Solutions: Lots of work turns basement into play place

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

Even a play space requires a lot of planning. That was the case for a spacious lower level of a newly constructed home in Bloomfield Hills. Julie Byrne, owner of Julie Byrne Interiors in Birmingham, who worked on the residence, says this part of the house is defined by the play areas that include a pool table, a golf simulator and a pingpong table.

“We really concentrated on the space planning,” says Byrne who made sure there was enough clearance around the transitional-style pool table. “You have to be able to bend over with the pool cue and walk around the perimeter of the table without hitting a wall.”

Similar considerations were given to the placement of the pingpong table. “You don’t want the pingpong balls hitting the walls, so you need a lot of space for enthusiastic players,” she says.

Other features include a two-sided fireplace made with stacked panels from Realstone Systems in Troy. Different panels from the same source create a retaining wall for the golf simulator. “It gives them a lot of texture and depth,” says Byrne.

Like the adjacent kitchen island, the retaining wall has a quartz countertop that makes it ideal for entertaining. “You can play any golf course in the world with the simulator and guests can sit at the bar and watch people play,” she says.

Carefully chosen materials, like the leather seats and wood base on the barstools, make the space feel clubby, like a restaurant, adds Byrne.

Artificial turf covers the golf simulator area, while the surrounding vinyl flooring that resembles wood planks is virtually indestructible and can even handle golf cleats.

In another section of the lower level, there’s a projection screen TV surrounded by ample seating.

“What’s nice about the whole setup is that it’s a large gathering space for parents and kids,” she says. “It’s really nice for keeping everyone together.”

The homeowners often use their lower level for entertaining. “We spent a lot of time thinking about the layout of the space,” says Byrne who also put a lot of thought into the visual aspects like the walls that wear Accessible Beige from Sherwin-Williams.

“I didn’t want you to feel like you’re in a dark basement,” she explains.

Even the structural columns take on a lighter tone with a stone base and painted trim details. “Otherwise, the basement doesn’t have any personality,” says Byrne.

Personal artifacts were given pride of place with a built-in trophy case for display. “All the kids’ trophies are in there,” she says. “It’s fun for the kids to see them.”

Now the homeowners feel grateful to have a place that lets them stay active during the long, cold Michigan winters, while blurring the lines between indoors and out. In fact, they use the practical space every day. The whole family plays golf, and when the kids come home from school, they’re not sitting on the couch watching TV.

In the end, they credit Byrne, who also worked on their previous home, with her space planning skills that led to functional rooms for the whole family.

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