The best day of our basement renovation was when Ikea delivered all of the components for the built-ins and the kitchen. It all fit in the newly opened up front room so the installation team could work in the other half of the space comfortably. You've got to love the flat pack!
They were meticulous about making sure everything was perfectly aligned, and in a house that's over 150 years old, this can be tough.
We opted for wood cabinet interiors. I like seeing a wood finish when you open a cupboard door, it just feels more polished.
The outside of the cabinets is a white painted finish. We designed the upper cabinets to tuck in neatly under the newly moved heating vents and included a surrounding fridge that sits just a bit proud from the cabinets — a simple detail that added a custom feel to the kitchen. It's actually great to have a second kitchen downstairs for caterers when we host parties and for storing extra bottles of wine.
Here Ikea's Staron counter is being installed. Amazingly, they brought most of the counters — which were each about 12 feet long — down in single pieces and they went in perfectly! In fact, I had no idea that they had been there that morning — that is how quietly they went in and out.
There were a few seams to blend but they were so meticulous that you can't see a single line.
We tried out a few faucets before committing to the Hovskär by Ikea. The black finish is sharp and modern, and ties in with the other black accents that will be included in the decor.
Here are the work stations with the Staron counters and custom powder-coated metal legs just after they were installed. They effectively hide the basement foundation walls out of sight.
Check out the finished basement in H&H's December 2013 issue, plus an Online TV tour in November.
1-9. Arriz Hassam
And so our basement renovation moves along! (If you missed my previous posts, click here.)
After the drywall went up, it was finally bright and fresh, but a bit on the dull side. Although after all that construction mess, I was happy to see the space this clean.
This is what I call the "sauna" phase, when our 4"-wide panelling from Brenlo went up on most of the walls. This is pre-paint, and it felt like a true '70s basement for a moment. Even unpainted, you can see how much character the panelling added.
Going down the back stairs felt like you were entering a sauna, or a Calvin Klein ad from the early '90s.
This is the other staircase at the front of the house that leads to the laundry room. We're packing this space with oodles of Ikea storage for all of our fabric, tile, wood and paint samples. Plus a few laundry supplies.
And here is our new compact but functional laundry area across from the stairs. The stackable Whirlpool machines are brilliant, and I have to say that I prefer moving clothes in and out of the stackables — way less bending involved. I feel like I've stepped into the future with how well they operate, too. (That's our kitchen sink in the box on the left, ready for the next phase of renos in the upstairs kitchen.)
Another exciting day was when the first two boards of Moncer white oak flooring went down. It was wood overload down there for a moment! But I knew the walls were going to be painted out soon. This flooring is such amazing quality to have in basement and will add so much warmth and richness to the space.
At the back door, we recreated the herringbone pattern that was used in a guest bathroom from the Princess Margaret Hospital lottery showhome last year. We used all of the leftover black slate from our cottage shower, which I was thrilled about as I really hate having unused materials after a project. We heated the floors with Nuheat under-floor heating (you can see the coils by the door in this photo). It will come in handy for keeping the floor dry and warm in the winter. I love this hit of pattern right when you walk in.
And here is the bathroom almost finished! The back-mount Duravit sink sits on top of a floating white oak vanity that matches our Moncer flooring perfectly. And the Bestlite sconce that used to be in our bedroom feels right at home here.
And here are the walls with the first coat of Benjamin Moore's Cloud White (CC-40) paint on the panelling — so much brighter! The entire space will be Cloud White (always my go-to white paint). And it's the perfect choice for brightening up a basement.
Check in Friday, July 5th for the photos of the new basement kitchen!
Arriz Hassam & Suzanne Dimma
For those of you who read my blog post way back when about my pending basement reno, you already saw the befores of the former one-bedroom apartment that used to occupy the lower level of our Toronto home. We've decided to turn it into a functional office space instead.
Here's a quick recap of what it used to look like with its crammed corner kitchen, builder-basic bathroom, dark bedroom with rickety shelves and tired wall-to-wall carpet, tiny living room with too many drywalled vents that lowered the ceiling height, a dreary laundry room and the dated entryway.
The demolition process is always a stressful mess, but it's also liberating. There was dust everywhere and it crept up through the floorboards to the rest of our house. But it was exciting to see the whole space transform as the walls came down. We opened up the old kitchen and living area to reveal how big the main room would be (once the furnace was relocated).
I loved how open the area looked when the bathroom walls were out.
We had to break up all of the old 2" white ceramic tile, and here you can see the framing for the new shower.
Garbage bag after garbage bag was filled with the torn-up carpet and old linoleum tile underneath it.
We stored all of our basement stuff under one of the staircases with a bit of plastic on top. Needless to say, it got super dusty too and there were a few times when I needed to dig through the plastic to find something.
Here are the ceiling vents with the drywall removed, right before we shifted them over to the new furnace room. You can see how much headroom they took up right down the middle of the hall.
This was probably the messiest day — when the ceiling was taken down.
Here you can actually see the furnace in its new home next to the hot water tank by the front staircase — so much more efficient to keep all of the hard-working parts together.
The cats were totally confused when we ripped out the closet at the back staircase to open up the basement to the first floor and reveal the stairs hidden underneath.
The laundry room was even off limits so I had to take our laundry to my parent's place for a while.
Stay tuned June 21st for photos of the drywall progress and July 5th for the kitchen installation.
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.