Blog by Beebe Cline

<< back to article list

Modern Style Converts an Empty Concrete Box

This Minneapolis couple needed more living room: a space where they could hang out together, where they could entertain, something that could double as a guest suite. But their lot size and city restrictions would have made an addition difficult, if not impossible. The solution for their 1914 bungalow lay below ground.

"While the basement was a dark concrete box with some engineering challenges, finishing it was the easiest way to add square footage without blasting out the back or going up," says Maya Khaira of White Crane Construction.

Here's a peek at the transformation of this former dungeon.

Basement at a Glance
Who lives here: A couple and their dog
Location: Minneapolis
Size: 775 square feet
BEFORE: Engineering challenges in the 775-square-foot area included an undersupported sloping floor, which needed four new footings and double floor joists to carry the load. The remodeling team also had to get rid of a series of awkward posts that broke up the space and replace them with two new structural steel beams.
AFTER: The main living room in the basement is now open and clean, crisp yet comfortable. The designers paid careful attention to lighting, adding recessed lights and borrowing light from the guest bedroom to brighten the space.

The clients entertain a lot, plus they have a dog and store their camping equipment down here, so the durability of the laminate flooring suited them. "The flooring is beautiful and tricks a lot of people into thinking that it's wood, and it is a little more moisture resistant than carpeting and pads for a basement," says senior designer Lynne Shears. As for the rug, the modern grid of Flor tiles mimicks the grid on the glass block windows.
Amenities include a gas fireplace, plasma TV and comfortable sectional sofa. The clients also wanted a niche with custom wood and glass display shelves for art pieces, seen just past the French doors in this shot. The solid double doors at the end of the room lead to a large closet for storing their extensive camping gear.

The French doors borrow light from the new double egress window in the guest room. Sandblasted glass provides privacy when guests stay over.

Fireplace: Valor; laminate flooring: FountainHead Lake in Mineral Springs Walnut 925, Shaw; wall paint: Gray Cashmere, Benjamin Moore

In the guest bedroom, a low wall-mounted headboard makes the ceilings feel higher. Floating shelves inserted into the headboard save floor space that nightstands would usually take up and help maintain an uncluttered look.

Wall paint: Hawthorne Yellow, Benjamin Moore; trim paint: Mountain Peak White, Benjamin Moore; rug: Flor; headboard: Ikea
The new double egress window brings the guest room up to code and lets in natural light. A new large window well was added around it outside.
The modern aesthetic carries into the new guest bathroom via elements like a floating vanity, a square mirror, glass backsplash tiles and stainless steel accents. The cantilevered vanity also makes the bathroom feel more spacious by freeing up floor space.

Faucets: Purist; counter: Blanco River, Silestone; backsplash tile: Glass Essentials 502 in Abyss, 1- by 2-inch mesh mount; floor tile: penny round tile in Milk, 12- by 12-inch H sheets, SKU 61525, The Tile Shop
Clear glass shower doors also make the bathroom feel larger.

Shower wall tile: Setai in Vetiver 12 by 24 inches, Happy Floors; shower floor tile: Setai in Vetiver 1 1/2- by 1 1/2-inch sheet mount, Happy Floors; niche tiles: Abyss 1- by 1-inch sheet mount, Glass Essentials; faucet: Kohler
Here is a plan to give you an idea of how things are laid out.
BEFORE: Gratuitous cute dog shot. It's hard to believe this is the same space!