a small kitchenette, and an exercise room, in addition to the bedroom and bath.
Trying to work within the confines of ducts, support beams, furnace, and hot water heater, while utilizing existing windows proved to be a challenge. First, I hired a building designer for some basic design ideas. He came up with a couple of plans and showed them to me using his computer-aided (CAD) technology. The virtual visualization was extremely helpful. What looked like an ideal solution on flat paper, felt boxed in and dark in three dimensions. Punt...
Taking another approach, we contacted several reputable builders. Each came, looked at the existing situation; then returned with suggestions and their estimated cost. One builder, Gerald Graham had a plan, personality, and budget which seemed to fit.
However, the design work was not complete. Taking all the permutations into consideration, my husband and I tweaked the plans placing furniture-to-scale on blueprints. Again what looked feasible by dimension, proved cramped in reality. Having the space functional was important enough to have hot water heater and the water softener moved to make room for seating.
Another dilemma was how to handle the load-bearing support beams. Rather than fight the poles, my husband suggested joining them, by mirroring the pillars to form a colonnade.
Our son-in-law suggested opening up the stairway as much as possible. Great idea!
Then, we debated between exposed brick or stone for the wall facing the stairs.Because the outside of the house has brick foundation and stone above, either worked architecturally. However, we chose stone, because of the interesting texture. The electrician installed lighting to highlight the shadows.
When we built our home, I had the builder make the basement a foot higher than normal. That extra foot was a life-saver. Even in areas where duct work dropped the ceiling, the head-height seems normal. Where the ducts descended below an acceptable height, we had the builder add a sleeping alcove.
Next came color selections. Kilim pillows dictated the color scheme.
I carried the pillows to the stone quarry, to the kitchen/bath design studio, and to the paint store. I settled on an off-white paint color with a green undertone. For the columns, I had the painter half the wall color with white, then he halved that color for the ceiling. Although subtle, the same color-family gives the room a uniform appearance.
In the bedroom, by fire code, we had to add a window large enough to be an escape route.
The last room in the downstairs is an exercise area (which needs to get used more often!).
This room is large enough that the treadmill, bike and elliptical fit, and still there is room for twin beds. So, if you've been counting, four grandchildren plus a couple could comfortably stay in the downstairs.