Lea Johnson’s Basement Reveal: Workspace by Day and Family-Friendly Living Room by Night
Hi guys, it’s Lea again! I am thrilled to be back and grateful for Emily and her team for giving me this space to share my brand new basement reveal!
When you think of basements, what is the first thing that pops into your mind? You might have a vision of a dark, cold, maybe even a little smelly space (you know that basement smell) and anything but cozy, bright, and inspiring, amirite? Well, when the pandemic hit and we, like so many, were forced to work from home or study from home, I quickly realized I needed to carve out a workspace somewhere. Lo and behold, my basement became the place to do just that.
Sofa | Rug | Chair | Table (similar) | Light Fixture | Tree
I’ll admit, our basement wasn’t disastrous beforehand when I first attempted to cozy up the space. Prior to this, it was just an empty space full of boxes and totes – kind of a makeshift storage space. It wasn’t bad, but with two of us working from home and one studying for college from home, we desperately needed a more functional (and beautiful) space to both work and relax.
The first thing that instantly transformed the space was changing the paint color. While I love gray, I wanted something that felt more fresh and to me, and nothing is more fresh than a crisp shade of white. I went with PPG Timeless white paint straight off the shelf and loved the way it immediately brightened up the space.
Next, we needed to transform one side of the basement into a functional workspace without making it a full-blown office. I want this basement to pull double duty for game night/fight night (did I mention we’re huge UFC fans over here?) and a place to enjoy snacks and (eventually) entertain. Luckily for us, and unusual to most basements, this one gets tons of natural light as it’s east facing. It’s the opposite of dark and dingy so it was the perfect canvas for what I wanted to achieve.
Though we have great light in there, I love sourcing light fixtures that are beautiful and functional. So my favorite brother-in-law came over to help me install a gorgeous Japanese paper lantern that I sourced from Bunkado. While I grew up in a heavily Scandinavian family (Yes, I’m adopted) I have always loved Korean and Japanese interiors and so the paper lantern here seemed like the obvious choice with its minimalistic aesthetic and shape. I also added a ceiling medallion as it keeps the space from feeling too builder-grade. I feel like it helps elevate a light fixture even more.
Paint | Table | Rug | Chairs | Pendant (similar)
To make our workspace functional for all of us, I put in this table that is large enough to comfortably sit 2-3 people. Now that I had a surface space adequate for working from home, that doubles as a conference table for Zoom meetings, triples as a break room table, quadruples as a game night table, and quintuples as a place for our projector to sit when we watch events on the “big screen”, I was all set. The shelves hold most of my books and the Google speakers but the amount of books allows everything to blend nicely into the background. Don’t love the idea of a speaker being a main feauture. And finally, the new ceiling light gives a nice soft, overhead glow perfect for working and studying from home.
Install extra wall rails and brackets to prevent future bowing of shelves. As you’ll see later, my shelves are beginning to bow from the weight of all of my books.
I don’t know about you, but even though we won’t be hosting Christmas this year or having any Christmas parties, I still wanted to sprinkle some cheer around this space. Since we don’t have any little kids anymore, I tend to decorate more for the season than the Holiday and if you know Minnesota, well, we’ve been known to have blizzards in May. Yeah, let that sink in **rolls eyes**.
To bring in the winter/holiday feel, a natural Fraser Fir tree is always my go-to and they smell SO good! I’m all about recycling and being resourceful so the bead garland I made using wood beads I found at the thrift store for under $3. I also made the salt dough star ornaments and the paper Scandinavian stars (I learned how to fold these from my years as a Girl Scout). The ceramic bells I had on hand from Target but I thought they were fitting for the tree. The citron velvet striped ornaments are the same ones I invested in last year as well as the star tree topper. This year instead of using a tree collar or skirt, I opted to just wrap the base of the tree in an old rug I had.
Now on to the bright and cozy side of the room…
THE COZY HANG OUT SPOT
Sofa| Coffee Table (similar) | Rug | Ceiling Light Fixture | Gallery Wall Frames | Sconce
I really wanted this section to feel cozy and a place where my husband and his friends could hang in while not making it a bachelor pad or “man cave” (or smelling like one). During this pandemic, I’ve been craving color and I’ve always had a love affair with citron velvet. I also knew I wanted a more modern and low profile sectional so to tie the two together we went with this sectional by Jonathan Louis. It brought so much life into this room! I feel like it’s presence gives the space so much soul. This sofa comes in so many configurations and fabric options and I debated every color spectrum but ultimately did a fur test with Remi (our dog) and was pleased that this color held up (I hear velvet is very pet friendly and easy to clean). Cheers to another stylish yet functional decision.
Did I mention our projector and our appreciation for UFC? We don’t have a projector screen in the traditional sense so when we do pull out our projector we project it right onto this wall, where it’s easy enough to remove my DIY art when the event occurs. Additionally, we watch TV down here more on the regular so the TV takes up the adjacent wall.
Speaking of the DIY art, it cost me under $20 to make using a thrifted canvas I had found for $2.99. I applied joint compound all over it and then created a makeshift frame using trim pieces that I nailed right into the canvas frame. It was so easy peasy and I think it looks pretty good here in my 100% biased opinion.
In order to keep it extra cozy down here, I wanted a really soft rug because basement floors tend to be cold (especially in Minnesota) so I went with this super plush rug and I love the abstract design it adds. I feel like I’m walking on a cloud and I want to squish my toes into it all the time.
I had found the vintage sketches a year ago out thrifting but never could find the right use for them. Once I found these inexpensive minimalistic frames at Target and displayed them here it felt like the perfect fit. Finally! Who else hoards found items in the hopes of finding them a proper display space one day?
TV | Circle Candle Holder | Leaning Square Frame | Match Holder | Candle Holder
On this side of the room we have our Frame TV and while we don’t typically like a TV to be the focal point of the room, well…there’s only so much you can do. To add some additional layers to this wall, I propped up some frames and used leftover wallpaper samples and wrapping paper as my “art”.
I also have this amazing cozy reading chair which needed a light source so I found the perfect wall sconce…
Accent Chair | Sheepskin | Cabinet | Cabinet Doors | Sconce
The wall sconce is “hardwire only” and we didn’t have an electrical outlet installed. To remedy this, I used inexpensive battery operated puck lights that function off of a remote control and using a Command strip I stuck the light where a lightbulb would have gone.
The media cabinet (which is two cabinets pushed together) sits on the floor and because the rug pile is so high at first we couldn’t open the cabinet door. To affordably fix this, we slid two 2×4’s underneath the cabinet like a pair of skis to elevate it just enough to be able to open the doors, allowing the cabinet to overhang a couple of inches so that the 2×4’s aren’t noticeable.
As this room was evolving I knew I wanted a really cool light fixture that would speak nicely with the abstract, modern rug. I’ll admit it’s not for everyone because as you can see one of the arms hangs down fairly low. Determined to make it work, I positioned it so the low arm would be positioned over the sectional where ideally someone would be sitting and not standing. Even with standing up, no accidents or head bumps yet. We have 8’ ceilings down here so if I had 9’ or higher the arm wouldn’t even be a second thought. It’s gorgeous and sculptural and that’s all that matters. I’m very passionate about this light fixture.
Now, we didn’t have a gathering but we did some holiday food styling for fun. My photographer (who also wore a mask) and I sure enjoyed some sustenance and snacking while working and we pretended we were having a party with my Christmas playlist playing in the background (think Sia and Sam Smith mixed with Wham (of course) and Mariah Carey). I mean…SO fun.
It was a long time coming (or at least in pandemic time it seemed long) for this basement to finally come together but come together it did, and just in time to hunker down for another long winter!
*Design by Lea Johnson of Creekwood Hill
**Photos by Sage E Imagery
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