Residential basements become a feature


This article is part of our last Special design report, which is to expand the possibilities of your home.

the Latest TikTok Home Related Video Goes Viral begins with the voice of a woman patiently explaining that during the pandemic, her husband turned their basement into… a video rental store. As she speaks, the camera pans over shelves filled with DVDs, a drinks fridge, and a viewing room with two recliners and a large screen.

The enthusiasm for this content was so vast – the praise in the effusive comments section, the questions many – that multiple follow-up videos were made in which Brian Hogan, the aforementioned husband, described how and why he undertook this. DIY project in his Des Moines comes home instead of doing what his wife, Erin, would have preferred: remaking the kitchen cabinets. Mr Hogan’s tribute to the neighborhood movie rental shops of yesteryear even landed the couple an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

And these days, theirs isn’t the only buzzing basement out there.

Pat Gagliano, founder of New Jersey finished basements, undertook a renovation for Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino and his wife, Lauren Pesce, that the reality TV couple was documenting in a YouTube show called “Situations under construction”. In the basement of the couple’s sprawling home in Holmdel, Mr Gagliano conjures up not only a home theater and spa, but a ‘glamorous room’ where Ms Pesce can style her hair and makeup before a day of filming.

“The projects just keep getting crazier and crazier,” said Gagliano, who is currently working on 113 basement renovations, and estimates he’s done nearly 4,000 in his career.

Dark, damp, and low-ceilinged, the basement is perhaps the room least likely to bask in the spotlight. The space, which often has all the appeal of a meat rack, usually houses less attractive features such as the oven. It also usually serves as a tote bag for trash such as tangled strands of Christmas lights, cribs that kids get too big with, and boxes of devices that people feel they can’t throw away in case they are. will one day need to flip their televisions and mixers.

But the features that make some basements look downright like caverns – few or no windows, and separation from the rest of the house – also make them good candidates for things like home theaters, which require the darkness and quiet, and Pilates studios, which require unbroken walls. mirror. And since the pandemic closed offices and schools, basements have been put into use for remote work and school.

“A basement is often an area behind the scenes,” said Sally Augustin, applied environmental psychologist and co-founder of the website. Space doctors. But as everyone zooms in from home offices and ad hoc classrooms, a space previously hidden from view has now been catapulted into the public sphere.

Houzz, a website that connects homeowners with home improvement professionals, reports that requests for basement renovations rose 29% in June 2020, compared to the same month in 2019, as people sought to create more usable space in their home.

But some entrepreneurs have focused on basements for years.

Ten years ago Steve and Colby Lindsey, father and son owners of LinCo Construction, a general contractor in suburban Denver, created a division called Basement shrine to promote an expertise they had acquired by finishing unfinished spaces in predominantly new homes in their region. It worked. Today, basements represent 60 to 70% of their income, said Steve Lindsey.

The most common request is for a bedroom, bathroom and living room, a combination that costs around $ 60,000, Mr Lindsey said – far less than it would cost to build an addition to earn the same amount. of space.

The business also faced some unusual demands – one owner wanted the basement bathroom to look like an outhouse. “We used a lot of barn wood,” said Steve Lindsey. The bathroom door had a cut moon, he added.

Mr. Gagliano of New Jersey entered basements two decades ago after walking away from a successful business doing commercial renovations. His business was making between $ 10 million and $ 15 million a year, but the work was very demanding. “I had no quality of life,” he says. “I didn’t know my children.”

While he was figuring out what to do next, his wife pointed out that he had always liked the odd job in the basement and suggested that he specialize in this area. Now his wife and three of their four children are involved in the business. It took off with the help of social media.

Mr. Gagliano, 56, has started posting videos of his projects on a YouTube channel to bring his work to the attention of fellow Garden State citizens. Cheerful and engaging, he was a natural in front of the camera.

HGTV called after the “Hot Mess House” show designer started following him on Instagram. The home improvement television channel tapped him to appear in three episodes, which will air this summer.

And a video M. Gagliano posted on TikTok got 5.3 million views – and 30 calls for quotes. The clip showed him revealing the secret doors he had installed in clients’ basements. Another popular clip featured a secret door at the back of a living room’s faux fireplace to reveal a slide that descends to a basement playroom.

Mr. Gagliano now has a daughter who takes care of social media for him, but it was his idea to approach an influencer to barter his services in exchange for publicity. They contacted several celebrities in New Jersey and Mr Sorrentino – who had just come out of jail for tax evasion – responded to him. Mr. Gagliano and his team arranged the space, demolished some walls and completed the framing and wiring, but the project is now on hiatus as the Sorrentins prepare to have a baby.

Work is not just fun and playful. Mr. Gagliano set up temples in the basement for Hindu clients. When he learned that the daughter of a client with autism had to go to a special sensory room every day, half an hour away, he made such a space for her in the basement of their house.

Other entrepreneurs, although not basement specialists, also go to great lengths to meet the deep desires of their clients.

Steve Gray, president of Indianapolis-based Steve Gray Renovations, set up a hot yoga studio in a client’s basement that involved adding extra insulation to the ceiling and walls and installing infrared heaters that can quickly increase the air temperature and extraction units to ventilate the space pole. -training. In his own mid-century home, he completely reconfigured the basement and painted an original brick and limestone fireplace that now separates a home office from a home gym supported by a sign mural. of peace commissioned from an artist named Blice Edwards.

“Anything is possible,” Gray said.

Adams + Beasley Associates, upscale entrepreneurs in Carlisle, Massachusetts, recently transformed the unfinished basement of an 1880s house in Cambridge into a light and airy estate that includes a media room, a ‘European-style’ laundry room, a full bath, butler pantry and wet bar.

The project, which won a Chrysalis remodeling price and cost well over a million dollars, it took digging two feet below the basement to lower the floor and give the final space greater height. The windows were made larger and the partitions between the spaces were made of steel framed glass to allow light to circulate. Radiant underfloor heating and a Danish wood-burning stove take the chill out.

Another Adams + Beasley project, in the town of Wellesley, Massachusetts, was less expensive, at around $ 200,000. Christine Todd, the owner, said she gave her children, aged 17 to 26, a space of their own that was a godsend during the pandemic.

Previously, the basement was constantly damp, with a sloping cement floor and many rooms with doors, “like a prison,” Ms Todd said. “No one wanted to spend important time there.”

The contractors removed the walls, leveled the ground and installed a dehumidification system to solve the humidity problem. Now, a living room with a sectional sofa flows into a space centered on a modernist ping-pong table designed by Antoni Pallejà Office, a Barcelona-based company. For the youngest girl, who plays field hockey, there is a “shooting hall” where she can train indoors; it also doubles as a bunk bed room when its older brother’s friends need a place to sleep after a party.

Completed just before the pandemic, the basement has provided Ms Todd’s children with a place to spend time with friends over the past year, helping them maintain a minimum of social life. “All three of them say it changed their way of life,” she said.

Mr. Hogan’s video bunker has also changed his life, if not equally rarefied. He accomplished his project by scavenging inexpensive shelves from local video stores that closed their doors (no more than $ 20 per section), buying a door from the Facebook Marketplace ($ 5) and a window from Habitat for humanity ($ 20).

A barber by trade and a longtime movie buff, he undertook the project as a way to organize his film collection., the number of which is in the thousands. It also gave him something to do when work evaporated during the pandemic. Today, DVDs and VHS tapes are listed alphabetically, within categories, as they would be in a real video store. The set includes promotional movie posters and a large ET figure.

The project may not win any design awards, but even Adams + Beasley co-founder Eric Adams was moved by the nostalgic appeal of the video bunker when he caught Mr. Hogan’s segment on “Jimmy Kimmel. Live! “

“It got me thinking about when going out and getting a movie was intentional,” Adams said, comparing it to today when watching movies is always a click away on Netflix. “There was something romantic about watching that.”

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