A Stylish Basement Redesign A Stylish Basement Redesign

This month we're featuring the work of one of Sheffield's own students, M. Charles Beach, who took the Sheffield Guidelines to Interior Design - function, mood, and harmony - and put his own spin on them with his design business, M. Charles Beach Interiors, LLC, in Framingham, Mass., just outside of Boston.

The first step in taking on a basement makeover, whether it's in your home or a client's home, is to get rid of all those boxes, unused exercise equipment, and your grandmother's lamp collection. We recommend working with the client on sorting through the mountains of stuff, encouraging them to keep the things they really want incorporated into the decor of the home, and allotting one room in the basement just for storage.

After the space is cleared and cleaned, the next step is to install walls, which doesn't need to be expensive as they won't be weight-bearing; they're only going up to divide the space into rooms. One technique, used here, is to install permanent shoji screens, which will be less expensive than hiring a contractor to create walls, but will still provide separate spaces.

First, let's look at the basement as if it's one room, examining the function of the whole underground space. One of the top considerations in analyzing at the function of any room is to see how many roles it can fill, and here Mr. Beach has found just the right way to allow the basement optimum flexibility.

Often any spare space in a home is dedicated to a home office or a guest room. If space is scarce, these have to double up, but the basement can often offer enough room so that two separate areas can be created. That allows privacy for overnight visitors and continued use of the office for homeowner, even when the guest room is in use.

If there isn't a long-term guest staying, the living area can also function as an alternate or additional living room during a big house party, or as a library or media room.

One challenge in a basement room, of course, is providing enough light. Recessed lighting allows for maximum light without creating a harsh mood. The lighting in the living room can be dimmed and the shoji screens on the office closed to allow one person to work in brighter light and the other to relax in dimmer light.

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