A Philly Basement Designed for Fun

A long-awaited transformation from storage room to bonus room

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Project: Refinish a basement in Ardmore, Philadelphia

Before: When David and Wendy bought their 2,700-square-foot home in a Philadelphia suburb, one thing was for sure: the smelly, dated basement had to go. David completely demoed it with every intention of refinishing it after they moved in. Two years later and the basement had become a storage room instead of the recreational space for “serious TV watching,” an exercise area, and a bar that he’d hoped to create. “I never got around to it, though, and finally hired someone through Sweeten,” David said.

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After: Ready to take on the unfinished basement once and for all, David posted the project on Sweeten and chose this Sweeten general contractor. Since he’d already completed the demolition, they hit the ground running and kept his main goal of having a “dedicated space for TV-watching where [he] didn’t have to worry about large speakers ruining the decor.”

First, they had to determine how to best lay out the basement to meet his multi-purpose needs. A cousin who owns the interior design firm LK Design helped David figure out where to position the bar, fitness equipment, and the entertainment seating. Coming down the stairs from the main floor, the exercise area was set up directly to the right and away from the main living space. The bar and mini kitchen open conveniently to the seating area for easy access. Low ductwork presented a great spot to place the cabinetry and sink, and to maximize headspace as much as possible, they placed the bar directly under an exposed steel beam.

As for finishing touches, they outfitted the theater with plush carpeting for optimal comfort. For the remainder of the flooring, David decided on more durable (plus pet- and kid-friendly!) vinyl plank. The kitchen and bar got a luxe touch with granite countertops, gray cabinets, and chrome hardware.

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Overall the biggest challenge (aside from determining the layout) was getting the bar sink installed below the sewer line. Fortunately, a plumber found a solution and installed a pump. Their Sweeten general contractor also provided invaluable assistance getting a full-size refrigerator down the narrow staircase, not to mention handling a few issues with vendors and navigating delays. “We had gas lines in the way of the ceiling, and he had a plumber who was able to reroute the lines in a very cost-effective way. Previous plumbers I had found only suggested much more expensive solutions,” David said.

Thinking ahead, they also prepared for possible wiring needs down the line and “future-proofed” throughout the basement.

So how does the family feel about their new hangout space? “Comfortable and relaxed,” David said.

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Bonus: David and the contractor installed built-in cabinets in the corners of the entertaining area to hide the gas meters.

Style finds: Carpeting: Mohawk. Lifeproof vinyl plank flooring: Home Depot. Cabinets, cabinet fronts, faucet: Ikea.

Cristiana and her husband took advantage of valuable square footage and turned their basement into a multi-purpose space complete with a family room, wine storage, and laundry area.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, and scope, helping until project completion. Follow the blog for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.