November 26, 2008

How To Update A Basement With A Home Office

Q. Our basement is essentially one large square that is currently divided by a sofa to create a recreation room and home office. It is terribly outdated and the office area is a disaster zone. Please help!

— H.E., Peterborough, ON

A. You’re on the right track with the way you are dividing the room into two sections to delineate functions.

From your photos, it appears that one of the most dated items in your basement is the plaid wallpaper, so your makeover process should begin there. Remove the paper, then paint the walls, wainscotting, built-in shelving and cabinets a light neutral cream, such as Benjamin Moore’s Easter Lily (OC-126). This will give the whole room a fresh, open and airy look.

Think about updating your book case/TV unit by painting it white and replacing the hardware with pulls in a satin nickel finish.

To help de-clutter the room, edit out a few of your knickknacks, only keeping a couple of important keepsakes on display. The ceilings in this room are quite low, so you may want to remove any decorative items from the tops of your bookshelves to keep things looking neat and tidy.

With your new cream walls, you may also want to consider painting out your brick fireplace surround in white to help open up the space and make this end of the room appear less heavy.

If you’re planning on replacing your furniture, look for classic pieces — you want them to be comfortable and durable — in a neutral upholstery colour such as taupe or straw. An armchair in a contrasting fabric and pattern will lend some life to the room. Place the armchair perpendicular to the side of the sofa (facing the TV) to create a nice conversation area.

Your current coffee table it too small for the room. Think about replacing it with two upholstered storage cubes (for tucking away magazines and remote controls), which can also act as extra seating when needed. Place an area rug overtop the wall-to-wall carpet, to ground the conversation/seating area and to add warmth to the space.

From your photos, it appears that your desk chair faces the wall. For a more comfortable working set-up, turn your desk and chair around so that the chair back is against the wall. That way, you can watch television or interact with anyone in the room while at the computer. It appears that you have plenty of storage cabinets by your desk which you should take advantage of to help de-clutter the space. Purchase some boxes and small bins to organize your papers and work items inside the cupboards to keep them tucked away, yet accessible. Consider hanging a large mirror on the wall behind the desk to open up the space and reflect the light.