Light up the Lower Level

Two years after moving into their new 4,000-plus-square-foot Colonial home, these homeowners installed a backyard swimming pool. To make a direct route outdoors and create more recreation spaces for their family and many guests, they decided it was time to remodel the unfinished walkout basement.

November 30, 2005

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Spreading the Sunshine

Two years after moving into their new 4,000-plus-square-foot Colonial home, these homeowners installed a backyard swimming pool. To make a direct route outdoors and create more recreation spaces for their family and many guests, they decided it was time to remodel the unfinished walkout basement.

Glass-panel doors separate the exercise room, bathroom and bedroom from the living areas, providing privacy while allowing light to filter in and out of the space. The bedroom's curved glass-block wall serves the same purpose.

"They did it right," says Craig Durosko, CR, president of Sun Design Remodeling Specialists. "They lived in their home for a few years to give themselves time to see how they wanted to use the house before diving into a large project."

Sun Design had already built a deck and cut a new doorway for these clients. Now, they charged the remodeler with designing a basement that reflected the look and feel of the upper floors as well as the backyard. They also wanted the rooms of the relatively dark space to be filled with natural light.

The plan included a full bath and bedroom with walk-in closet for the couple's teenage daughter; an exercise studio with mirrored walls and a ceiling-mounted television; a kitchenette; a billiards room, including niches for storage and shelves for beverages and snacks; and a media area.

The media area features a built-in entertainment center, a walk-in closet for games and storage, and surround sound with an in-wall speaker system that links to speakers throughout the basement.

"Since the teenage daughter might soon leave for college, we conceptualized the entire basement as serving in future years as an in-law's apartment or for use by someone who is limited to one-level living for an extended period," Durosko explains.

Columns, arches and distinctive ceiling elements not only reflect accents throughout the rest of the house, they also divide shared spaces and hide plumbing, mechanical and electrical.

"Our team is attuned to looking at problems as opportunities, which helps when communicating ideas to the clients," says Durosko.

The basement's existing 10-foot ceiling allowed Sun Design to use concealing techniques such as a coffered ceiling without losing headroom. Arches in the kitchen and billiards room hide existing duct work and bulkheads. The curved shape is repeated in the stair landing, the kitchen counter, the glass-block bedroom wall and the tapered round columns at the foot of the stairs.

The lead carpenter transformed the existing steel support columns in the billiards room into columns that mimic those in other parts of the house. The theme continues out to the backyard, where Sun Design created an arched white arbor with columns at the sliding-glass door leading to the pool area.

 

Remodeler: Sun Design Remodeling Specialists Inc., Burke, Va.
Project location: Herndon, Va.
Age of home: Built in 2000
Scope of project: Finish a 2,630-square-foot basement, adding light and ensuring easy access to the backyard pool


Product List

Cabinets: Shiloh. Ceiling Fan: Emerson. Countertops: Silestone. Lighting: Progress. Plumbing Fixtures: Grohe, Kohler, Moen. Tile: Magica


Spreading the Sunshine

Natural light topped the homeowners' wish list for the basement. Sun Design fulfilled their desire through clever use of exterior and interior glass. The home's lot, sloped from front to back, meant that the back half of the basement already had a few windows and a sliding glass door. Sun Design added a large window in the billiards room to provide a view of the swimming pool and add natural light.

To bring the sunlight as far as possible into the basement, Sun Design specified that all interior doors have special-ordered, semi-opaque glass inserts. Even when they're closed for privacy, light enters. To extend the theme, Sun Design used the same glass in the doors of the upper kitchen cabinets.

When the sun goes down, 50 fluorescent recessed lights, plus pendant lighting over the bar and task lighting under the cabinetry, ensure that the basement remains brightly lit and user friendly. Using fluorescent bulbs increases energy efficiency and reduces heat generated by them.

Coordinating the electrical and sound wiring was one of the project's biggest challenges, says Durosko. "The full lighting and electrical design, especially on the lower level, is so important," he says. "We want to have all that decided before the project starts."

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