Before the renovation, this basement was exactly what you’d expect: wall-to-wall carpet, a nondescript sectional sofa facing a television on the wall, and exercise equipment gathering dust in a corner. Not exactly inviting. Luckily, the owners tapped Boulder-based interior designer Emily Tucker—along with MK Construction—to rethink the 1,300-square-foot space so that it would multitask for the family of five who loves to entertain, and also appeal to their affection for color and shine. Here’s how Tucker pulled off the design.

5280 Home: What did this basement’s “before” look like?
Emily Tucker: It was dark and boring—basically a space where the homeowners’ son could build forts and watch the occasional movie. The colors were really dingy and didn’t give the space any life at all.

That’s hard to imagine—now it’s the epitome of light and bright. We find ourselves asking: How is this space subterranean?
Believe it or not, the only window is the one above the dining nook. We added a fair amount of can lighting, and the neutral floor tile and furniture really helped to make it feel much brighter. The other thing we knew we wanted right away was wallpaper that felt reflective; this [Kravet] paper has a slight shimmer to it and really does a great job of bouncing light around the room. The client loves anything with a little sparkle.

Four Modernica Case Study Side Shell stools in a bright and cheery blue provide inviting seating at the basement’s large island, while a trio of glittering Arteriors pendants illuminates from above. On the accent wall, abstract watercolor stripes come courtesy of a Candice Olson–designed wallcovering by Kravet. Crossville Studio’s soothing Oxy floor tile (in Cornsilk) is extra cozy thanks to radiant heat, while a custom coffered ceiling (painted Benjamin Moore’s Brushed Aluminum) defines the space. Photo by Heather Knierim

Now it looks like the place where all the fun happens.
The idea was to make a family living room that had space for everyone to be together: a [dining nook with a] table for board games and snacks, and a wet bar for entertaining friends. The only other hangout spot in the house is directly off the kitchen upstairs, and it wasn’t a great place to watch a movie or a football game.

So this is the new hub of the house—and the best part is, your design details make it extra cozy.
I knew the basement needed some architectural details to give it warmth and layers. The coffered ceiling and wall panels were added to bring in those custom architectural elements. And because we were so focused on being family friendly, every fabric is indoor/outdoor. The client really wanted a usable space.

This article was originally published in 5280 Home August/September 2020.
Cheryl Meyers
Cheryl Meyers
Cheryl Meyers is a contributing writer to 5280 Home, which means she gets to spend her days writing about Colorado’s most beautiful indoor spaces.