Brian Droege ,


Brian Droege ,

An ugly duckling basement gets a main-floor-worthy makeover

  • Article by: Connie Nelson
  • Star Tribune
  • January 21, 2009 - 8:03 AM

The challenge: To update a tired, catch-all of a basement and turn it into a multifunctional space where a south Minneapolis family could watch TV and entertain casually and where their teenage son could study, hang out with friends and practice on his drum set.

The designer: Mary Jane Pappas of Pappas Design Studio, 763-377-9870,

Please be seated: Rather than put up walls, Pappas used furniture to create distinct areas. The large sectional forms the backbone of the TV area, which includes an eclectic, Asian-influenced occasional chair. The sofa table, situated at the back of one section of the sofa, welcomes you into the space.

Focal point: Pappas designed a mahogany wall unit to house the flat-screen TV. The large, stylish piece, which anchors the TV area, provides storage and plenty of display space for the family's colorful collection of pots.

Dry up: To rid the basement of moisture problems, a contractor removed the concrete from the periphery and installed drain tiles. He also built new walls with foam insulation and added a vapor barrier under the sheetrock.

The right light: Pappas added wall sconces and recessed ceiling lights, but she didn't want to make the area too bright. "If you're going to watch TV, you want a dark area," she said.

Special features: The cork floor provides a layer of insulation, which helps keep the room warm, and muffles sound, a plus when the couple's son plays his drums. A soffit adds interest to the ceiling and hides messy-looking mechanicals.

Unconventional colors: Instead of trying to use only light colors to lighten the space, Pappas chose colors that create a lively contrast. The dark chocolate sectional sofa, mahogany wall unit and red cork floor add interest when paired with the light rug and the cream-colored walls and ceiling.

Divide and conquer: By carving a TV area and small study (not shown) out of the large room, Pappas was able to leave open space behind the sofa, which allows for unimpeded access to the bathroom, laundry room and storage area and still leaves room for jamming.

The next frontier: In a tough economy, Pappas said basements are becoming hot property. "People are starting to see them as valuable real estate," she said. "You can expand by using an existing space and rethinking it."

To submit before-and-after photos of a redecorated or remodeled room, send uncompressed jpeg images to Please include your name and phone number.

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