Style at Home - - Decorating -

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.”

Off-Black 57 AC­CENT WALL PAINT, Far­row & Ball; ARM­CHAIR REUPHOLSTERY & RE­FIN­ISH­ING, J & J Made; con­crete SHELF, Andrew Burke; RUG, Annie Selke.

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, Al­

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.


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, Al­; 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.

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