Wild and Wonderful Basement Remodel

A focal point wet bar, distinctive coffered ceilings and safari-themed finishes incorporated into the design for the remodeled basement in this Centennial, Colo. residence provide the family with an adventurous entertaining area.

July 31, 2008
Finished Basement
Products List
Curves Put a New Spin on Thinking Outside the Box

The remodeler gutted the lower level to have a fresh start for the new basement. Existing mechanicals and support structures were either incorporated into the new design elements or moved. The new circular bar features a split bamboo finish and a granite countertop.  After photos by Steve DiMasi, DiMasi Digital

Remodeler Patrick Condon of Finished Basement Co. knows how important a well-finished basement can be for homeowners who want to boost their living space or expand their entertaining options.The family of this Centennial, Colo., home turned to his company to do just that and now enjoy a basement that provides an at-home "escape from convention" that the family sought.

Condon is familiar with such projects. They are so popular, in fact, that the Denver-based design/build firm he founded nearly 11 years ago has been very successful in focusing exclusively on this element of the remodeling market. With a client list that averages more than 90 projects annually in the city's metro area, as well as additional projects handled out of a second office that serves the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. region, business is booming, he says.

A Great Escape

This one-of-a-kind safari-themed walk-out basement features distinctive coffered ceilings and unique finishes that depart from the upscale traditional Colorado home. The 1,800-square-foot space connects directly with the homeowner's pool terrace and features a dramatic circular wet bar as its primary focal point.

It wasn't always that way. The basement of this three-year-old home had previously been finished. "But it was just your very run-of-the-mill basic basement with framed out walls, drywall and a small wet bar," Condon says. "There was nothing unique or remarkable about it. We came in and totally gutted out the space, and then took a completely fresh approach."


The remodeling team pushed the clients to consider new ideas. "Nothing is as challenging or ultimately as rewarding as getting a client to think outside the box when it comes to the possibilities a finished basement can offer them in terms of bonus living and entertaining space. In this case, we had to get the clients to see what the potential was beyond what currently existed."

In addition to the central wet bar, the lower level includes a changing room, a full bathroom, several zones for gaming, a media center and generous storage space.

Departure from Convention

It was the homeowners who seized the concept of a safari retreat because of its similarity to the theme of one of the family's favorite local restaurants. The African-inspired accents are a deliberate departure from the traditional style found throughout the rest of the home.

The result, says the remodeler, is an informal entertaining area that is as much a conversation point as it is inviting and comfortable.

The coffered ceiling incorporates recessed lights and features tongue-in-groove fir finish.

With the selection of faux zebra-skin carpeting, split-bamboo trim for the bar and natural stone trim, the clients went "all in for this design theme," says Condon. "They never plan to leave this house."

However, because care was taken to keep the overall finish palette of the lower level upscale but neutral, the unique character of the space can easily be altered to satisfy the homeowner's tastes should they change. It will also help meet the requirements of a future buyer with minimal effort. "By changing the carpet, you can literally change the character of the room," says the remodeler.

Focus on Enjoyment

Because the home's lower level connects to an outdoor terrace and swimming pool, the transition between the two areas was improved by adding an additional access door that connects directly to a new changing room and full bath.

"The whole family uses this space, but it is really great for their two teenage daughters who love to entertain their friends downstairs."

Built-in storage cabinets flank a niche surrounded by faux stone trim.

The new lower level also features an elaborate sound and lighting system as well as a wall-mounted television that can be pulled out from the wall and rotated to provide an optimum viewing angle from any area in the basement.

While every job may not be as elaborate as this $150,000-plus project, each one gets the same attention to detail, says Condon, because the majority of his customers come from word-of-mouth recommendation. These clients contacted him after they'd seen his work at a neighbor's home.

"Ultimately, they're thrilled with the way that their new space turned out," he says. "I know that they spend a lot more of their time downstairs these days."


Finished Basement

REMODELER AND ARCHITECT: Finished Basement Co., Denver
PROJECT LOCATION: Centennial, Colo.
AGE OF HOME: 3 years
SCOPE OF WORK: Create a unique design and improve the functionality in a previously finished walk-out lower level

Products List

Insulation: R13 & Visqueen barrier in furnace room Paints & stains: Kwal paints Cabinets: Mastercraft Heritage Countertops: Black Galaxy granite Faucets & fixtures: Kohler Tile: Eddie Walnut Fireplace: Novus Carpet: Karistan

Curves Put a New Spin on Thinking Outside the Box

With their myriad of structural support beams and columns, not to mention mechanicals, ducting and plumbing runs to plan around, basements can pose a significant challenge for the remodeler when it comes to creating design excitement as well as functional living space.

Remodeler Patrick Condon, owner of Denver-based, Finished Basement Company, however, says that he finds inspiration, rather than limitation, in the constrictions presented by this type of building environment.

"The first thing I do when I look at all of these elements in an unfinished basement is think 'How do we cover these up?'" he says.

For this project, the curved ceiling details that add character to the space were inspired by the existing ductwork.

"We incorporated them into the design and made them beautiful architectural elements," he says. "We actually do this quite often."

The pie-shaped soffit above the bar radiates from a central point. "We then used the space below to imitate the ceiling curves with the shape of the bar. The design goal was to create drama by mimicking the ceiling in the structure below it.

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