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Basement Playroom Remodel in Cleveland Park, Washington, DC

Families with young children need playrooms, and often the under-utilized basement is the best place to expand a home’s living space. This was the case for a young professional couple in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of DC, in a 1920s semi-detached brick townhouse. The Wentworth team was pleased to have them as a repeat client (we had previously remodeled their kitchen in 2012).

Basement Playroom

A previous homeowner had fitted out the basement as an in-law suite for rental income. A small kitchen at the back of the basement, bath, and central room created what was an efficiency apartment. The homeowners did not want to rent the basement but chose to remodel it to use as their living space. Shortly after the arrival of their first born, they contacted Wentworth to start planning a basement remodel to accommodate a playroom/guest room/storage.

Before the Remodel

The underutilized basement was partially finished but in disrepair. Although the space had three windows on the east facing wall, two were concealed by a large closet created to conceal an abandoned oil tank for hot water radiator heat (since converted to natural gas). The homeowner hired professionals to properly remove the tank before we arrived for our remodeling work.

A basement full bath was fitted out with a stack washer/dryer that was no longer needed. Typical of older homes, the basement had a low ceiling (about 7 feet), made worse by poorly planned ductwork for cooling. Wentworth worked closely with its mechanical sub-contractor to reroute ductwork and minimize the depth of new ductwork to maximize headroom in the playroom.

Basement Remodeling Project Details

Our client had three goals for their basement space to be remodeled (approximately 20 x 19 feet). They wanted:

  1. A play room for their young child (less than 2 years old). The intent was to plan long-term so that the playroom could evolve as the children grew into teenagers and young adults—which influenced the décor.
  2. A design that could double as a guest room with a sofa bed for visiting family.
  3. Maximized storage where possible in playroom and adjacent rear kitchen.

New Playroom

The Wentworth design team developed three different design solutions to meet these goals. Each included custom built-in units to maximize storage and aesthetics for the new playroom space. The homeowners chose a preferred design solution. The new space (19 x 20 feet) has the advantage of three east facing windows, two of which are located in a square bay with two small windows (the foundation of the dining room above).

New Custom Built-In Units

Within the bay, we designed a custom storage and bookcase unit. The square bay built-in unit is a mix of closed and open storage; the lower level drawers provide storage for board games and toys with a continuous counter, while the upper area is open shelving for the family’s extensive book collection. The design of the built-in frames the new windows and fills the bay as a focal point that is both functional and aesthetic. Pops of color, inspired by mid-century modern design, add visual interest at the back of the bookcase cubbies.

Basement Playroom Remodel

A second built-in, partially under the staircase, forms an “L” shape that defines the entry to the space. This cozy corner has a custom cushion and bolster (in coordinating fabrics) that serves as a place for adults or children to curl up with a book or take a nap. Storage is accommodated under the daybed and in the adjacent cubbies bookcase. The backs of selected cubbies are enhanced with mid-century modern colors. The built-in unit’s “L” configuration gives the space closure and makes it intimate, and functionally, it conceals a poorly placed structural column that was too expensive to relocate. Much of this area is taken up with stuffed toy animals and pillows for comfort.

With regard to the custom built-in units with punches of mid-century colors, we knew the design needed to accommodate a sloping and irregular basement floor slab. To minimize the difficulties of a floor slab that sloped as much as 2 inches in some areas, the built-in units were designed to appear to float. This was achieved with a 4-foot-high recessed toe kick. It’s almost not possible to see the toe kick and because the cabinets look as though they are floating, it’s difficult to notice the floor slab irregularities.

Old Bath Upgrades

Basement Remodeling Washington, DC

The existing full bathroom needed small changes. The old niche that had been built to accommodate a stack washer dyer was removed, which reduced the footprint of the bathroom and provided more space in the playroom as well as the bath. And with the washer/dryer out of the way, the entrance to the bathroom was relocated to open on to the beautiful, new pedestal sink. New floor tile was installed, and new lighting and paint give the bathroom a fresh, inviting look.

Lighting & Ceiling Design

To maximize the visual sense of height in the playroom and support the newly altered ductwork, the design team designated a middle portion of the room to have a dropped bulkhead, which accommodates a structural beam, new ductwork and recessed lighting. The bulkhead is embellished with a simple light cove detail fitted with rope lighting. Where possible, the highest ceiling areas were maintained to create the illusion of a greater space.

Other Features

The new basement also features a chalkboard in the playroom with magnetic paint, as well as wall-to-wall carpeting for comfort, warmth, and safety. There is something for the adults too—custom wine storage!

A Successful Basement Remodel

And as proper planning is intended to do, the couple is expecting their second child who will have a readymade playroom to share with an older brother. View more pictures of this Cleveland Park basement playroom in our gallery.

Do you have a basement you want to make more kid-friendly to fit your growing family? Need more room in your home without building an addition? View past basement remodels the Wentworth team has completed in the Washington, DC metropolitan area—and contact us today!

“ Thank you so much for the very thoughtful gift and card you sent to welcome [our son] home. He has been following the baseball standings with great interest, and is looking forward to many messy meals with his Red Sox bib and bottle. And whether he realizes it or not, his meal times have been made much more pleasant - and his parents are much happier - because of the fabulous new kitchen you designed and built for us. It was really kind of you to think of us at this special time in our lives. ”

Amelia & Mike M.
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