Remodeled basements a stay-home getaway

The Detroit News

Carving out some bonus space as you shelter in place could be a good plan for families to keep their sanity. Here are two recent basement remodels that have definitely come in handy during the stay-home order.

Natalie Jagels with Patricia Interiors in Shelby Township and Troy says her clients appreciate their remodeled kitchens and basements even more given the amount of time spent inside lately, “They’re so happy to have a home that’s comfortable, organized and fresh.” 

Basements fit the bill for families. “We get stir crazy and think, ‘Where can we put these kids?’” she says. “It’s important for them to have that getaway in a different location in the house. You can also have a gym to make sure you stay fit and better utilize the space.”

Her 2,900-square-foot Georgian Colonial in Troy had a dated basement with carpet, dark paneling, drop ceilings and florescent lighting.

Still, she could see the potential of the open floor plan in the roughly 1,400-square-foot space. For starters, the original L-shaped bar that created a traffic jam was replaced with a linear version. “You can get in and out on one side or the other like a buffet and there’s room for more bar stools,” she says.

The glass subway-tile backsplash that mimics wood complements the black ceramic tile below, while the quartz counter features a waterfall edge. Easy-to-clean bar stools have a lip in the back for support. Mirrors expand the space and reflect light. “Basements can be very dark,” says Jagels.

A sink and a flat screen TV make the bar area even more functional for their frequent entertaining that they hope to resume soon. “We do birthday parties and holidays and the kids have friends over and the parents come,” she says. “I wanted to make sure there was a place for kids to play, but I didn’t want to make the basement a playroom.”

A new bar area replaced the original L-shaped configuration that interrupted the flow of traffic in the original basement. The quartz counter features a waterfall edge and the barstools have a mid-century feel.

An Amish furniture set that was custom-made for the kids is special to Patricia, 5, who loves to draw and do crafts and Lenny, 8, who loves hockey. Husband Justin shares a passion for the sport he played in college. “I wanted to celebrate that,” says Jagels who highlights hockey memorabilia with shadowboxes that hold mementos such as Justin’s hockey jersey from Oakland University. Seats from Joe Louis Arena honor the Detroit Red Wings.

Luxury vinyl tiles that emulate wood cover the floors, while the original wall paneling awakens the space when painted gray. In the lounge area where they watch movies, ceramic tiles create a dramatic backdrop. “The tiles are a focal point and they are more practical in a basement because they’re easy to clean,” she says.

White trim in rustic wood contributes to the casual setting. “It’s not your main floor, it’s a basement,” says Jagels. The drop ceiling was spray-painted black, a process that includes inspecting mechanicals beforehand, she adds.

Multipurpose pieces include a storage ottoman and a modular sectional that becomes a bed. Lights on dimmers enhance the place where everyone wants to be now.   

“It really clicked how lucky we are to have a third floor that’s finished,” says Jagels. “It’s another home in a sense and a place to get away for the kids or even just a spot to watch a movie that isn’t upstairs in the same old family room. It changes the vibe, gives us space from each other if we need it, and also gives us a different spot to eat and hang out.” 

Welcome addition

Another basement remodel Jagels did for a client wrapped up just in time for Angela DeKock and her sons Owen, 12 and Brendan, 10 to take advantage of the newly refurbished space during the stay-at-home order.

Situated on 5 acres in Oakland Township with chickens, ducks and dogs, the farmhouse-style home had a finished basement that just wasn’t functional. “It was a clean slate,” says Jagels.

“I wanted it to be cozy, casual and comfortable,” says DeKock, an endodontist who loves to read in her new library on the lower level. A pair of swivel chairs and a leather ottoman offer comfy seating by the black custom bookcase with adjustable shelves and a Corian quartz surface.

In the Oakland Township home of Angela DeKock, her recent basement renovation by interior designer Natalie Jagels features a library area with a custom built-in bookcase and comfy swivel chairs.

Occasional tables offer a convenient spot to place a beverage or a book. Lighting combines fun ceiling fixtures with sconces on dimmers. “The gold accents really pop on black,” says Jagels. A counter-height table provides the perfect setup for casual meals where metal and wood elements evoke a farmhouse feel.

Earth tones pair with black, white and gold components, while paint colors with a nod to nature define various sections of the basement. In the library and the kids’ area, the walls are forest green, while the bar and the family room wear varying shades of brown. DeKock’s passion for travel and animals merge in a penguin image she took on South Georgia Island during a trip to Antarctica.

The kids’ area combines faux-leather swivel chairs and a pullout sofa with an adjustable-height coffee table for informal meals. Custom cabinets house the TV and a high-top media table has USB ports. “It’s a really functional and comfortable area for the kids,” says Jagels.

A renovated bar area features a microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator and wine fridge. Updates include a new backsplash, sink and lighting, but the layout and the flooring stayed intact. “It was about giving the bar a facelift,” says Jagels.

In the lower level family room, a leather sectional and an indoor/outdoor rug are among the resilient selections. An electric fireplace with a stone tile surround adds texture and dimension to the space. “They’re great for basements,” says Jagels. “You don’t need a chimney and they come in all different price points.”

This updated part of the house has been a big hit with the whole family. “I’ve added 1,800 square feet to my home is how I look at it. Now I can turn the fireplace on, watch a movie and have a glass of wine. The boys love it; they roller blade down there,” says DeKock. “I wanted the basement to be a place where I want to hang out and I do and it’s beautiful. We’re definitely down there more.”

Jeanine Matlow writes the Smart Solutions column in Homestyle. You can reach her at