Interior designer Piper Lauri Salogga and her family turned an unused basement into a calm, efficient rental apartment with eco-friendly features, plenty of storage and unique décor.

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photographed by Mike Siegel

ONE SEATTLE family found extra cash during the recession right inside their four walls.

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Sure, it took months of planning and construction, but sustainable interior designer Piper Lauri Salogga and her family have transformed a basement they hardly used into a mother-in-law unit fit for renting out. It’s a perfect way, they say, to make extra income and foster community in their home.

“We’re in a place in our lives where we’re ready for adventure,” Salogga says as she stands in the downstairs unit. “We knew we’d do something with the basement. It took us two years of sowing our own oats in the space before we were ready.”

The family aims to attract short-term renters on vacation or in town for temporary work. Their first renter was a contract employee working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Salogga and her husband, Kent Worthington, who works in visual marketing at Nordstrom, say they bought their north Windermere home about four years ago for its potential. Built in 1963, the 2,700-square-foot rambler overlooks Warren G. Magnuson Park near Lake Washington. The family spent several years making the upstairs and yard space their own before tackling the basement.

Salogga and her family handled most of the design, purchasing, assembly and accent painting. “I love things that feel as natural as possible,” she says, explaining why she followed principles of the sustainability movement in designing the 1,150-square-foot apartment. The unit has a large front room with a fireplace, an open family room-kitchen area, a bathroom and a bedroom. Ample closet and storage space is incorporated throughout.

The design also draws on principles of feng shui, a practice that roots itself in the energy and patterns of nature, and is an element that Salogga emphasizes in her business, Natural Balance Home and Office, mostly working with clients to remodel and redesign spaces for optimal function, style and energy.

When planning her own home’s unit, Salogga mapped over the basement using a bagwa, a tool to analyze the feng shui energy in a space. Then, she chose colors, materials and arrangements for each room accordingly. For instance, the bedroom is painted with cool colors and features metal accents, making for a calm, restful atmosphere. The goal, Salogga says, is to have a living area that has a nice flow to it.

“Being organized, having good storage space, having good design — you’re already three-quarters of the way there.” Finishing the space with an intentional connection to nature helps round that out, she says.

Salogga and Worthington decided to furnish the unit, partly so they can charge more for rent, and because it makes for easier transitions between renters. Besides, Salogga says, “It feels much more settled to have it furnished.” She chose modern, simple furniture, appliances and décor from a friend’s seconds from Rosichelli/Mendoza staging, and from Kasala Outlet and Ikea.

The unit is fitted with materials and appliances that are considered green and energy-efficient, including cork floors, ENERGY STAR appliances, low-VOC paints and countertops made from 85 percent recycled content.

Construction took about 6 ½ months, and the family completed an additional soundproofing project last spring. They say they’re pleased with the final product and the investment they made to gain some extra cash for sending their 6-year-old daughter to private school. Now they hope renters will simply enjoy the place.

“In the end,” Salogga says, “you want a space that feels balanced and inviting.”

Michelle Ma is a Seattle Times online news producer. Mike Siegel is a Times staff photographer.

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