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Room of the Month : Basement Redesign

This month we're featuring the work of one of Sheffield's own students, M. Charles Beach, who took the Sheffield Guidelines to Interior Design — function, mood, and harmony — and put his own spin on them with his design business, M. Charles Beach Interiors, LLC, in Framingham, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston.

Here, we see a "basement redesign" that Mr. Beach recently completed for a client.

Sheffield Tip: The first step in taking on a basement makeover — whether it's in your home or a client's home — is to get rid of all those boxes, unused exercise equipment, and your grandmother's lamp collection. We recommend working with the client on sorting through the mountains of stuff, encouraging them to keep the things they really want incorporated into the decor of the home, and allotting one room in the basement just for storage.

After the space is cleared and cleaned, the next step is to install walls, which doesn't need to be expensive as they won't be weight-bearing; they're only going up to divide the space into rooms. One technique, used here, is to install permanent shoji screens, which will be less expensive than hiring a contractor to create walls, but will still provide separate spaces. Another solution to dividing space would be using panel track and vertical blinds.

First, let's look at the basement as if it's one room, looking at the function of the whole underground space. One of the top considerations in analyzing at the function of any room is to see how many roles it can fill, and here Mr. Beach has found just the right way to allow the basement optimum flexibility.

Often any spare space in a home is dedicated to a home office or a guest room. If space is scarce, these have to double up, but the basement can often offer enough room so that two separate areas can be created. This allows for privacy for overnight visitors, and allows the homeowner to continue to use the home office even when the guest room is in use.

In the first photo, you can see that the bedroom and office don't interfere with one another; the head of the bed is on the opposite wall from the one shared with the office, so any noise from the office won't come right through to the head of the bed. The shoji screens, which slide closed, provide even more privacy in the office space, while letting the light in.

This basement redesign functions as both home office and guest room, and can also serve as longer-term quarters, as you can see from the second photo. The central area of the basement hasn't been left untouched; rather, it's been made into a small living quarters that can serve as a living room, so that the entire basement can function as a space for a longer-term guest, or even for a tenant.

If there isn't a long-term guest staying, the living area can also function as an alternate or additional living room during a big house party, or as a library or media room.

Using the second of the Sheffield Guidelines, the mood here is daringly modern, blending contemporary furniture with Asian influences. The shoji screens, the simply made bed, the recessed lighting all emphasize a calm feeling of tranquility, and the simplicity of the furnishings add to this feeling. Because of lack of windows, framed >Asian art could also be added to wall space to create more color and interesting views.

One challenge in a basement room, of course, is providing enough light. Here, the recessed lighting allows for maximum light without creating a harsh mood. The lighting in the living room can be dimmed and the shoji screens on the office closed to allow one person to work in brighter light and the other to relax in dimmer light.

In terms of harmony, the third Sheffield Guideline, everything here works together, without being of any one style or color. The geometric shapes on the rug echo the geometric shapes on the bedding and the squares created by the wood slats on the shoji screens. The stony colors of the bedding and the steel squares of the carpet recall one another, and the dark walls in all three rooms bring in a continuity of color. The rich, dark leather of the sofa and the dark of the spiral stair reflect each other and serve as an anchor to those lighter colors.

All in all, this basement redesign makes us reconsider our own use of the space below our feet. With its multiple functions, its bright mood, and its perfect harmony, we're pleased and proud to be able to claim Mr. Beach as one of our own.

-Sarah Van Arsdale

 

Source: Sheffield School of Interior Design
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