imaginary redecorating my parents’ basement

We left off on Friday with a brand new (imaginary) footprint for my mother’s basement. It’s amazing how easy that was!

My mother’s style is what I’d call as Americana traditional. I love so many of her pieces, but my style is more modern and if I were redesigning the basement, I’d want to take a little more inspiration from the house itself. The house was built in 1959, also known as “Mad Men” era. So, to make the basement my own, I’d want to weave mid-century elements into a fresh, modern great room design.


There’s a lot happening here, right?

The items stacked on the left (materials) and at the bottom (colors) are my palette for the space. Here are the other highlights that you’ll see reflected in my design:

  • Black and white contrast
  • Black matte armoire doors
  • Iron glass doors
  • Unfussy, yet warm dining space
  • Concrete tiles with brass inlay
  • Columns integrated into the island
  • No wall cabinets in the kitchen
  • Live edge walnut slab large on fireplace hearth
  • Dropped lighting above island
  • Brick painted black
  • Walnut cabinetry

Now, here’s how I took these little bits and pieces and put them into a room design. Here’s the new floorplan, as a reminder, I’ve just focused on designing the great room:



My design compositions focus on the three walls in the upper great room:

The first is the wall of armoires that would be a matte black wood. Inside would be a ton of storage. I paired it with the fabulous Blue Dot Strut table in walnut, with upholstered white chairs and a brass pendant. I think white against black matte is just stunning!

The second is the large wall that sits at the top of the room. It’s currently brick, but I’d add drywall and paint it a crisp white. This is where you see most of the color, but keep in mind that the spaces are all integrated. I was excited to find that the Surreal House photography collage by Matthias Jung and the Robert Joyner portrait of Ulysses Grant were a perfect fit.

The third wall is the one you see when you walk into the room. I decided on black painted brick to keep the character of the brick but help to hide the TV, which would be mounted to the left. A main feature here is the live edge slab of walnut, acting as the hearth. It  is meant to be floating and very deep, so as to accommodate cozying out by the fire.

The floors throughout the space are a concrete tile with a brass inlay. Though I like the idea of using triangles, it would not be as busy as you see in my compositions.

Keeping within my material and color palette, you’ll see that a lot of the pieces are mid-century’ish – but it feels more modern than retro. I also made a point of using black accents on the white wall and white accents on the black walls to keep that contrast going throughout the space. And, Turkish kilims always do a nice job of bringing in a ton of color to look collected, yet fresh.



Hopefully, this gives you a sense of the kitchen as I didn’t attempt to mock the entire thing up. The main ideas are: walnut wood for the island, a rose/green’ish quartzite countertop throughout, the same concrete floors with brass inlay, matte black wood doors on the fridge and on the wall lower cabinets, crisp white painted walls and columns, brass and iron accents. I really love the idea of creating a “freestanding” looking island by building an iron foundation at its base.

The pocket doors on the flex space would be the iron and glass, which would also match the pantry doors (not pictured) that you see in the floorplan.

The two runners are a West Elm collaboration with Roar and Rabbit and, at least on computer, they pulled out colors from and provided a nice compliment to the living room kilim. Finally, in the flex space, you see a tremendous walnut mid-century console that I found on Etsy, made by The Implement. Again, this could serve as a place to fold and stack laundry, a buffet during parties, or even a potting rack (though you’d need to add a durable cover to the top of the console for that task!)

Oh! And one more little thing, I don’t think I’m going to do compositions for the master bedroom, bath, hall powder room and bar, BUT if I were… this tile by Smink Things would definitely be somewhere in my design plan. I think it would look super amazing as the backsplash on the bar right outside the great room.

It’s funny how ideas flow when you’re inspired. At one point I was so consumed by this I forgot to eat until after 3pm!

Also, designing these “imaginary” spaces where I don’t have to worry about exact color matching, sizes or cost, is really helping me to hone in on my own personal style and POV as a designer.

Would love to know what you think!

All sources and more inspiration or products that I considered for this design are on a Pinterest Board. 


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