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Before and After: A Man Cave Goes Chic and Family Friendly

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Becky Harris, Houzz Contributor

This formerly dark basement had been sort of a man cave, heavy on the cave. While the husband still wanted it to serve as his lair, he also wanted it to be a family-friendly spot that he could enjoy with his wife, 12-year-old daughter, friends and extended family. "My clients wanted a space that was cool, modern and full of light, where they could hang out, watch movies, play games and entertain," says interior decorator Arlene Lord. The basement also contained their only guest room, which needed to be more inviting for guests and brought up to code for safety. Here's a look at how Lord used light colors, lighting and reflective surfaces to brighten up this walk-out basement.

Basement at a Glance
Who lives here:
A family of 3
Location: Portland, Oregon
Size: About 1,700 square feet

BEFORE: The basement was a place where the family's leftover furniture stagnated. "There were five different textures on the walls, and the space was dark, funky and had an odd layout," Lord says.

AFTER: The largest room in the basement has three windows and a door to a patio outside. Lord made the most of the natural light with light paint colors, and supplemented the daylight with a chandelier, recessed lighting and a mix of table and floor lamps.

Lord designed a custom sectional sofa and comfortable leather wingback chair for movie watching and lounging. She commissioned photographer Steve Eltinge for the large piece over the sofa; it shows a flock of birds flying over nearby Cannon Beach.

Sofa fabric: Kravet; side table, floor lamp: Arteriors

A trip to Pratt & Larson to pick out tile for the fireplace surround was quite fortuitous. "We wanted something fluid and organic here; I was pricing tile that turned out to be way too expensive and ran across this beautiful slab of Calacatta marble," Lord says. The store had decided to stop carrying stone slabs and had slashed the prices; Lord picked up this gorgeous slab for a once-in-a lifetime bargain price.

The husband is a techie and played a large part in designing the wall of media built-ins, along with the audiovisual pro, the cabinetmaker and Lord. Digital components are wired into a vented cabinet under the TV. The four drawers on the left are for bulky toys and games, while the upper drawers store DVDs and CDs.

One piece of leftover furniture that the family has owned for years is this lovely dining room table, which now serves as a game and puzzle table. The daughter has dubbed the custom-designed banquette "The Arlene" after Lord. She likes to sit in it and watch movies while doing other things.

The Asian artwork on the walls and the statue are a nod to the 12-year-old's proficiency in Mandarin, which she's learned through a school immersion program.

Banquette fabric: Loose Leaf, Candace Olsen for Kravet; chandelier: Kravet; ancestral Asian artwork: Antiques and Oddities

BEFORE: Walls originally closed off a small room (about 7 by 12 feet) to the right of the staircase. No one wanted to spend time in here.

AFTER: Lord knocked down the wall and used the space for a fabulous wet bar. Because this area is far from the natural light, she used artificial light, metallic reflective floor tiles, Calacatta marble, white cabinets and a large mirror to keep the light moving around.

She scored this remnant piece of creamy Calacatta marble for another bargain at Pratt & Larson. In addition to a sink and microwave, there are built-in refrigerator drawers.

Painting: Stars Antiques, bar stools: West Elm, bar cart, table lamp: Arteriors; tile: via Pratt & Larson, discontinued

The clients have family on the East Coast and wanted a guest room for cross-country visitors. In the previous guest room, "a giant, wonky closet [left] barely left enough room to walk around the bed," Lord says.

AFTER: Two built-in wardrobes on either side of the headboard take the place of the closet. Drawers underneath the platform bed provide plenty of storage for linens. Now there is also enough room to walk around the bed.

As it turned out, the former guest room was also illegal due to egress issues. Lord added a step disguised as a shelf beneath the window to bring it up to code, then added floating shelves to help camouflage it.

Without room for nightstands, Lord designed the bed to have a shelf behind the top of the headboard for reading lamps, books and glasses. "I designed a heavily tufted headboard to balance out the sleekness of the room," Lord says.

Throw pillows: West Elm

BEFORE: The husband is in a band, and this is his music room, which was rather dark and disheveled before the redesign. It also serves as an overflow guest room.

AFTER: "I upholstered the mattress on the daybed to give it more of a sofa look," Lord says. She also lightened up the walls and added new window treatments, new carpeting and a new desk.

The wooden piece on the side table is some sort of instrument -- anyone want to hazard a guess as to what kind or where it's from?

BEFORE: "The bathroom walls had a hideous texture. Smoothing the walls made the biggest impact in here," Lord says.

AFTER: The metallic tile from the hallway and wet bar room extend into the bathroom, and newly smoothed white walls bounce the light around. The artwork over the commode also pays homage to Portland's bridges.

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