An Unfinished Basement Gets a Masculine Makeover
An eerie, partially below-grade storage space becomes a fun and functional getaway for a hardworking dad
Even the most die-hard family guy needs some alone time. Take Kirker Butler. The Los Angeles–based writer longed for a quiet retreat where he could craft his TV scripts while still being close to his wife and young daughter. "I wanted some bells and whistles, too," admits Kirker, who hoped a big flat-screen TV, a leather recliner, and shelves for his sports memorabilia and collectibles would make the room just as much man cave as office.
Shown: The designer cleverly incorporated the footings as the bases for mahogany bookcases and a raised reading nook.
Unfortunately, the only spot available was a dreary storage area off the garage. The space, which had once held a gas furnace, was small, with uneven floors and large concrete footings designed to anchor the house in an earthquake or a landslide.
Shown: The concrete footings gave the dreary, unfinished storage space a bunker look.
Designer Kyle Schuneman set about giving the dank room a library look with dark mahogany millwork and built-in shelving. General contractor Mark Aller laid a floating wood floor over the uneven concrete and clad the footings in drywall. Now the formerly cold, dark space is a treasured getaway for the man of the house. "I've been thinking about this space for seven years," says Kirker. "It turned out awesome."
Shown: A new window, twice as tall as the original, was installed for more light and air. In the corner, a gas meter was boxed out with drywall and is now accessed through an exterior panel.
Window wall paint: Huntington Beige; Benjamin Moore
A varied color palette of warm and cool neutrals helps highlight the architecture of the room. Golden-yellow paint envelops the cozy reading nook, while pale gray grounds its base.
Mahogany boards dress up the drywalled footings and help integrate them into the design.
The library gets plenty of soft, warm light from sconces installed on the posts dividing the bookcases.
Homeowner tip: "Put electric outlets everywhere—the walls, the floor, everywhere! Then, when you find a really cool lamp made out of a beer bottle, you'll be able to put it exactly where you want."—Kirker Butler, Los Angeles
Sconces: Restoration Hardware
The 14-by-16-foot storage space was used for little more than stowing drippy paint cans and holiday decorations.
The comfy space now serves as study, office, and entertainment center.
What They Did:
1. Zoned the space with a half bath in the room's only open area and bookshelves along the periphery. Concealed a gas meter (now accessed from outdoors).
2. Finished the footings by boxing them out with drywall and building bookcases on top.
3. Mounted a TV and hid a mini fridge inside the wall that leads to the mechanicals access area.
4. Floated a desk in the center of the room and added a recliner for TV viewing.