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Chances are, if you are moving into a basement apartment in an older building, it will look like this one. Emma's place had wall paneling that cast a gloomy, yellowing light over the entire space. There were support beams stuck in the middle that can't be eliminated as they hold up the house. Ugly carpet and vinyl covered the floors, and the kitchenette was serviceable but dated. Not much to welcome the free spirit of a young woman.
It's hard to believe that this fresh, cheerful abode is a basement apartment. It has been transformed with color and a few clever design tricks. A partition was built to separate the living and sleeping areas, with bookshelves for much needed storage on the living room side. A grid of thin strips of wood was added to the flat side, which acts as an oversized headboard for the bed with lights installed for reading. This was all painted in Emma's favorite color--raspberry.
The Retro orange counter in the tiny kitchen is back in fashion again, but we updated the cabinets with paint that gives the appearance of hammered metal for the uppers, and a deeper burnt orange below the counter. A hanging storage unit divides the kitchen from the living area, and we built another ingenious storage system using a sheet of aluminum and a series of stainless steel cups, containers and tins to hold everything from fresh spices to small cooking utensils.
Reflection and sheen will always produce the illusion of space, so we put this rule to work in many forms. The paneled walls were painted flat white and then striped with high gloss varnish. Light plays off the alternating sheens creating a shadow stripe effect that adds height and space to the room.
There is also a wall of framed mirror in the living area and the kitchen backsplash is mirrored tile decorated with vibrant orange grout.
Low level furnishings keep the room in comfortable scale, and full-length curtains are hung over the small basement windows.
The white walls and white cork floor let the room breathe, while the raspberry partition and orange and steel gray kitchen are young and hip, and the perfect antidote for this fabulous Facelift.
Click on the small photographs on the right to view each of the different angles of the room.
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Cabinets & Backsplash
The upper cabinets are painted with Hammerite, which is actually a super product meant to cover metal. It is available in different finishes, and here we used Silver Gray in a hammered finish. The original backsplash tiles were replaced with mirrored squares and we mixed our own bright orange grout using red and yellow colorant.
Full-length curtains are a great trick for dressing up small basement windows.
The surface of this old dresser has been given the look and feel of old leather. Remove the drawers and work on each section of the dresser surface separately. First apply a thin coat of Venetian plaster with a spatula. Open up long strips of cheesecloth and lay them flat over the wet plaster. Press another thin coat of plaster over the cheesecloth. When the plaster is nearly dry, remove the cheesecloth leaving its imprint behind. Once the plaster has dried completely, lightly sand. Brush a deep tan colored glaze over the plaster, rubbing it in to highlight the pattern. Seal with beeswax to replicate the sheen and touch of real leather.
Cork has long been a favorite choice for cold floors in basements and bathrooms as it is a natural insulator and is warm and soft underfoot. The African Ivory Uniclic cork floor was laid throughout Emma's apartment. A soft and shaggy suede carpet complements the hip young style.
Here's an update on the 70's mirrored wall--it's a beautiful way to enlarge the room visually. We had mirror cut into rectangles and glued them onto a sheet of Masonite leaving two-inch gaps around each piece. Strips of 1" x 4" oak were cut and nailed into place to frame the mirrored sections. Use low-tack tape to protect the mirror while painting the frames.
A makeup shelf runs along one length of the bedroom wall. To make it special we gave it a faux marble finish. Mix a few colored glazes for the shading and veins you would find in real marble. Over a white base coat, apply the glaze with a dry brush in jagged diagonal lines that run in the same direction. Soften with a clean dry cloth. Use a small artist's brush or a feather and a small amount of black paint to create the veins. When the paint is dry, to bring out the depth and shine seen in real marble, apply a glaze coat of the softest pink with a semi-gloss or high-gloss sheen.
A bright combination of shades of white on the walls and delicious raspberry bookshelves envelop Emma's apartment in cheerful warmth. The original paneling was first primed, then painted flat white. High gloss varnish was applied to alternate planks. Light is reflected off the glossy sheen to produce the impression of different shades of white for this shadow stripe effect.