Before and After: A Raw Seattle Basement Becomes a Calming Retreat
In a 1900s home nestled in the Capitol Hill neighbourhood of Seattle, a doctor and IT professional and their two boys realised they needed more space to meet the needs of their young family. The basement proved to be the best place to carve out additional rooms, but it was going to take a lot of work to get the raw, unfinished space up to par. Enter designer Katie Hackworth, who, together with her husband Paul, founded the Seattle-based firm H2 Design + Build.
Hackworth transformed the family’s drab, mostly unused subterranean space into a bright, kid-friendly area perfect for her clients to spend time together as a family.
“The basement was in pretty bad shape before the renovation: no insulation, cracked concrete floors with traces of old linoleum, exposed plumbing, and weathered windows,” Hackworth shares of the raw basement H2 Design + Build was hired to transform. “The whole space centered around an original brick chimney foundation, unsightly boiler, and hot water tank.”
“Our clients wanted a space for their boys to grow into, somewhere to watch a movie—and sing karaoke—with family and friends,” says Hackworth. In addition to a combination family room/playroom, Hackworth’s clients needed a guest room and bathroom, kitchenette, laundry room, and mudroom.
“My main objective for this renovation was to transform our clients' dark and dingy basement into an extension of their home,” the designer shares. “I tried to keep everything as welcoming and comfortable as possible with a serene palette and durable, but soft, fabrics and textures.”
To make all of the requested, necessary spaces fit into the 1200-square-foot floor plan, Hackworth had to get creative. “When it comes to floor and space planning, it’s really just a complicated form of Tetris,” she states. “I hate odd corners, angles, and wasted space. I typically start with the necessities and move things around until the pieces fit together in a way that makes sense.”
A mix of furniture lines and styles and a variety of textures add intrigue to the design, which features a mainly neutral colour palette.
The basement’s low ceilings and lack of sizeable windows inspired Hackworth to use a bright white paint colour in the main living areas to lighten the space and prevent it from feeling cold.
Painting a brick wall in the playroom space helped to lend visual interest. “We painted the brick chimney foundation which is original to the home,” the designer shares. “It adds a cool element of texture to the space.”
“My personal taste definitely comes through in each of our projects, but I really try to pull in elements that reflect the clients' aesthetic, as well as the architecture of the home itself,” the designer shares. “Of course, I am always pushing people to go out of their comfort zone. Boring and predictable décor is no fun.”
Hackworth’s new floor plan and textural, tonal décor seems to have won her clients over. “We just had family night at their home singing karaoke in their new basement,” shares the designer. “So, I’d certainly say they are happy!”
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