Like many Oak Park and River Forest homes, this classic home didn't really have a family room. With two teens in the house, this homeowner—a commercial designer—decided to renovate her basement from a dank storage area to a lively friendly space.
The concept was to be design forward, while incorporating items that are important to the family. So, after putting in a new sewer line, new drain tile and sump pump, new ejector pit and spray foam insulation (all the glamorous stuff), the homeowner went for an industrial vibe. The concrete floors were patched, re-coated and then polished a warm gray color. The ceiling was left open—the joists were lightly sanded to remove dirt and any old paint or staining, but the original color remained so that some joists are quite light and others are dark. General lighting was provided by track lights recessed in between the joists. Some piping was moved but the piping that couldn't be moved became part of the design. All iron (beams, conduit, ducts) was painted a dark bronzey brown, and all of the copper was polished with a mixture of vinegar and salt, then sealed with lacquer. We also made a custom lighted handrail for the stairs.
After the space was complete, the homeowner brought in some very special items including her husband's work bench re-used as the TV console. She also gave us the bowling alley flooring where she and her husband held their rehearsal dinner (the alley was being demolished, so they had rescued one of the alleys and kept the wood in the basement for years) and we were able to strip it lightly (we wanted to keep the divots and dark spots that told the story of the wood's previous life), piece it together and re-seal it for a custom countertop. A custom plaid carpet in the TV area and on the stairs, and dog wallpaper in the powder room completed this warm, homey and stylish space.
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