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The Basement: Layout Options

by - Tuesday, May 18, 2010

HandyMan and I have been sketching out ideas for the basement layout for weeks now and we've come up with some interesting options. Here's what the space looks like currently:

When we first started thinking about the space, we focused on our top priorities: more counterspace in the laundry room, and creating a pantry. In this option below, we shifted things around in the laundry room (which is currently too big) and made room for more storage closets and a nice big u-shaped pantry room. HandyMan likes niches and alcoves so he placed the pantry in such a way that it created a little niche for a workstation on the other side of the wall of the furnace. Niches like this really maximize the use of the space and create nice clean lines in the layout. He made use of another small niche (to the left of the laundry room door) to put a storage closet for detergents and such.

Building on this first option, we thought - what if we move the hot water tank to the laundry room so that all the ugly but necessary mechanical stuff gets put in one room? And what about creating a separate, more contained work area in the rec room?

Hmm, its not really working is it. The pantry seems to be floating in space. Then we thought - what if we change the entry... make the work area more of a pass-through hallway type of layout?

Okay, that plan is a little better looking. But now the pantry room has completely disappeared! Time for some radical thinking... what if we moved the laundry to the current kitchenette area? This would leave room for a really big pantry/storage room. And we could have a small-ish work/crafting room with a lower kid-sized table beside it.

I'm liking where this is going... but still not quite there. More radical thinking required! What if we stripped the laundry room down to the bare bones and created a small but functional space? And moving the placement of the pantry room... does this help?

Not really. While the bottom half of the layout seems nice and open, the top is a jumble of rooms and doorways. At this point, we took a step back and had a few "lightbulb" moments which helped us create the more streamlined plan below:

First, we decided that the pantry could be an unfinished space, meaning it could just be a bunch of shelves and brackets. It didn't even need to be drywalled or have a finished ceiling. With that in mind, we then thought - well, why don't we put the ugly hot water tank and furnace in the pantry room them? Doing this then created the opportunity for a more streamlined, rectangular shaped laundry room. That meant we could have nice long runs of countertop along the walls!

Another lightbulb moment came when we thought - why don't we change the storage niche that was to the left of the laundry room door and instead move it outside of the laundry room and change it to display space? Then we could create a nice little circulation space - display shelves on the left, laundry door in front, pantry door on the right, and a nice potlight overhead? Having the doors all in one zone makes sense and having visible open shelves creates some interest and texture.

Sweet! Can you see how those few changes has led to a more pleasant, logical and efficient plan? Architects call those lightbulb moments "unlocking the plan". I call it just plain awesome :)

So here's the final plan (I think). I'll be sharing the 3D model HandyMan created in SketchUp so you'll get a better idea of what this plan really feels like.

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