matching ottoman takes up residence between the TV and the new gas fireplace, still allowing plenty of room for Laurence to roll in and maneuver around.
A simple wooden-topped coffee table with sturdy legs and a sports-themed side table will accommodate lots of game-day snacks. Recessed lighting in the ceiling gives overall illumination, while two sconces flank the couch.
A beautiful nickel pendant lamp hangs over the other zone, a games-table-slash-conversation-nook with a couple of very comfy, creamy club chairs and a special adjustable table that raises enough to accommodate the arms of Laurence’s wheelchair. The wall behind the games table was covered with a bold, graphic-patterned grasscloth wall covering that has just enough texture and dimension to catch the light cast down from the recessed ceiling fixtures.
The wall covering provides a tasteful touch that the gals love. And as for the accessories, they are all about the guys and their sports! Trophies, cups and hockey pucks all found their way into this space, but with a luxurious twist. The result is a room where the family will be as comfortable sharing a pizza during a game as it will be inviting friends in for a glass of wine and a chat.
Speaking of beverages, Laurence requested a drinks dispenser in the rec room, so we installed a bar fridge in a custom built-in counter, nicely tucked away, and used blackboard paint above it to create a surface that is perfect for scorekeeping. This was custom framed with salvaged hockey sticks, which were sanded down for a little rustic twist.
I can’t forget to mention the floor. Originally, I wanted to install a durable hardwood floor that would be easy for Laurence to navigate, while strong enough to resist scuffs from the wheelchair. But the basement floor wasn’t totally level, making it impossible to install wood. So we opted instead for vinyl flooring with a very realistic wooden-plank look. It’s durable and flexible, and will stand up to many years of gaming — whether that time is measured in periods, innings, sets or quarters.
The focal point of Elana and David’s new team headquarters is the updated gas fireplace, which casts a warm and welcoming glow. It’s a far cry from that damp, disused hearth, and it definitely draws the eye. To finish it off, we covered up the old brick mantle with gorgeous new large-format Eramosa polished stone tiles.
Basement renovations can be challenging. Luckily, we hit a home run with this basement, reclaiming the rec room and creating a sports haven that is a little more sophisticated than your typical man cave. Warm colors, durable materials and accessories geared to this family’s love for games all contribute to the appeal of this space. If I were a betting person, I’d wager that everyone will be spending many happy times here for years to come.
Interior decorator Candice Olson is host of HGTV’s “Candice Tells All.” For more ideas, information and show times, visit http://www.hgtv.com/candice-tells-all/show/index.html.