If you read my previous basement blog post, you've already seen the before shots of the basement that used to be an apartment. Now we're renovating it into a proper home office. Things are already underway with gutting the space, but I thought I would show you a few of our inspiration photos for the final look.
To help get you oriented, here is the existing layout:
And here is the new layout that Arriz has been working on:
The basement has pretty decent ceiling height already, but in order to maximize head room as much as possible and to save costs involved in digging down further, we've relocated the furnace and ductwork to the outside walls. You can see how moving the furnace opens up the space. We probably saved about $30,000 in choosing not to dig down — and avoided creating a massive mess in the already landscaped backyard. My plan is to play up the low ceilings and cosiness with plenty of texture.
The thing I am most excited about is our new back entry. This is the floor plan and the elevation of that area. We've mapped out a herringbone-style slate floor, inspired by one of the bathrooms at last year's Princess Margaret Hospital showhome, using some slate that we have leftover from when we built our shower at the cottage, (Browse photos of our cottage here.)
The herringbone will resemble this photo.
I've been inspired by a super simple and clean Scandinavian-modern style for the overall look — think white oak floors, crisp white walls punctuated by black accents and modern iconic furniture. In a basement where light can be scarce, I think it's smart to go for an open, light look. I saved this inspiration photo from the book Timeless Architecture & Interiors (2008 Beta-Plus Publishing).
This is another inspiration shot I pulled — for the white built-ins and freestanding furniture paired with a bit of white oak on the shutters.
To add texture and elevate the look of the basement, we're installing vertical panelling like this on almost every wall and customizing the doors in a similar fashion for a bit of character — so much nicer than basic drywall.
Thom Filicia's American Beauty (2012 Potter Style) was a terrific source of inspiration as he works with panelling quite extensively throughout the book.
When I saw this staircase online (right), I did a double take because it's so similar in layout to our staircase from the back door landing (left). I'm hoping that ours will have a similar feel — including the custom railing.
We've ordered Moncer wide-plank flooring in white oak for the entire basement. It was a bit of a splurge but, with everything else being white, the floor had to be amazing. Plus the space will be taking some wear and tear and we wanted a top quality floor choice that could handle it.
We still want a kitchen in our basement — it's great to have additional storage space. Plus, I think it will add to the value of our house should we ever sell, since the new homeowners would have the flexibility of using the basement as a nanny's suite, a kid's play area, or turning it back into a rental unit.
We've designed the kitchen to run along one wall so it takes up very little visual space and blends neatly into the background. We're going for all-white cabinetry from Ikea. After all, we are going for a Scandi look!
I like the look of Ikea's Akurum horizontal cabinets with the matte finish Applåd doors. The narrow profile is perfect for the basement's lower ceiling and the matte finish has a sophisticated, contemporary look. We aren't installing butcherblock counters like in this photo, but I like the cabinets and seamless cooktop here. For countertops, we chose Ikea's white Staron so everything will blend together. We're also using Staron for all the long desk surfaces. It's a perfect material for a working area as the surface is super smooth and easy to clean.
Because the second phase of the reno involves turning the upstairs den into our principal bedroom, I'm planning on moving the Nelson Saucer Lamp that's there now down to the new mudroom. And I'm going to move the chandelier that's in the kitchen up to the bedroom. I'm actually doing major lamp, hardware, furniture and carpet shifts throughout the house so there isn't any waste on things I've already purchased — so much better to repurpose than discard!
These BestLite BL6 Wall Lamps are moving from our current bedroom (soon to be a walk-in closet!) down to the basement. The general idea is chrome in the basement and gold and brass upstairs.
We copied H&H art director Mandy Milks's bathroom reno with this wall-mounted sink from Duravit and Kohler faucet (but ours will be chrome). Our sink won't be floating, but this is a great trick to open up floor space in a small bathroom. (Take a video tour of Mandy's bathroom here.)
We're going to sit our sink on a floating vanity similar to these.
We're also using the black hex ceramic tile on the bathroom floor as a continuum from our upstairs hall. You may have seen this hall when we shot our house for Christmas a few years back.
In keeping with the overall look, we're going for a Scandi-modern style with our furniture choices. With so many built-ins, we'll need to work in some freestanding character pieces. But again, we are going to try to repurpose things we have. This sofa and chair from our upstairs den (this room has had a few incarnations!) will be moved down to the basement.
This is another incarnation of the same den. The vintage desk and the patterned carpet will also be repurposed in the basement.
I love the modern clock in Sally Armstrong's kitchen and have kept a wall blank to house the same one in our basement.
For the laundry area, we're upgrading to this state-of-the-art set of steam clean precision dispense front-loaders from Whirlpool. I love that they can stack, and then if we relocate or renovate again (god forbid), we have lots of flexibility with how they can be configured.
Stay tuned for my next blog about the demolition! It's hard to believe this space is going to look like the inspiration in this blog.
Don't miss Suzanne's basement before photos.
1-3. Arriz Hassam
4. Pinterest, unknown original source
5. Timeless Architecture & Interiors, Yearbook 2009 (2008 Beta-Plus Publishing)
6. Desire to Inspire, photography by Bieke Claessens
7. Pinterest, unknown original source
8. Thom Filicia's American Beauty (2012 Potter Style)
9a. Suzanne Dimma
9b. Esquisse blog
10. Remodelista, photography by Macdonald Wright Architects
11a. From Scandinavia With Love blog
11b. Akurum cabinets, Ikea
12. Nelson Saucer Lamp, Y Living
13. BestLite BL6 Wall Lamps, Nest
14. House & Home March 2013 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
15a. Metropolitan Home via Plush Palate blog
15b. Timeless Architecture & Interiors, Yearbook 2009 (2008 Beta-Plus Publishing)
16. House & Home November 2010 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
17. House & Home August 2009 issue, photography by Angus Fergusson
18. Houseandhome.com, photography by Michael Alberstat
19a. Charles Eames Style Chair, Chair Outlet
19b. Wegner Easy Chair, Design Within Reach
20. House & Home February 2013 issue, photography by Virginia Macdonald
21. Duet Steam Front Load Washer, Whirlpool
22. Suzanne Dimma
A few weekends ago, in anticipation of the stressful home renovations we're doing in the next few months, Arriz and I headed out to Langdon Hall in Cambridge, Ontario, for a bit of pampering and R&R. After months of planning the drawings and shifting the contents of our house around, we were already in need of a mini break.
It was so elegant and lovely — I called it my Downton Abbey weekend! If you have never been to Langdon Hall, it is a lovely chateau in south western Ontario, and it's an amazingly relaxing experience — especially if you love food and spa services! It's now my new quick getaway destination. I can't believe I'd never been before!
Two of my favourite rooms at Langdon Hall are the sun porch (left) where they serve a traditional afternoon high tea and the bar lounge outside the main dining room. Arriz and I ate our dessert in front of that fireplace after dinner one night. With no one else in the room it felt very regal.
The staircase up to the guest rooms features charming details like 3/4 panelled walls and a plate rail filled with an array of plate styles. And I particularly liked the black Celtic-feeling newel post.
Arriz and I played a couple of rounds in the billiards room (he's a shark, I'm terrible). I love the green-on-green impact of the walls, lights and tabletop and even the coffered ceiling. Such an authentic English space made complete with the oil painting, extra large fireplace and panelled walls.
Wine tastings are held in the red dining room where there's yet another fireplace. Langdon Hall boasts 58 woodburning fireplaces, which makes it the perfect cosy winter retreat.
This is a private dining room for special occasions. I always get excited to see so much cutlery on a table and the diagonal rows of wine glasses. You know there are a myriad of flavours to come.
This is the dining room that overlooks the garden. It must be gorgeous in the summer time. While we were dining, I commented that the set-up was impeccable; just the right amount of space between the tables and the right overall number in the room, too. There's energy but you still have privacy. We had a fabulous meal here on Saturday night. Arriz had the tasting menu and the chef adjusted my meal to match his pacing. We ate for three hours!
After all that food, we wanted to sleep, and I think the highlight of our stay was our room. We had a recently renovated room in the main house on the second floor above the entry. It was lovely and serene in shades of taupe and pale blue-green.
Here is a close-up of the matelassé coverlet and linens. I cannot rave enough about this bedding — it was gloriously comfortable. I truly had the best sleep I've ever had in my life. Quite frankly, I would happily have stayed in bed my entire time there.
The two chairs at the end of the bed were a cosy spot to watch TV and have a glass of wine. I would love to know where this textured tone-on-tone stripe fabric came from. They're essentially open-armed wingbacks — such a perfect balance of open and closed design — comfortable without overwhelming the space.
This delicious tart with homemade honey was waiting for us in our room when we arrived. Arriz ate it while I was having my massage, so I didn't actually get to try it!
Our room featured a number of charming details including this antique demilune table topped with a looking glass on a pedestal and a quad of four green bird prints. And of course our room also had a fireplace. If you ask, they will light the fire for you before you head up to bed.
I'm a total bath person so I was elated to see the clawfoot tub in the bathroom. There was also a large glass shower for my hubby (a shower person!). The inset tile work carpet detail was exquisite, as was the Victoria & Albert French faucet.
The floating vanity kept the bathroom feeling open. It was kitted out with bath salts in apothecary jars, pretty soaps and towel bars along the front for easy access.
Our room featured this separate entry with a panelled closet door, marble-topped luggage area and this full cleaning and coffee station. So efficient!
Brass doorknobs and chunky curtain rods with full pinch-pleat silk drapes added to all the special touches.
In the morning we enjoyed more fantastic food. Our eggs came in an iron skillet served on an artist's palette.
And post-breakfast we attended a cooking class where we learned to prepare some of the dishes we ate the night before.
We spent Sunday exploring the grounds. A bowl of red apples is kept by the main door for a snack while you stroll.
I adored this Camperdown Elm tree with its wide canopy out back where I could envision people dining alfresco in the summer.
As we walked we spotted this massive pile of logs — presumably to keep all the fires burning in the rooms.
It was a hazy day but there was a quiet, stripped back beauty to the paths all around the property.
Just like Lord Grantham's yellow Lab on Downton Abbey, Langdon Hall has its own resident dog, a gorgeous Bernese mountain dog.
All in all, a much-needed weekend of relaxation. I definitely recommend booking a weekend this winter if you're in the area.
Stay tuned for my first blog post documenting the beginning of our reno stress, the basement demolition!
This winter, my husband Arriz (Arriz+co.) and I are diving into our basement renovation. After six years of living with a tenant down there, we decided to take over the space and turn it into a working home office that will also house our laundry and storage rooms. There will still be a 3-piece bathroom and a kitchenette, so that if we ever decide to sell, the space can also work as a nanny suite.
Here is what we're working with:
The entrance to the basement from our backyard. It is so uninspired and the green tumbled slate tiles and pine treads are entirely dated. To the left there will be a new 3-step stair case leading into the home's upper level.
In doing this we'll have to get rid of the built-in cat litter boxes and closet by our back door to create flow between floors. I can't tell you how excited we are to be able to keep the cat litter on the lower level of the house! And we'll finally have a proper mudroom. No more tramping snow and ice onto the hardwood when we come home.
This is the second "secret" staircase that leads to our laundry room at the other end of the basement. It is super narrow so I think we'll only use it on the odd occasion once the reno is complete. Our plan is to open things up in here a bit and get rid of the builder-basic doors and railings.
And this is the old laundry room. Totally boring! Yellowed vinyl tiles, leftover kitchen cabinets and no work surfaces. Not a happy place to do laundry.
My former tenant used this space as a living room. As you can see, it's fairly small and there are some unfortunate vents that make the room low and awkward. A huge portion of our reno involves moving the vents to maximize the ceiling height. The furnace sits behind the futon here and by moving it to an outside wall, this room will double in size.
Here is a shot back into the living room. The wall on the right is the furnace room that will be torn out — along with that old wall to wall carpet!
This tiny corner kitchen will be ripped out and the space will be opened up to the old living room.
There is a long hall (with more vinyl tile) that connects the bedroom to the living room and kitchen. The door on the left is the bathroom but it will have to move locations in the new plan. And as you can see, the basement has low foundation bench walls around the periphery, as it was never fully dug down. But we've decided not to dig down any further. For our needs, the extra cost (about $40,000!) is not worth it. Instead our goal is to move the vents to the side, minimize the foundation benches by hiding them behind built-ins and panelling, and then play up the cosiness and layer in some character.
This is the current bedroom that will also be opened up and all of those bookshelves have to go, not to mention the bad basement window in here.
This is the totally awkward bedroom closet that will be torn out.
The bathroom is a decent size but nondescript — pretty much builder-basic, especially the tub. In the new scheme, there will be a walk-in shower in place of the tub.
Stay tuned for my roundup of inspiration shots for the basement reno, coming soon! Plus, learn tips from H&H editors for renovating basements.
Two weeks ago I flew into beautiful Vancouver for the West Coast Interior Design Show (IDSwest) and had such a fantastic time. I fell in love with our west coast all over again.
My colleague Mark Challen and I checked in to the Loden Hotel, which was stunning and perfect for our design-filled trip. (Madonna's back-up dancers were even staying there for her tour stop in Vancouver that weekend!)
On Friday night, Ross Bonetti — of Vancouver's Livingspace — took us out on the town for a lovely dinner. His booth at the show (top right) was gorgeous!
I had lunch with Janis Nicolay, as well — a favourite photographer of House & Home's and also a design-savvy blogger. This is a scan of her charming 3" x 3" business card with a photo she took in Vancouver's Chinatown.
The Vancouver Convention Centre, where the show took place, features this stunning wall of end-cut wood.
This was a 150-year-old spruce stump in Brent Comber's booth.
This work of organic optical art, also by Brent Comber, is made from wood end-cuts and almost looks like corks.
I love this glass dome trend (we also forecasted it in our upcoming December 2012 issue), and this striking table would look great in an entryway.
That brass hood ties in with the gold details on the grill. And these striking contemporary stools suit the space perfectly.
Kelly's sketches are works of art in themselves!
Trade shows like this are also great sources of inspiration for display. The Montauk Sofa booth designers posted pads of paper with their furniture spec sheets to the wall, and hung others from clips overhead. Brilliant!
I spotted this stylish guy just outside the booth and thought he should move in.
This gorgeous white oak table from IZM had beautiful detailing like rounded corners and curved joinery at the bottom of the trestle base.
We spotted these cool stump tables mixed with white resin from MTH Woodworks.
This student exhibit featured these terrific desk lamps with a vintage feel. (Does anyone know who I can credit for this green lamp?! Comment below.)
This Nordic-inspired chair from Inform Interiors could fit right into our trends package — coming out in our January 2013 issue. Scandinavian style is everywhere!
Mark and I both loved these plywood wall cutouts from Precisionwerkz — an easy way to add texture to a room.
Look who we hooked up with for a Montauk party! Tommy Smythe himself.
This is a rendering from Michelle Morelan of Michelle Morelan Design. We met this talented designer and blogger at the Blend 2012 event (#blend2012) hosted at the luxe St. Regis Hotel. A special thanks to Madeline from Ikea Canada for organizing, and Ikea Canada for sponsoring the blogger event.
I wrapped up the weekend with a long walk along the sea wall. Why don't I live here?!
For more on IDSwest, check out more of our top finds in this video.
1-2. Loden Hotel
3b. Suzanne Dimma
4. Janis Nicolay
5-11. Suzanne Dimma
12. Rendering by Kelly Deck
13-21. Suzanne Dimma
22. Rendering by Michelle Morelan
23. Hodge:Podge By Markova Design, photography by Barbara Matson
24. Suzanne Dimma
My family and I rented this amazing old house on the shores of Chester, Nova Scotia — my favourite summertime destination after my first love, France. If you're planning a trip out east this summer, check out the annual summer sailing regatta in Chester during the second week of every August — not to be missed! Summers on the East Coast are so relaxing — a bit of a throw back in time, if you will. The pace is a little slower, the people are friendly and the homes are full of charming details.
Here are a few snaps of the old house that, while slightly worse for years of loving wear, still maintained its laid back East Coast charm. It was a true testament to the beauty of imperfection.
Here is the view of the white clapboard home perched up high on a hill overlooking a quiet bay of the Atlantic ccean, complete with a double-decker front porch.
This was the view to the peninsula dotted with so many stunning homes. And what front deck isn't complete without an old wicker rocker? The extra-long painted bench framed the windows nicely.
This was the view in the other direction — you can see we were perched up high for spectacular views all around.
We often had dinner out on the porch at this tiny table with old-school fold up chairs so we could enjoy the sunset.
The glass sunroom, tiny covered veranda and sweeping green lawn added to the home's charm.
The beach was a bit of a downward hike, but well worth it once you got there. And check out the gorgeous boathouse!
This was one of the bedrooms on the second floor, complete with matelassé bedding, a pale dhurrie rug, cotton tieback curtains and spooled antique furniture. The pale blue walls reflected the East Coast light for a magical, serene effect. I never had trouble falling asleep in this room. This was the writing desk in my bedroom. I actually wrote one of my editor's letters from here!
One of the other bedrooms featured this floral wallpaper wrapped up over the attic ceiling and a pretty green ladder back chair.
The same sort of sparseness ruled in the dining room as well. The house was filled with antique hooked rugs, which added to the vintage charm of each room. And I'm a sucker for an original built-in corner cabinet — not to mention a display of blue and white china.
Simple wicker chairs were right at home in this sitting room.
I love the brick surround on the fireplace and the simple beauty of just a few found rocks on top of the mantel. And every East Coast home must have some sort of seagull reference!
They also had these vintage royal plates on display — I love how decrepit they are. And the house was filled with all sorts of lovely original hardware like this oval doorknob.
The original pantry was one of the home's highlights with its horizontal backsplash, luggage pulls and toggle locks. And as much as the kitchen sink was a bit too much of a throwback, I kind of loved how the blue and white ruffled curtains made it feel special.
See our Best Of The East photo gallery for more gorgeous East Coast style.
Last spring I spent a weekend getaway at the gorgeous Gansevoort beach resort in Turks and Caicos. It is essentially a boutique hotel with an condo ownership angle, where people interested in investing can buy a unit and the hotel takes care of renting it out to vacationers when you're not there. It's a great concept, but I was more taken with the beachy vibe and how to bring it back home. Unfortunately, my laptop broke down recently and I lost several of my personal photos of this trip — so frustrating! But I managed to retrieve a few, plus the Gansevoort website is pretty great, too.
For vacationers, the intimate resort feels more like your own private condo than a hotel experience, with the design centred around a gorgeous turquoise blue pool complete with floating decks and palm trees.
The pool and the view to the ocean beyond is the first thing you see as you walk into the lobby. I loved the open wicker chairs and the front desk wrapped in wood siding.
Here are a few of my favourite angles of the pool. The billowy white drapes that framed the openings of the arcade beautifully. As you walked by, the breeze would blow them softly for a lovely romantic effect.
At night, the pool was illuminated with soft candle light, turning it into an oasis of sorts.
There were two restaurants on site — one by the pool and one by the beach. Both offered my kind of food: super healthy, fresh, with plenty of seafood. You can see that all of the furniture is on the streamlined, contemporary side — lots of wood and all-weather wicker paired with crisp white, a fail-safe beach look. The key to this look is the hits of greenery in the palm trees that offered pops of colour and created cool shade.
Of course the highlight of any stay in Turks is the beach. I took this shot early in the morning before the sun came up fully and it was such a pretty combo of pale pink sky and light blue water.
And this was my room, a one bedroom suite complete with a kitchen (featuring Miele appliances), dining area, lounge, full patio accessed through large sliding glass doors, laundry facilities and a standout washroom all within a spacious open-concept floor plan. The designer did a great job of making the suites feel like an extension of the beach — as if you had never left when you went back to your room. The sand-coloured floor tile mirrored the white sand beach and the turquoise accents reflected the turquoise blue water. Of course the unencumbered view also helped to magnify the connection.
This is what one of the penthouse suites looked like — same idea only more square footage and an amazing view.
The spa with its indoor/outdoor setup offered amazing treatments, but to me the best feature was the open-air outdoor gym with its ipe wood floor where incredibly challenging core fusion and yoga classes were offered. I actually picked up a series of core fusion DVDs to do the classes at home. I am addicted!
Since we were only on the island for three nights, we pretty much hunkered down at the Gansevoort. We did go down the beach one night to eat at the famous Conch Shack, where the island vibe was totally old-school authentic right down to the white painted picnic benches and conch-lined wooden walkways.
Tropical Style at Home
After my weekend getaway, I was inspired to recreate the beach look at home (and find ways to do it well). Here are a few gorgeous examples that I was able to find in the H&H archives and online:
Toronto designer Michelle Lloyd is a master of casual, beachy style. She created a tropical vibe with a white backdrop and wicker accents at her weekend home on Lake Simcoe. I love the hula skirt-style raffia umbrellas.
And here's a peek inside the cottage, where a mid-century daybed blends seamlessly with a wicker elephant table.
Lloyd cleverly used tatami-style mats on the walls in the bathroom to create a chair-rail effect — fun, affordable and stylish. The Greek key in turquoise at the top of the curtain introduces another hit of blue in an unexpectedly urban pattern.
Somehow the beach conjures up the idea of sleeping in the sand, so the lower the bed, the better! Lloyd covered her bed in crisp, all-white linens for a fresh feel.
Turquoise Pucci towels on matching chaises make this all-white rooftop deck seem more like a mini spa — this time with a Miami vibe. I love the round mirror to conjure up a sense of the sun. Designed by Michelle Lloyd from our 2007 Bedrooms special issue.
Designer Lisa Rogers' spacious deck with streamlined furnishings and view to the water almost feels like you're on a tropical getaway. Can you believe it's actually in Etobicoke on Lake Ontario's shoreline? The palm to the left and tall lanterns on dedicated ottomans add to the tropical vibe.
A bunkie or lakeside shed is the perfect spot for beach style. Here blue and white bamboo-patterned fabric and raffia fringed pillows add to the look. But it's the giant marlin and the branch support that packs the most impact.
New York designer Brad Ford created a subtle beachy look with this all-white sun porch complete with suspended sofas. This reminds me of the swings you might have found on the front porches of the original plantation homes in the south, but updated with a modern spin — so much fun for kids!
Of course collections of seashells and rocks are a must.
If all else fails, paint your walls in a soft grey-blue and bring an ocean palette inside like the owners of this seaside Nova Scotia home did. Then drive it home with a blue carpet. A bit of coral goes a long way, too.
See our Seaside-Inspired Interiors photo gallery for even more beachy inspiration.
1, 2, 3 (centre), 4, 5 (left), 6 (left), 10-13. Courtesy of Gansevoort Turks and Caicos
3 (left, right), 5 (right), 6 (right), 7-9. Suzanne Dimma
14-15. Courtesy of Da Conch Shack
16. House & Home Bedrooms 2007 special issue, photography by Stacey Brandford
17. House & Home January 2007 issue, photography by James Tse
18-21. House & Home July 2007 issue, photography by Stacey Brandford
22. House & Home January 2007 issue, photography by Mark Burstyn
23. Designed by Brad Ford, via Matilda Rose Interiors
24 (left). House & Home July 2008 issue, photography by Andrew Waller
24 (right). House & Home October 2008 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
25. House & Home June 2009 issue, photography by Janet Kimber