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A Chic Basement Update Pt. 1

We thought the best way to show you a glimpse into our design process would be to take you through an actual project, and one we're very excited about! This Utah home was remodeled with Solid Renovation Company through a series of project phases instead of tackling the large home all at once.

This client has been one of our favorites to work with over the years and for many reasons! There are some things you can do to have a great working relationship with your designer, and here are a few:

  1. Trust: Before choosing a designer to work with, interview a few, study their work, talk to them about their process, pick the one you feel the most comfortable with, and then trust them to do their job well. Sometimes this means we'll push you out of your box! The clients on this project were open minded and the elements of the design they were most unsure about ended up being some of their favorite details.

  2. Education: Great clients value quality craftsmanship, furnishings, and service. To value those things means to understand the work that goes on behind the scenes - and that comes through research and experience. If it is your first time working with a designer or contractor, talk to friends and family members about their experience, ask your designer and contractor lots of questions, try to be as up front as possible with budgetary goals so that expectations can be adjusted as needed.

  3. Reflection: The best designed spaces are typically one-of-a-kind. They are not designed or built to appeal to the masses, but for the one person, family, or business. We'd suggest you put this to the test: what are the most beautiful, well designed spaces you've seen? Whether it is a restaurant, a hotel, a friend's home, or something else - we'd be willing to bet it stands out in your mind because it was unique and personal to the people living in or using the space. Before getting started on a home project, think about how you would like to live, what are some of those little things that just make you happy, what are things that could make your everyday routines easier and more beautiful. We love to design around making every day tasks just a little bit more beautiful and effortless.

These clients were all of the above! They wanted a space that was unique and designed specifically for their family and the way they wanted to use it. So let's start at the beginning.

At our first walkthrough with the client, "heavy" was the word we kept coming back to and the original feeling of the space. Because of the dark colors in the stone floor and wall elements, the large space felt smaller. They wanted to incorporate some fun bold elements, more modern colors and materials, and make the space flow better for entertaining and games. Here are a few of the before photos taken that day.

After the initial walkthrough, there were some key decisions that needed to be made.

  • The stone. We needed to determine whether it was structurally necessary. We considered using a technique called over-grouting to lighten the color of the stone to make it feel less dated, if it would be too difficult to remove.

  • The ceiling. It wasn't cohesive - there were 3-4 different recessed areas, but at different heights and shapes.

  • The bar and kitchen. The clients weren't excited about the existing finishes in these areas, but preferred not to include this area in the remodel. However, they were worried that leaving them out would make it difficult to achieve the look they wanted in the rest of the space while keeping everything cohesive.

We went to work talking about how the clients envisioned using the space. We talked about the fact that they loved playing pool with friends, but didn't have a great seating system. We talked about the flow of guests from their pool through the basement to the guest bathroom, so they wanted to make sure the flooring could get wet. They wanted somewhere to display photos, souvenirs, and a wine collection from their travels. They had really fun ideas for the fireplace area, wanted to use fresh, interesting furniture pieces and light fixtures, and wanted bold color and contrast. Our favorite part of the process is learning about how you want to live in a space and putting the pieces together to create the most beautiful version of that.

First - we made some decisions on the key components mentioned above.

  • The contractors found that the stone was not needed for structural support, but the columns were. We decided to remove all the heavy stone and wrap the columns in decorative finishwork instead.

  • The ceiling work ended up being an easy decision after the clients had a water leak at the ceiling and were forced to repair drywall anyway. We evened out the varying ceiling levels and removed the trim molding.

  • After presenting some initial finishes that would have coordinated well with the existing kitchen and bar, the homeowners decided that the existing design in that space was holding back the remainder of the project and made the choice to include that area in the remodel.

We then had our first design meeting and presented two options: the "bold" and the "edited." You can get an idea for the subtle differences from the color boards that were presented for each option below, where the option on the left includes more saturated colors used in larger areas and the version on the right used neutrals for the larger surfaces and accent colors that are still fun, but toned down and used in fewer places.

We'll pause there for today so keep an eye out for our next post that will take you through the rest of the design process. Which design option do you think we went with? Here's a peek at a corner of the completed space!


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