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Go with the Flow
Though the homeowners had high hopes for the remodel of the lower level of their home, their project had been in limbo for some time given discord with their neighborhood association, which did not approve a previously designed addition that drastically enlarged the home's footprint. So when the homeowner brought Wright Street Design Group of Ann Arbor, Mich.
|The Wright Street Design Group's biggest challenge was to design a logical, open flow between the game room, great room and theater room so that each space was separate but connected without the use of hallways. After photos by Fred Golden Photography|
Though the homeowners had high hopes for the remodel of the lower level of their home, their project had been in limbo for some time given discord with their neighborhood association, which did not approve a previously designed addition that drastically enlarged the home's footprint. So when the homeowner brought Wright Street Design Group of Ann Arbor, Mich., to the project, it was imperative that the group work within the existing footprint to create an open, warm and informal space while keeping any additions to the basement as minimal as possible.
Wright Street founder, owner and principal designer Stanley Monroe estimates that he created at least a dozen iterations (with numerous sub-iterations) before the construction phase. After about six months of design time, he finalized a layout that worked within the existing structure of the basement's nine steel columns putting rooms that required natural light around the perimeter. The only structural work required stabilizing a sinking foundation and repairing a vertical crack from the eve board to the footing and repatching the masonry in the corner where the new fireplace was placed to ensure the chimney was adequately supported.
Monroe says it was imperative to have a logical flow among the game room, great room and theater so that each space could easily access the snack bar and people were not segregated from one another during a large gathering.
He avoided using hallways to connect rooms or floor plans that called for furniture placement to define rooms.
This project's details included incorporating both arched and full-circle windows that echoed those in the existing home; using wood and stone finishes; and emphasizing nude, soft colors that gave an "up North" feel that complemented the natural Midwestern landscape of the home. For example, the homeowners had an extensive collection of Petoskey stones they wanted to incorporate, so a Wright employee spent several hours slicing and polishing the stones that were later used in the bathroom tile.
"The key is not to stop until you solve every problem, both for the client and how you feel the space should function as the designer," Monroe said. "I never like to stop until I feel I've solved every issue — traffic, a comfortable sense of space, view and light. Once you get that overall scheme, you go further."
"It started midway through the project, and it took several months to complete, but it's important that you listen to every little thing the client says," Monroe says. "They may not know all the details or how it should come out, but you get a feel from them of how they want a space to look, feel and function, and you get to present ideas that help them carry that out. And that's invaluable."
The 14-month project cost $650,000.