Pete’s basement: before and after. Or there’s no such thing as a “small” project.

Women call it “nesting.” Men call it… well… I’m not really sure that we have a word for it.

The term “man caving” is pretty repulsive, so let’s call it “throwing money down a well.” That kinda sums it up, don’t you think ?

Occupying fully nine months of planning, designing, managing contractors, perusing galleries and wandering showrooms, not to mention more resources than could ever be considered “rational,” my recently completed basement renovationi should serve as a further reminder that, just as there’s no such thing as “minor” surgery, there’s no such thing as a “small” project – there are only projects.

Without further ado, here’s what the basement looked like before we moved in…

Basement before - 4

Basement before - 5

And then shortly after we moved in with the miscellaneous bits and bobs from our old place, all sort of haphazardly thrown in to fill the new space.

Basement before - 1
Basement before - 3

Basement before - 2

Basement before - 5

And then came the BCrash airdrop/windfall (among other things, including a fair degree of interest in managing a detail-oriented project of my own) and then there was some designing…

Basement design - 5
Basement design - 3

Basement design - 1
Basement design - 2
Basement design - 4

And here’s what it looks like now!

Basement after - 8
Basement after - 9

Basement after - 7

Basement after - 4
Basement after - 2
Basement after - 5
Basement after - 3
Basement after - 6

Basement after - 1

With this project completed, we’re definitely making the most out of the square footage in our compact little 1960’s bungalow. The basement is mostly used as a nursery at present,ii but that’ll change in the next year or so when the boys start sharing a bedroom. Once that transition is made, the basement will return to its function as a spare bedroom,iii storage space for extra books and toys, and the entertainment room. The upstairs is where the living room, kitchen, bedrooms, and my study are located, so there’s plenty of functionality crammed into this little 1`100 sft footprint. It’s not much, really, certainly not in the grand scheme of things, but it’s more than plenty for us.

Now on the off-chance that anyone cares, for those keeping track or *gasp* drawing inspiration from such things, the furniture and art were sourced thusly :

Couch – Mah Jongiv by Roche Boboisv
Standing Lamp – Totem by Roche Bobois
Millwork – Custom 1 3/4″ Thick Solid Maple and Walnut Units by Oliver Apt.
Credenza/Changing Table – Heirloom of unknown origin
Bedroom Storage Unit – Besta by IKEA
Murphy Bed – Cielo Oak by Bestar
Rocking Chair – Comfort Classico by Dutalier
Area Rugs – IKEA
Marble Sculpture – Dancing Bear (2017) by Billy Merkosakvi
Triptych – Specific 1-3 (2017) by Cory Nespor
Print – Caterpillar (2017) signed and numbered by Eric Carle
Poster – Among Trees You Are At Home (1999) embossed print by Hundertwasser

Other odds and sods – like the pot lights, barn door, added sound insulation in the ceiling cavity and dozens of other details both large and small – were less glamorous but no less important to the rather stunning transformation from dismal dungeon to delightful den.

The finished product is a place I actually want to spend time in now, and one in which I hope to do exactly that for many years to come! Isn’t that what nests wells are for ?
___ ___ ___

  1. And only half of my basement at that! God help you try to design a whole house without a proper architect to guide you. Even experienced landlords aren’t accustomed to sweating the details the way homeowners expect. It’s no wonder that residential architects and contractors aren’t commercial ones and vice versa. The level of nitty gritty detail is just that much higher in residential projects (and not always for the better) that it requires a very special kind of patience to execute.  
  2. So that Pete sleeps largely uninterrupted at night – a far cry (har) from the situation with our first, when we shared the intranocturnal responsibilities far more evenly.
  3. Since we don’t have central A/C, the spare bedroom in the basement is where I spent a good portion of last summer escaping the high temperatures (and long daylight hours) of the main floor master bedroom.
  4. The Mah Jong was designed by Hans Hopfer (not to be confused with Hans-Hermann Hoppe!!) in 1971 but these new velour-like fabrics were designed by Kenzo Takada in 2017. We didn’t pick the fabrics because we like Kenzo better than JPG or Missoni or anything like that, but rather because they were the hardest wearing (100k Martindale). Our boys are boys, not little old ladies in Beverly Hills.
  5. While this was the Italian-made piece(s) of furniture alluded to this past spring, pictures really don’t do the Mah Jong justice. It really does make a perfect centrepiece for the (very fortunate) family. Each cushion is an identical 95cm x 95cm x 19cm shape and therefore easily flippable for when chocolate milk or red wine inevitably ruin a surface, and if you double up on the cushion colours as I have, you have a total of four seating surfaces in each colour with which to swap out as you go! Even after that, there’s always reupholstering or even adding and expanding to the total, meaning that the Mah Jong can grow and evolve into a new space down the road with the most minimal of effort.

    And could a kid dream of a better basis for a couch fort ?! I think not.

  6. Who you’ll surely recognise from Iqaluit.

7 thoughts on “Pete’s basement: before and after. Or there’s no such thing as a “small” project.

  1. Vexual says:

    groovy den

  2. […] seems to be an above-average ask by a factor of 2-10x. Hey, who told this guy I can afford nice things ? […]

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  4. […] much more for what it is : an object of craftsmanship, enduring quality, and, yes, beauty. And you largely keep it to yourself, downplaying it if […]

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  6. […] its off-hand mention last week, you might be wondering what the world’s most luxe “couch fort” looks like in the cloth. Well, here are a few iterations, permutations, and combinations of […]

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