The Second Chance: From the Raw Basement to the Family Room


Valuable Real Estate

A dry basement is the holy grail for anyone looking to increase their square footage. You can create a new room for as little as $2,000, sometimes with two or three rooms.

Karen Berkemeyer, a kitchen designer, used the space below grade as a laundry area for years. Her home was lacking an informal space that could be used for lounging or TV watching, so she decided to take another look. Berkemeyer says, “We have never had one place where we could all gather to watch a movie.” The basement was converted into a movie theater. During the renovations, storage and laundry rooms were upgraded and a full bathroom was added. This allowed the space to double its potential as a guest room.

Let the Light In

Although only one was needed to meet code, there were two egress windows added to the family room. Their tops are higher than the grade. The view is enhanced by custom fieldstone window wells that have drains at the bottom. Multiple recessed fixtures provide additional lighting.

Neutral Nooks

To prevent dampness, the entire bathroom is covered in limestone. The Miele washer/dryer are located in the laundry under a Corian counter.

Laundry sink

When viewed from the main living space, the limestone backsplash behind the Kohler faucet and laundry sink creates a focal point.

Guest Bath

A vanity with antique-dresser style is found in the bathroom, which features honed granite countertops.


The basement that housed the washer/dryer had an old concrete floor and exposed plumbing. It also had stone foundation walls. To meet code, the main challenge was to excavate below the concrete slab.

Water Heater

The original concrete floor that was used for the water heater in the mechanicals cupboard is still intact. It is 8 inches higher than what has been renovated.

Original Layout

A wall was built to separate the basement from crawl space underneath a porch. It provided 70 square feet of additional room.

What They Did

1. To remove a wall and create an under-porch crawl space, we removed it. It was then made part of the new family area. In its place, a steel beam supports it.

2. Excavated the floor, except the area for the mechanicals, to create a ceiling height of 7 feet.

3. Conserved the original locations of the boiler and water heater, but put them behind doors.

4. A storage closet was created to store extra household goods such as wine cases and bulk-sized paper towels.

5. You will need to squeeze in a full bathroom measuring 5 by 5 feet.

6. The laundry was moved to the far end of space. We tucked the dryer and washer under a counter.

7. Wood-Mode cherry cabinets are used to store the TV, stereo and CDs.