From The Archives: Suzanne Dimma’s Basement Reno
In need of more space in their downtown Toronto house, Suzanne Dimma and her designer husband, Arriz Hassam of Arriz + Co., decided to transform their one-bedroom basement apartment into a bright and multifunctional space. They needed a proper home office with lots of storage, but also wanted to include a condo-style kitchenette, a more efficient laundry area, plus a three-piece bathroom. Inspired by Scandinavian style, Suzanne and Arriz (with the help of H&H design editor Joel Bray, and Rob Huot at Arriz + Co.), devised a lower level that’s awash in a pale but radiant palette. Hits of black and blue and graphic pattern add just the right amount of contrast, and utilitarian elements were given luxe finishes to keep the look from feeling somber. Here are the 10 main steps behind the dramatic transformation.
Tour the space on H&H TV.
Standard solid-core doors were “panelled” using a handsaw to rout grooves for a custom look. A two-coat whitewashed finish amplifies the authentic effect. Pivot hinges allow the doors to open fully when needed. A floating white oak shelf layered with black and white photos creates a welcoming vignette at the bottom of the stairs (background).
In the seating area, white-painted wood panelling from Brenlo provides more depth and character than plain drywall would have. A low foundation shelf was cleverly turned into a built-in bench with the addition of seat cushions and throw pillows.
The designers tore out a closet on the main floor and broke through a wall to create a back-door mudroom that accesses both the main level and basement. The new glass door lets in light, and a heated herringbone-patterned slate floor makes for a warm welcome.
A solid stretch of durable Staron countertop from Ikea runs the length of the home office creating a seamless work surface. Old-school filing cabinets framed by powder-coated steel supports serve as dividers and help conceal plugs and cords. The slender frames of the Japanese-designed white oak office chairs suit the Scandi-modern design of the space.
A ledge along the top portion of the wall provides a spot for curios and inspiration, and a white lacquered tray on the desk houses a tidy grouping of offbeat and stylistic pieces. Textural vessels keep office supplies at the ready.
Running throughout the open space, wide-plank white oak flooring from Moncer is a warm counterpoint to the crisp white panelled walls. The thin profile of the base trim helps create a sense of greater ceiling height. The graceful lines of the oak and walnut caned rocker are reflected in the bold strokes of the oversized blue and white artwork, and together with an industrial-feel floor lamp, they define the modern reading nook.
A foundation ledge along the main hallway is completely concealed by a row of custom bookcases. Suzanne gathered all of the couple’s design and architecture books from throughout the house (it took her 30 trips!) and moved them to the shelves here, turning the narrow space into a design-focused library and resource center.
In the kitchen, Suzanne and Arriz placed upper cabinets directly beneath an immovable bulkhead. Using Ikea components, a frame was built to sit proud of the uppers and wrap around both ends of the counter, creating a design feature. The combination of all-white cabinets, white Staron counters and backsplash and near-invisible hardware enhances the openness of the space, while a black faucet provides contrast.
The reconfigured space below the newly moved vents was the perfect fit for a stacked washer and dryer, leaving more room for floor-to-ceiling cabinets that keep laundry essentials and other household items out of sight. Black hexagonal floor tiles add a graphic punch.
In the bathroom (which includes a tiled walk-in shower), a white oak vanity and lower shelf were designed to line up perfectly with the bulkhead, creating a framed effect. Black hexagonal floor tiles visually link the bathroom to the laundry room, while a single black sconce (repurposed from another room in the house) and black-painted mirror punctuate the glossy subway-tiled wall. A Nuheat system warms the tile floor for a year-round spa-like experience.