Introducing the Den: Inspiration & Planning

    January 5, 2018

    Our home is a split entry, so our main living space is actually on the second level. The lower level isn’t quite a basement. We’ve struggled with what to call the large living space down there… “the cave”, “the family room” and simply “the lower level” have all been in play. While I do typically call it the basement by instinct, Martin has coined a different title for it — “the den.”

    So, welcome to the den. It’s our renovation project of the moment and our biggest one yet. This is the first time we’ve taken our room makeovers further than paint and decor. This room project involves replacing flooring, ceiling ceiling tiles, trim, and painting a brick wall.

    Yikes, these are some rough before pictures.

    This room is truly multi-purpose for us. Sure, it serves as a second living space, but it’s also where we exercise, where Martin plays video games, and a pass-through to the laundry room where often clothes are sorted and overflow pantry items are stored.

    What we’re hoping to create is a living space we’ll be really excited to use, rather than the catch-all room it initially became. This room is often warmer than upstairs in the winter and cooler in the summer, so it’s really an ideal place to spend our evenings.

    We’ve been really inspired by warm, mid-century spaces. Think white bricks, wood tones and furnishings with clean lines.

    While part of me feels guilty painting over our brick wall, the other part of me is like PEACE OUT. When we lived in Baltimore City, we loved the charming brick walls within row homes. They are historic and cozy, but the brick wall in our basement isn’t that. It’s unoriginal to the house, added in the late ’80s from what the neighbors have been able to tell us. Painting the wall white will hopefully level up the brick from dated to design feature.

    With the brick walls going white, we’ll also be tearing out the heavy, wooden “built-ins” on either side of the fireplace. They were made with low quality wood and visually just aren’t what we’re going for.

    It’s hard to tell in the photos, but the ceiling is actually a tongue and groove acoustic tile. My first instinct was to drywall it, but Martin couldn’t seem to get these Scandinavian-inspired wooden ceilings off his mind.

    We’ll be doing a DIY wood ceiling and adding in both recessed lighting and a pendant. We already scored a Louis Poulsen PH5 pendant light from a local vintage shop for under $300!

    So while our lower level may never look like the grand room pictured above, bringing in more white and light should really help it to feel like a cleaner, happier space.

    A rather messy Photoshop moldboard should show you what we’re going for.

    The walls were painted with Behr “Silent White” in eggshell. It’s a very neutral grey-white. We painted the bricks a stark Behr “Ultra Pure White” to allow for some contrast. This will also go on the trim.

    The furnishings are still up in the air, but we’ll be keeping two staples of the room. One is the blue tufted couch that Martin actually reupholstered himself (!!). The other is a mid-century wall unit handed down from my mom. We coincidentally have a very similar unit in our dining room. This one is a little more well-loved, but we’ll be keeping it for now.

    We’ll be shuffling some art from the living room down, including these Tracie Ching prints that we just added a third to.

    We chose a luxury vinyl plank for the flooring. We wanted a wood look, but weren’t able to choose actual wood because, while not quite a basement, the den is still below-grade. We went with COREtec Plus XL Enhanced in “Whitney Oak”, a warm, grey-toned wood finish. We’re installing it ourselves this weekend. Wish us luck!

    Now for a sneak peak! These nail-filled old trim pieces may look terrifying, but to us they also look like progress! And oh yes, the walls have been painted. We got a little excited on Christmas Eve and chose not to wait until after the holiday. Paint brought us one step closer to finishing. We hope to wrap up this project by next month.







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