Surprising Storage Solutions Within A Sleek,Stylish Space

The architects converted a rickety staircase into a handsome stairwell with built-in storage space.


Prior to the renovation, the space was chopped into a series of rooms, generally too small to be useful. In order to open it up, Lawrence and Emerson gutted it, then created what they term a “box” in the center of the basement into which they consolidated pipes, electrical wiring and other mechanical necessities. That central piece of construction divides the space into two parts: the kids’ play area, complete with TV, gas fireplace and room for books and toys; and the laundry room/home office.
When the doors are opened, the desk area reveals lighting and storage for office supplies.

The central box also houses a large amount of storage space. On the office side, it includes a built-in desk with cubbies and drawers and extensive closets for clothes. On the other side, an arts and crafts area with a pegboard, shelving and drawers shares space with a sink, mini-fridge and a glass-fronted unit that stores home entertainment equipment. A flat-screen TV hangs above the gas fireplace. 

The other side of the basement offers play space for the children, a flat-screen TV and a gas fireplace.
“We tried to accomplish a sense of open, continuous space,” Emerson says. “But we also wanted to be able to close things off” to reduce clutter. The solution was a sliding door system with seven panels on the laundry room side and five facing the kids’ area. The door panels slide all the way over to one end of the box, where they can be stacked one in front of the other so that they virtually disappear. The doors can be locked in place to secure the desk area.

The designers’ plan ensures that the space can evolve over time. For example, the wall that is now geared towards children will later be converted into a wine rack and wet bar. 

The laundry area boasts an expansive soapstone counter and in-wall cabinetry to the left of the appliances.

Throughout the space, details provide extra functionality. The walls of the kids’ play area are lined with bead board banquettes and bookshelves for storage; these also insulate the foundation wall and conceal a liner that was necessary to protect the existing foundation. The original rickety basement stairway is now an open staircase that admits light from the back basement door; tucked beneath it, a wall of cubbies stores Mary Slimp’s party-planning supplies. 

The floors were lowered a foot to accommodate Ron Slimp’s six-and-a-half-foot height, and the ceiling boards were left bare instead of being covered in dry wall, to give the impression that the ceiling is higher than it is. While the stairway is oak—stained dark to connect with the floors in the rest of the house—the basement floor is cork, which imparts a contemporary feel to the space.

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