Sometimes that extra room you've always wanted is right under your feet. Elizabeth Willett, an interior decorator in Atlanta, was looking to fulfill several needs in her family's 1927 Tudor-style house when she saw untapped potential in its walk-out basement. "It already had a fireplace and a tiny bath, but it had never really been properly finished," she says. While the ceiling was low, it wasn't too low, and moisture—that bane of basement remodels—wasn't a problem.
Soon Elizabeth and her husband, Chris, were picturing the equivalent of an 830-square-foot addition, minus the new footprint, with a whole host of amenities. Working with architect Jack Davis and contractor Rod Boyer, the couple created a family retreat and entertainment space at the bottom of the stairs. Guests can hang a left to check out the wine cellar or plop down on a sofa facing the stone fireplace and a TV. Davis even managed to fit in a full bath, a laundry area, a food pantry, and a home-office space. "There were lots of nooks and crannies, and we've used every square inch," Elizabeth says.
While their redo was unusually ambitious, it involved design solutions to problems that crop up in any basement conversion. Read on to learn how the family went from floor plan to finished space, then find five extra basement design ideas.