Instead of building up or out, interior designer Tricia Foley looked down. She saw beyond the old pine boards piled to the rafters, the exposed plumbing, and the concrete walls in the basement and envisioned a great room.
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The renovated basement has areas for entertaining, work, flower arranging, and laundry. The great room is centered on a 12-seat picnic table, found at a tag sale and freshened up with paint. The redwood benches were on the property when she bought it. Foley swapped out their red vinyl upholstery for waxed linen.
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Before the Renovation
"I love the charming scale of the rooms in my home, but it was important to me to have one generous space," says Foley, who credits the inspiration for the cellar transformation to her English grandmother, whose chintz-festooned basement was the designer's favorite place to play.
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"I didn't want to be in a dungeon," Tricia Foley says of her basement, which she turned into an inviting space.
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Storage to Suit
A sense of order prevails in the project room, with its mix of open and closed storage. Peg rails are among the designer's favorite organizers; she rimmed the room with them for frequently used items -- a watering can, a dustpan, and reusable bags. A glass-front cabinet is called into service as a toolshed. Labeled flat-bottomed totes, made in Sweden from lightweight, washable plastic, snap together for support and make it easy to keep paper, glass, and metal properly sorted.
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Hide This, Show That
In the laundry room, the washer and dryer are concealed behind painted doors built from recycled pine boards. Foley's collection of vases and vessels line a deep shelf that rings the room. On the easy-to-clean laminate countertop, a stone basket corrals sea sponges and laundry scents.
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There's no wrestling with fragile vases when a double sink is 12 inches deep on one side and paired with a gooseneck faucet. The pullout hose with a spray attachment allows Foley to swiftly fill vases and rinse buckets. Open shelves let her see all vase options when she's arranging flowers.
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From Living Room to Movie Theater
Much of the furniture in the room can be shifted around to suit the occasion. On movie nights, the picnic table turns into a media center, supporting a projector that beams pictures onto the opposite wall (Foley intentionally left this wall blank to accommodate screenings). The wicker sofa is moved into the center of the room and a picnic bench serves as a coffee table.
Inexpensive track lighting, wired to a dimmer, lets Foley control the intensity and direction of the light. Because the designer added beams to the ceiling to reinforce the floor above, there was no room for recessed lights between them, making the classic, clean-lined fixtures an optimal choice.