The mission: Homeowners Robyn and Mark Churchill rarely used the dark partially finished basement in their 1950s Colonial in Edina. Although sparingly furnished with a TV and sofa, it was uninviting, outdated and cold. Robyn usually headed down to the basement just to do laundry or to store stuff. But as their family grew, they decided it was time to make the most of the extra space.

The sports-loving couple wanted to create a comfortable family room to watch TV sports and movies, and to play games with family and friends.

And, as wine connoisseurs, they also wanted to carve out an adjacent wine cellar to store their collection. Finally, they planned to add a guest bedroom and bathroom at the far end of the basement.



The team: Mark Peterson, designer and owner of MA Peterson Design Build, Edina, Interior design by M. Gilbertson Design, Eden Prairie,


Wide open spaces: To create one multifunctional great room and wine cellar, Peterson removed an existing steel beam that hung from the ceiling, a post and wall. “We recessed the new beam to take away a visual obstacle and make the room feel larger.”

To gain more ceiling height, Peterson lowered the new concrete floor 7 inches. He also rerouted the heating and air-conditioning ductwork to the perimeter of the basement.


Basement sports bar: Mark got the idea for three TVs built into a superlong wall from a Houzz project photo. One TV is 85 inches, the other two are 45 inches, and all are outfitted with a high-tech audio-visual system to watch multiple games at once.

“We watch March Madness and lots of other sports — so it made sense to do that type of setup,” he said of the 730-square-foot remodeled area. Smart built-in cabinets and pullout drawers beneath the TVs create more storage space.


Maroon and gold: “The Minnesota Gopher theme — the details, finishes and design — was a big component of the project,” said Peterson. Mark Churchill is a University of Minnesota alum, and the couple are longtime Gopher fans.

“The sports theme was important,” agreed Mark. “But we didn’t want it to be cheesy, like with a football field on the floor.”

They explored ways to introduce U of M colors and elements in a unique way, and turn it into their “dream entertaining space,” said Mark.

A custom-made “stadium” table with seating behind the sectional also doubles as a game table. Each bar stool has a big “M” logo laser-etched on the backrest, to replicate seating inside a suite at TCF Bank Stadium.

To conceal an electrical box, a cabinet maker covered it with distressed barnwood, also etched with the U of M logo.

Decor details include maroon and gold patterned pillows on the sectional and a painting of the old Mariucci Arena on the wall. “The wood stain on the TV wall has a hint of maroon in it,” said Mark. The granite in the nearby wine cellar also has flecks of maroon and gold.


Euro-style wine cellar: The couple collect wine on their travels from Napa Valley to France and Italy. “We wanted a place to store it and have it accessible,” said Mark.

The temperature-controlled cellar holds close to 900 bottles. Guests can peruse the collection, pick a bottle and uncork it on a granite counter. Wine glasses are stored in a cabinet above.

The stone wall and cork floor add Old World flavor, and are “a little bit reminiscent of the Burgundy wine region in France,” said Mark.


Doesn’t feel like a basement: It’s warm and cozy, especially in the winter, thanks to radiant in-floor heat. To draw in more light, Peterson replaced tiny frosted-glass windows with a double egress window, and added canned ceiling lights.

The space is intimate for the family of four — and also can accommodate a big group. “There’s enough room for several families to come over for Gopher football parties,” said Robyn. Mark hopes it will become a hangout for their kids when they get older, too.


The result: The revamped lower level is “a special place with a meaningful connection to the U that they can use every day and to entertain,” said Peterson.


Getting away from it all: With two small children, their toys and hectic life on the main floor, the basement also has become a quiet, calm retreat for the couple.

“It’s like a cabin in our basement,” said Robyn.

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