This space is another in our new house that went through a number of changes within the first 12 months of us living here. It's an interesting space because, while it's our basement, the french doors open up to our driveway, so it tends to be where people enter the house. It's also attached to our garage, which is also a high traffic area.
When we first moved in, our intention for this space was that it would serve as Larry's music studio. Larry is a piano teacher, and eventually, he hoped to start having students come to the house again.
Before Covid, Larry would both travel to students homes and teach students in our home in the Heritage Hill neighborhood.
When the shut down happened in March 2020, he transitioned most of his students to virtual lessons (which he still offers, and, according to Larry, are just as effective and sometimes better than in-person lessons!). After the move, me maintained a good portion of his GR students virtually, and intended to eventually build up in-person students out here.
What we liked about the basement walkout space is that it's fairly separate from the rest of the house and would allow students and their families not to have to walk up any stairs. We also had two large dogs at the time, and since the basement has a door at the top of the stairs, we imaged that working well for corralling the doggos.
But, if you've been around these parts for a bit, you probably know that our dog situation got a little intense, and it ended up happening that our dogs weren't able to be in the same space together.
Because of this, we ended up using the basement mainly as Gabo's (our rottie) play area and hang out area. He was an incredibly messy dog (he loooooved to chew), so we took basically everything out of that space and used it solely for training and play. It worked really well for that purpose for a time!
At that point, it was difficult to even have friends and family come for a visit, so we didn't see an option to have students come to the house for lessons.
When we eventually made the very difficult decision to re-home Gabo with the help of our very fantastic dog trainers (we are all living our best lives now!), we suddenly had the opportunity to rethink how we wanted to use this space.
By this point, we had moved Larry's childhood piano up to his office, so all that remained in the basement was my childhood piano, a bookcase with glass doors (which we'd purchased on marketplace so Gabo couldn't destroy the books), and a smaller music cabinet.
The basement was pretty much empty and we hardly found ourselves using this space at all.
Here's a quick view of how the previous owners had it set up when we looked at the house:
// LOWER LEVEL BEFORE //
Larry had the idea of turning the space into a really cozy comfy movie room—we LOVE to watch movies and TV shows, so we knew this would get a lot of use, even with a TV upstairs.
When we first moved, he had his eye on an OLED flat screen TV, but I'd been dreaming about The Frame TV for so long, so I eventually won that compromise. With the idea of the cozy movie room in place, Larry finally got his dream TV.
And friends, if I'm honest, Larry's TV is way better as a TV...but mine is aesthetically way cuter, plus I'm not as picky about screen quality and such :)
I will say, I was pretty impressed at how flush to the wall and skinny the OLED TV is. While it doesn't have the cute frame, and the art mode isn't as nice as The Frame, I still consider it a very beautiful piece of technology.
We also splurged and got a really nice Sonos sound bar, amp, and speakers for this space. We have the plug-in speakers all throughout the house, so it's really fun to be able to have music (or a podcast) that can play throughout the house.
Next up was to find a giant sectional. My goal was to decorate this room on a tiny budget, so I knew fb marketplace was going to be my biggest friend here.
I spent a couple weeks keeping tabs on all the newly listed sectionals, and I eventually came across this beautiful, faded green leather Bernhardt sectional. This sofa new would probably be upwards of 12K, and I got it for a steal of $600!!
The sectional had a funky 70s vibe to me, so I took that vibe and ran with it. I ended up finding this gorgeous MCM credenza (above) to use beneath the TV; it's technically a bedroom dresser, but I have no qualms about using furniture in rooms different than they were intended for.
I also moved the tall bookshelf just to the right of the entry (two below), and currently this houses Larry's CD and record collection along with a couple plant babies.
For a while, I had a couple of benches sitting in front of the sofa to act as a makeshift coffee table, followed by a drum table that we had to return for a client because it was SUPER tippy (the first week I had it in my house, my niece tipped it over along with the plant that was sitting on top 😭).
Once we had a better idea of what we wanted, I connected with woodworker and jack-of-many-trades, Luke Leffel, to commission an oversized coffee table for the space. I wanted something BIG, simple, and sturdy to balance out the huge size of the sectional. He knocked it out of the park!!
To finish off the sitting area, we ordered this funky shag wool rug (linked here - but let me know if you need a different size) to add a little playfulness and coziness to the overall space. This rug is a stretch for me style wise, but this was one room where I wanted to be a little wacky.
So, the french doors in the basement walkout tend to be where most people enter our house. There's no great closed storage option here, so we created a little "mudroom" area using the back of the sectional to define the space.
I popped a bench behind the couch for guests to sit and take their shoes off/on, and we added and open clothing rack for coat and shoe storage. I've actually been pleasantly surprised at how having this space set apart and nicely defined has helped to avoid tracking mud or snow into the sitting area.
Artwork wise, the tall piece beside the coat rack was a wedding gift by my friend—and amazing artist—Sammy, and is inspired by Pablo Neruda's Sonnet XVII, which she read at our wedding. The colorful abstract piece over the sofa is by the lovely GR artist Chelsea Michal, and the black and white piece is by me.
The two pieces over the sofa in the above photo are really much too small for the massive size of the sofa, so I just recently moved a larger painting—previously in our living room—to this space.
The scale of the new pieces works so much better with the size of the coffee table and sofa, and I like the toned down color palette as well.
Both my mom and a friend pointed out that the new pieces coordinate with the pillows very nicely, which I did not plan, but who knows, maybe I subconsciously used the pillows as inspiration for the paintings...ha!
Something quirky about this space is...you may have guessed it...the ceilings! I'm not sure that this space was really intended to be finished, so there are some pretty funky ceiling lines going on in here...noooot my favorite, but I'll take it over an unfinished basement any day!
We also haven't gotten around to swapping out the light fixtures, but I'm thinking something along the lines of these flush mount drum shades from CB2.
Now that we've reworked this space to match how we live, we spend a LOT of time down here and really love how it's come together.
For a lower level, it gets a ton of light since it faces west, and now that it's complete, it feels like a great spot to welcome people into our house, even though it's not a traditional entryway!
Work with Lauren Figueroa Interior Design
LFID is a full-service interior design firm serving West and Southeast Michigan known especially for our Designed in a Day service.
We work with clients from Detroit to Novi to Clarkston, and Grand Rapids to Holland to Traverse City—and anywhere in between! We pride ourselves on creating bespoke, people-centered spaces—because after all, people are what this life is all about