Expanding the finished basement’s comfort and utility
The basement’s original design sought to extend the indoor/outdoor entertaining potential by connecting the outdoor pool area with a wrap-around bar inside. Although the bar’s funky retro look contributed to a sense of fun, its bulk ate up floor space and ultimately limited its possibilities for gatherings. We replaced it with high, bistro-style seating and a simplified wet bar with a mercury glass mirrored wall and spacious storage cabinets that pop with a bright, vintage green.
Off the bar was a full bath with a shower most likely intended for swimmers to use between dips in the pool — but we never used it. However, we knew we’d be spending significant time on the ground floor, so we converted the full bath to a half-bath to prevent us from having to run upstairs. Rather than turn the remaining space into a closet, we decided to install a sauna to use after exercising.
We love the results! We incorporated vintage touches, such as the etched glass sauna door, the brushed brass fixtures on the free-standing drop sink and a mirror and light fixture with a mid-century vibe. But our favorite design element is the custom wallpaper by Walter Knabe. We’d admired his work in several of our clients’ homes and fell in love with a textile sample in his studio — so he made it into a wallpaper for us and even signed it after it was installed. It’s the kind of personal touch we strive to bring to our clients’ renovations, and it makes our half-bath truly and uniquely a reflection of our personal style.
On the other side of the bar area a fireplace divided a sitting room overlooking the pool from the original office space. Since we not only share office space but also spend a lot of time in it, we decided to flip the two spaces, making the larger lounge space into our office and converting the old office into an exercise room.
As we did with the first floor above, we unified the whole lower level with hardwood flooring and installed two floating desks with a central island in the new office. We each have our own desk, but the island allows us to spread out for looking at renovation plans or doing year-end paperwork. We covered the entire wall facing our desks in cork, which gives the room a warm, organic feel. Near the top of the cork wall stretches a single shelf of natural cedar, and a bookshelf anchors Deanna’s side of the desk. We were able to simplify the space, removing a wall of unneeded cabinetry for an uncluttered look. A smooth, nearly seamless slab of porcelain treated to resemble rustic metal cleanly and beautifully ties the work surfaces together. The natural light from the large windows allows us to connect with the outdoors (and sometimes tempts us to take a midday swim).
The smaller of the two spaces became our exercise room, and it’s the perfect size for doing yoga or pilates before starting our day. We built out the original concrete fireplace to help keep both the office and the exercise room cozy.
Bringing new life (and whimsy) to the original design details
As with any of the renovations we do for our clients, our home’s magic is in the small details that mark it with our sense of style. We had fun getting playful with shape and texture and materials, carefully preserving or repairing original design elements where they added character or interest but boldly reshaping the overall construction and design to suit our needs.
We loved the weight and textures of the original limestone fireplace with its mahogany surround and cabinetry, which acts as our living room’s focal point. We not only had the existing installation restored, but we also found a brilliant craftsman to recreate and extend the mahogany trim to match the 1959 original woodwork.
We also kept the quirky, sculptural “circle walls” that delineate the basement spaces without completely enclosing them. However, the one in the exercise room was damaged and full of nail holes, so artist Blice Edwards created a custom mural that not only disguises the blemishes but also reflects the way we use the space for yoga and meditation.
And even some of the smallest details enjoyed a little upcycling to give a distinctive nod to our home’s beginnings. For instance, we incorporated an old structural beam into the kitchen island, along with a few vintage bottle openers and a purse hook.
Looking at it today, you wouldn’t suspect our home had been born in a barn — although we think the beauty and originality that earned it the spotlight as the 1959 Home Show Model Home shines through, both in what we preserved and what we reshaped for our lifestyle. It’s the kind of dream home project we love helping our clients realize as we did for ourselves.