At the end of an extensive renovation of her family’s 4,600-square-foot condo in a Brookline Victorian, interior designer Cecilia Casagrande had one more order of business — to make over the basement. “I wanted a dedicated space for the boys so my husband and I would have a chance to read the newspaper in peace,” she says.
Casagrande, her husband, Joseph, and their three sons, who now range in age from 8 to 13, moved into the four-story dwelling in December 2014. Not liking the home’s basement kitchen, Casagrande had a new one built one floor above as part of the big renovation. Creating a fun lower-level getaway for the kids, along with a mudroom for the side entry, was the next priority.
The original kitchen ate up about a third of the basement’s square footage and would have to go. Casagrande had it removed for about $350, donating the old appliances, cabinetry, and countertops to Boston Building Resources, a nonprofit reseller of used housing materials.
The former kitchen’s footprint became a mudroom with a pair of closets and shelving under the stairs. Airy slats replaced the stairwell wall, and modern hexagonal tiles replaced the flooring. The starting point for the design was the “Merian Palm” wallpaper, by Timorous Beasties, hand-printed with lush foliage, salamanders, and birds — a splurge, but worth it. “It perfectly reflects the tropical vibe I imagined,” Casagrande says. “Plus, I had recently used it in a client’s home and couldn’t stand being away from it!”
At the far end, she added a crackled porcelain utility sink with custom cement tile backsplash. A potting bench beside it was made from IKEA cabinets topped with a $150 marble slab from Boomerangs, a thrift store in Jamaica Plain.
Around the corner in the family room, shades of Farrow & Ball teal and blue paint cover the walls, along with “Miami” wallpaper, a design by Cole & Son. It depicts regional architecture and vegetation that remind the couple of South Beach roof deck parties. The sectional sofa converts to two beds, transforming hangout central into guest quarters when needed.
The family room opens onto an exercise room, which adjoins a game room. The Ping-Pong table, a gift from Casagrande’s in-laws, is often the site of giant Lego Star Wars battles, too. A photographic mural of oversize banana leaves and palm fronds called “Wild Thing” by Flavor Paper anchors the back wall. A painting by a Miami street artist purchased at a music festival adds a hot spot of color.
“The space is well loved,” Casagrande says. “The boys talk, get pizza, watch movies, play darts, listen to music. Even their friends tell me how much they love hanging out down there.”
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