Jane and Johan are a sophisticated, stylish duo with a cosmopolitan lifestyle and two busy careers. The couple adores throwing parties and entertaining guests. And Belgium-born Johan owns a luxury chocolate company, which means he often has colleagues visiting from around the world for in-home chocolate-tasting sessions.
The problem was that their lovely house was really tight on leisure space. The living and dining rooms are tiny, with not much room for people to comfortably move around. They wanted to use their basement for the overflow, but the space was drab, awkward and filled to capacity with boxes and old furniture. So, after luring me in with enough chocolate to keep me bouncing off the walls for a long time, I agreed to turn the couple’s style-starved basement into a feast for the senses.
The space was one big, beige box with tricky angles, several bulkheads and low ceilings. I wanted to play down the architecture and use color, fabric and space-expanding techniques to make the room feel bigger, brighter and warmer.
I decided to wrap the room in neutral shades: cream, tan, gray and, of course, chocolate! I kept the existing beige carpeting and painted the rest of the room in a light champagne color, which helped to smooth out the inelegant angles.
There is a big column smack dab in the center of the room, and since I couldn’t remove it, I decided to use it to my advantage. I wrapped the lower half in warm wood cabinetry that houses media equipment on one side and a flat-screen television on the other. I also used this column to help me divide the space into two zones: the lounge zone and the “feature” wall zone.
In the lounge area, I warmed things up with a new electric fireplace that has a mantle and storage in rich chocolate-toned wood. On either side of the fireplace I installed smoky heather-gray banquettes for a sophisticated vibe — the perfect place for sipping cocktails or indulging in a few bonbons.
For additional seating, I installed a gorgeous black microfiber couch with cream damask pillows, two light-colored chairs and a variety of pillows in accents of steely blue and luscious chocolate.
Behind the couch is a very small window that also needed help. I gave it the illusion of size by putting up an 8-foot curtain rod and hanging dummy panels in shimmering champagne and sheers in luxurious cream.
On the other side of the room’s center post I created a “wow” area with an elegant feature wall. I used the corporate pattern from Johan’s business as inspiration and created huge patterned panels, painted in a stormy sky blue color that hang on the wall. Below the panels I installed a little bench that provided even more seating for chocolate tasting.
At the far end of the room, I set up some much needed storage for the couple to store their clothes and substantial wine collection.
To brighten up the space I put in track lighting over the fireplace, a crystal chandelier in the lounge area and pendant lighting near the feature wall.
With a few final touches, including a splendid area rug, a mirror covered coffee table and several pieces of art, this room was ready.
By using colors, furnishings and finishes that helped to make the room seem larger and warmer, I created the perfect place for Jane and Johan to share quiet moments, entertain friends or host huge, mouth-watering, chocolate-tasting soirees! Now that’s divine!
Interior decorator Candice Olson is host of HGTV’s “Divine Design.” For more ideas or information visit www.divinedesign.tv. Her column is syndicated by Scripps Howard News Service.