One of the biggest challenges facing us in our basement is the way we live versus the actual space available: it’s essentially two bog standard adjoining rooms, perfect for a kitchen and dining room.  However, we like to cook, dine, socialise and play in this space (with the addition of stepping out into the garden from the patio doors in the warmer months) and the space available to do this is pretty limited.

Throw in our inability to tidy up and you end up with a scene like this, which is how the lounge looked before we renovated:

Chaos in the old lounge set up – look closely and you will see a toddler hiding in that green box, no doubt wishing herself away to somewhere tidier and calmer

It was a whirling mess of furniture, exercise equipment, toys and armchairs.  Despite the proliferation of Ikea Kallax units, stuff was scattered everywhere and it served only as an obstacle course to clamber through in order to get to the kitchen.

When the kitchen was replaced, there were no structural plans for the lounge area.  However, it was a great opportunity to clear out, redecorate, repaint the floor and have a think about how to make better use of the space.  The area in the foreground in the photo above was going to be taken up by the new dining area, leaving an even smaller space to play around with, so some serious clearing out had to take place.

I started by getting rid of as much furniture (and the contents) as possible.  Virtually everything you see in the photo below was sold or given away: the dresser and cupboard were sold, the Ercol chairs (which were never going to be restored by me) were given to my father in law, and the Kallax units were sent upstairs to the kids’ bedroom.  The stuff we needed to hang onto was either put into the improved storage in the kitchen, the utility room or the remodelled under stairs cupboard (which I will talk about next time!)

The sight that welcomed you as you came down the stairs into the basement

Once the new kitchen was complete and the tools and building materials were removed from the basement, we were able to completely clear the room and repaint the walls and floors (brilliant white on the walls and Farrow & Ball Off White on the floor).  At some point we’ll get around to painting the patio doors too but that’s a project for another time.

All repainted and ready to start again

The living space is broadly split between lounge for the grown ups and a playing area for our two small children so I tried to zone the areas into clearly defined spaces.  The alcove to the left of the chimney breast is for creative work while the old fireplace itself houses an Ikea Duktig kitchen (as yet uncustomised, another of my failures as a creative parent)


The remaining area on the opposite side of the room is defined by a La Redoute rug  which was bought in the sale.  It wasn’t the most practical option due to its light colour and longer pile but if feels cosy and I liked the subtle contrast it made with the white painted floor.  The area defined by the rug is furnished with a pair of upgraded Ercol armchairs (restored by someone less lazy than myself) and a G Plan table with a handy magazine shelf.

The fabric on the wall above the table is an olive green David Whitehead barkcloth remnant with a subtle tree print on it.  There’s lots of framed fabric dotted around the basement and I thought it would be nice to keep a general nature theme going, so this was perfect.  The kids’ corner has framed fabric too: a vintage David Whitehead remnant of yellow poppies in a meadow.

A tranquil area from which to watch the children gently play on the other side of the room – hah!

I would love to tell you that the new lounge never gets untidy and that we sit there in our armchairs watching the children play in their little corner of the room but in reality the baby is normally lying under the coffee table ripping up magazines she’s pulled off the rack while Clover is casually dropping unlidded felt pens onto the rug or trying to use the chairs as a trampoline.  But it’s much more easy to tidy up these days and works well despite the restricted space.

Defined spaces for living and playing