LIFE BELOW GROUND HAS ITS CHALLENGES.
Anyone with a cellar knows that. Damp air, uneven floors and less-than-pretty pipes are just the beginning. “When it comes to basements, people seem to fall into two categories – those who ignore them completely, and those who cram them full of storage,” says designer and homeowner Christine Dovey. Christine confesses she fell into the latter group, but wanted to make a change when she set about reclaiming and redesigning her Oakville, Ont., basement. “Eighty percent of the space was filled with junk,” she says.
For Christine, the big cleanup was born of necessity. She and her husband, Ian, have four active kids – three of them under the age of 11 – and both work from their
2,200-square-foot (not including the basement) home. “My desk was the bed, and his was the kitchen table,” she says.
Renovating the 1,100-square-foot basement would lend lots more living space, creating extra room for work and play. It just made sense. “I decided to do it as part of a six-week design challenge,” says Christine. “But I quickly regretted the decision of working on such a tight timeline. What in the world was I thinking?!”
The reno required creative solutions to tricky architectural challenges. For example, the basement’s supporting walls divided it into a series of small, awkward “rooms.” Some of these areas were elevated, requiring steps to reach them. Others had a less-than-pleasing view of what Christine calls “the guts of the deck.” Yet it was precisely these quirks that, in the end, resulted in two super-cool elevated
lounge areas, a cozy fireplace nook, an intimate gallery-like dining area and even a secret playroom. Using layers of neutral-toned textures and pattern alongside a mix of Mid-Century Modern, contemporary and downright eclectic furnishings gives this below-ground space first-floor-worthy appeal.
“I’ve never worked so hard in my life,” says Christine with a laugh. “I was DIY-ing my heart out! I assembled so much furniture, I needed bandages on my hands when it was all done.” But now the family spends almost all their down time here. “Let’s face it. Nobody ever wants to go to the basement,” explains the designer. “But when you give it a voice, it becomes a destination.”
BELOW Though the fireplace is electric, firewood nestled beneath lends homey appeal, while the dark-painted nook adds drama.
DINING TABLE, DINING CHAIRS, LOUNGE CHAIR, Rove Concepts; DRAPERY, Hollie Cooper Interiors; TRACK LIGHTING, Bellacor; FLORAL ARRANGEMENT, Coyote Flowers; brown TOSS CUSHION, AllModern.com.
DOORS, Metrie; custom WALLPAPER, DRAPERY FABRIC, Drop It Modern; TRIM, Fringe Market; hexagonal SIDE TABLE, AllModern. com; BOLSTER, rust TOSS CUSHION & LUMBAR CUSHION SEWING, Hollie Cooper Interiors.
ABOVE & RIGHT
The family’s hangout space gives way to Christine’s elevated “lady lounge” via two stately doors and up a couple of steps – it’s a lovely trip to a luxe destination. Christine refers to this daybed as her proudest DIY moment. “I glued fringe onto a pine box, then plunked this tufted mattress on top,” she explains. The glass-topped hexagonal table contrasts with the old-fashioned floral wallpaper and matching drapery.
WALLPAPER, St Giles Blue 280 SIDEBOARD PAINT, Farrow & Ball; SLIPPER CHAIR, Vern + Vera; SLIPPER CHAIR REUPHOLSTERY, J & J Made; SIDEBOARD FABRICATION, Allen Dawson; pine CABINETRY, SIDE TABLES, PAPER DISPENSER, IKEA; SCONCE, AllModern.com; CARPETING, Alexanian Carpet & Flooring; PRINTS (on pine cabinets), Nicole Cohen; PRINT (above sofa), Mimosa Lane; ARTWORK (above sideboard), Anewall; army WALL HANGING, Morba; LUMBAR CUSHION, floral TOSS CUSHION, Arianna Belle; mushroom SCULPTURES, stuffed DEER, Elte; lidded BASKET, Canadian Tire.
THIS PAGE & OPPOSITE The hidden playroom is a wonderland. Wrapped in striped wallpaper with fresh features like a custom geometricdoor sideboard, the room has an eclectic kaleidoscopic vibe. Fun kid-friendly details include a vintage typeface holder that houses one kid’s rock collection, a durable beanbag sofa and a rattan armchair fitted with a zany seat made of stuffed animals attached to its frame with zip ties. The regal landscape painting above the sideboard showcases Christine’s signature contrast of formal and playful.