“Basements are just scary to remodel. There are unwanted little surprises around every corner, it seems,” quipped interior designer Annie Wise, founder of her namesake firm. Basements tend to be some of our most neglected areas in our home: often cold, dark, and not a place to gather. However, the homeowners of this house – a young and hip family of five – had other plans.

They had been steadily renovating their home for the last four and a half years,” the designer explained, “two bathrooms were completely remodeled as well as the kitchen. The 800 square-foot basement was the last area of their house to transform. The family had done what they could to make it habitable but it was still an unfinished basement.” Exposed pipes, small windows, and typical basement concrete floors made it a space that was less than ideal. There were a couple of things, though, that it had going for it: an open floor plan and an original brick fireplace.

Thankfully it was enough to turn this space into the dream hangout area for the whole family. “’Modern, white, bright, clean while being inviting, cozy and creative’ were the descriptive words they gave us for how they wanted their space to feel,” she said. “Besides a lounge area, they wanted to include a guest bedroom, a full bathroom with shower, kitchenette, storage, and laundry room.” Annie thus had to reconfigure the 800 square-foot space to allow for these different utilities.

“Ideally, the bathroom would have been totally relocated but we knew this would be invasive and costly to achieve,” Annie shared. “It took a little out-of-the-box brainstorming to solve this dilemma. We determined that by rotating the toilet, we would be able to not only use the existing plumbing stack but would now be able to reconfigure walls and a new entry to the bathroom. A kitchenette was created from the bath’s original location, comfortably accessible from the new family room.” Riffing off of the family’s low-key eclectic style she included matte white and black hex tile with a smiley-face motif to add a fun unexpected element. “It makes us so happy every time we see it,” she mused.

As for the decor, the homeowners already had a few stand out pieces including a yellow hand chair, a print of Ice Cube, and a lounger upholstered in a graphic black and white Pendleton fabric. She complimented those items with rugs from SMG Collective, pillows from Fine Little Day, oak side tables from Akron Street, and lighting from Cedar and Moss. “Their lighting is gorgeous and adds the perfect touch,” she said. The kitchenette features a retro-style fridge from Smeg, glassware from HAY, and terrazzo pots from Woonwinkel.

“With some clever space planning, we were able to transform the basement into something that was cozy, and functional, and incorporated all our clients’ needs,” Annie said. “By recessing elements like the shelving, game banquette, and the kitchenette, we maximized the space plan, leaving it feeling open and comfortable in the main living area.”