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One Room Challenge Week 2: Coastal Basement Design

by - Wednesday, May 13, 2020

It's Week 2 of the One Room Challenge (ORC) and I'm excited to share with you probably the most exciting part of the renovation process... the basement design and decor ideas.

If you're new to Rambling Renovators, welcome! My name is Jennifer. I'm an e-Designer and social media strategist and I've been writing this blog since 2007. I live with my husband and daughter in Toronto, Canada in a centre-plan, colonial style house that we've infused with the fresh traditional style we love. We DIY all our renovations and have a fondness for architectural details, built-ins, and classic decor. 

Last week, I shared the basement layout with you and I fundamentally believe that that's where all decor and design projects should begin. You need to get the function and flow of a room right for it to feel right. If you've been following my Instagram stories, you would have seen how we achieved that by extending the sofa wall and now have the basement at a good starting point.

So let's talk about basement design and decorating ideas.

Basement Design and Decor

There are a million different directions I could have taken this basement (and trust me, I created moodboards for at least 20 of them, ha!). But we did have to start somewhere, and so we took our cues from the craft room which is on the other side of the basement:

I spent some time in the craft room this weekend sewing up lovely things for the ORC. It's one of my most favourite places in our house - it's bright, cheery, and comfortable, with a hint of coastal, nautical style. That's the feeling I wanted to continue in the rest of the basement. 

With basement design, it's helpful to have a "big picture" in mind. Basements tend to be open spaces with one area flowing into the next. Keeping your basement design cohesive and well thought out will result in a pleasant space where the decor and design flows seamlessly.

Designing In Stages

When creating a design scheme, I tend to approach it by thinking about different "view points":
  • What do I see when I look down the hallway towards the room? 
  • What catches my eye as soon as I step inside? 
  • What fabrics and colours do I see repeated throughout?

I find it easier to design by breaking down the room into these manageable pieces. Get one viewpoint right, top to bottom, figure out all of the details, and move to the next part of the room. 

Standing at the bottom of the stairs, here's the current view into the basement:

And this is what I envisioned:

First things first, the fireplace is the focal point of the room and it is in need of a makeover! We considered many options - painting the stone, a german smear technique, cladding it in tile - but the one that seemed right for our space and our taste was to transform the fireplace with shiplap and tile.

Side note: I know many will say "but shiplap is so 2015!" and you should do German smear because all the big bloggers are doing it"... to which I say, do what YOU love. Not because it's trendy, not because it's what all over Instagram. You're the one living in your home, so make sure it's something you enjoy, for the long run.

We had used shiplap in our craft room (see above) and had leftover materials so it only made sense to carry the shiplap into this part of the basement. It's a look we love and less materials go to waste so the choice was easy. 

Repeating materials and colours are easy ways to make your design feel cohesive. Shiplap also has a crisp, clean look that we favour and it definitely brings that coastal, nautical vibe into the space. We'll be contrasting that crispness though with a textured ceramic tile from The Tile Shop with a hand-glazed look. Can't wait to show more about that in the coming weeks!

Coastal Decor Ideas

That breezy feeling is enhanced by a few other design choices. Our basement design palette is dominated by blues and whites, stripes, and ship motifs. A little themey? Perhaps, but I think basements are a great place to be looser, have more fun with your style.

This side of the room is anchored by the round table (great for games nights!) with a pendant hanging above. You'll see that the lighting from Hudson Valley Lighting found throughout this space reinforces that coastal feeling. The Viceroy pendant, the Stanley sconces which will hang above the kitchenette, and the Randolph semi-flush mount light in the stairwell share brass details and opaque white glass shades. Brass is a classically nautical metal so it was the right choice for these light fixtures.

Pro tip: Get your light fixtures on site before you have your electrical work done. You might find that some of your fixtures (like the Stanley sconces, in our case) are heavier and require specific electrical boxes that can bear their weight!

A Basement Kitchenette

With the revised floor plan, we were able to carve out a spot for a new kitchenette, turning this end of the room...

into a gorgeous spot for entertaining. Our one must-have? A drinks fridge. Sean and I aren't wine drinkers but we do enjoy the occasional can of soda or beer. I had a few criteria: the fridge had to have a glass door, feature LED lighting (I just love that soft blue glow!), good temperature control, and be able to be installed under a counter. This Avalon Beveridge Centre from was just what we needed. It has excellent reviews and I just noticed they're now offering it in black stainless steel which would be super chic as well.

You can see that I've mixed metals here with the matte black Moen Patterson pull-down faucet and the unique Top Knobs pulls with backplate on the cabinetry and brass Stanley sconces above. You can mix metals but there's a few rules to follow. Check out this post for my tips on mixing metals.

Are you curious about the basement kitchen cabinets? We're going with IKEA Sektion cabinets paired with doors from Kitch. I'm thrilled to be working with this Canadian company and tell you more about their amazing products. If you've ever wanted a more customized look for your IKEA cabinetry, take a look at their doors. They come in the prettiest colours and unique door profiles (love the Slim Shaker for a modern look). They also offer floating shelves so watch for that install as well. 

A Coastal Basement

So let's bring it all together and take a look at the main seating area of the basement.

Our coastal basement scheme comes alive with the colours of sandy beaches, warm sunsets, and deep blue waters. I'm reusing many of the furniture pieces we already had like our swivel chairs and the coffee table which I'll refresh with paint. I'm consciously recycling and repurposing more these days, partially due to my reduced revenues (blogging as a career is just not sustainable these days!) but also because it's good for the earth. Do you feel that way? The pandemic has caused me to reassess where I spend my money and I've come to realize I just don't need as many new things.

In that vein, I decided to recover our IKEA Karlstad sofa instead of sending it to a landfill. It's getting a gorgeous new slipcover courtesy of Bemz. Have you heard of them? I had a specific look I was going for - a more tailored slipcover in linen - and Bemz had just the thing. I'll give you a closer look in the coming weeks and show you how I've used beautiful fabrics from Calico and decor items from Spoonflower to create a comfortable and welcoming look.

There's a lot more details I want to dive into but I hope this gives you a good idea of where we're headed. Can you envision it?

We're well on our way to this new beachy basement. The old flooring was removed (and given away for free to someone who will reuse it. Yay for less landfill!) and we've continued the laminate we had in the craft room into this main area.

We've also framed up and drywalled the new extended wall. It has already made this basement feel so different! Next up is the framing of the fireplace. I'll be glad to see that dated fireplace go. Follow along on Instagram where I'm sharing more of our progress, DIY inspiration, and challenges.

Now head over to the other Featured Designers and see what they're up to.

A Glass of Bovino | Beginning in the Middle | Beth Diana Smith | Clark + Aldine | Coco & Jack
Deeply Southern Home| Design Maze | Dwell by Cheryl | Erika Ward | Home Made by Carmona
House of Hipsters | Hunted Interior | Kandrac & Kole | Kate Pearce | Katrina Blair | Liz Kamarul
Veneer Designs | Rambling Renovators | Renovation Husbands | Studio Plumb | Media BH&G


Thank you to these One Room Challenge sponsors who are helping to make this project possible. I'm excited to be able to incorporate their quality products into our home and share them with you.

Hudson Valley Lighting

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