part of the basement still functions as a mechanical space, the
entrance into the finished portion and its original wood doors
preserve the antiquity of the 1920s-era home.
Photography by Matt Haas
the basement of a Washington Highlands home, Matthew Jahns of Refined
Renovations, Wauwatosa, understood the homeownersí desire to have an
adult space to call their own. "When they (the homeowners) came to
us describing what they wanted to do, they said they wanted a space for
them to casually host neighborhood parties, holiday parties, that type
of thing," says Jahns. "We had previously done a third floor
space for the kids, so this didnít need to be a space for
was drawn from the look of a classic Irish pub, and the result is a
space that feels welcoming and warm, both subliminally and physically.
"The space radiates warmth ó literally," says Jahns, noting
the presence of an in-floor hydronic heating system. "Itís a very
comfortable space even during the coldest of months." Beams wrapped
in wood add dimension to the ceiling, and a stucco finish, which is used
throughout the home, covers the space between the beams.
The home was built
in 1925, so durability was also a leading consideration. The tile floor,
for example, is a practical choice, but its herringbone setting ó a
subtle touch of luxury ó lends to the basementís European pub feel.
"(The basement) was destined to be utilized as living space even if
the original house didnít structure itself toward it," explains
Jahns. "Because of its windows and fireplace, it wanted to be used
as living space. Working within those parameters to make it such was
really challenging and exciting at the same time."
gradual curve, intentionally resembling the look of a film strip,
wraps around the ceilingís mechanicals.
For Jake Ruiz of
QRS Group, Pewaukee, his West Allis home is much more than a place to
live ó it also functions as a resource for the remodeling firmís
customers. "We use the whole house as a showhouse for our
customers," says Ruiz. "Customers come over before we start a
job, and itís a great source of inspiration."
The in-home theater features a
110-inch ultrawide screen, walls covered in acoustically transparent
fabric and 13 speakers, 11 of which are hidden.
The homeís full
basement renovation is reflective of QRS Groupís ability to blend high
design and functionality. "Because itís a lower level, it was
important to have really good air temperature control and lighting
control," says Ruiz. Heated tile floors warm the air when itís
cold outside, and in the theater, carpet is raised onto a platform,
creating a vapor area that deflects moisture and prevents water damage
including the blinds and lighting, are automatic and can be controlled
via iPhone or iPad. Customized settings were accounted for, too.
"When you press the movie button, for instance, the blinds go down,
the lights dim, the projector turns on, and the whole iPad becomes your
remote control for the theater," explains Ruiz. "It makes it
enjoyable instead of stressful."
And despite the
smaller size of the overall space, Ruiz found creative ways to make it
feel larger, such as keeping the rafters above the bar area exposed.
"I eliminated any mechanical and then sprayed them the color of
inkwell ó that increases the feel of the height of the ceiling,"
he says. "Because of that extra height and the different color, it
really builds so much more character into the bar."
spacious retreat serves as a place for Coach Wojo and the team to
review game footage.
Steve and Lindsey
Wojciechowski relocated their family to the Milwaukee area about 18
months ago ó just in time for Steve, more commonly known as Coach Wojo,
to start his new job as head coach of Marquette Universityís menís
renovation included the addition of a kid-friendly basketball
court, where Jack Wojciechowski has already perfected his dunking
The couple have
since extensively renovated the basement of their Mequon home, hiring
Stephen Betts of Penny Mustard Furniture and SJB Designs to assist with
the project. The space now functions as a multipurpose room ó a place
to entertain and socialize, a place for their two young boys to play,
and a place for Steve and his team to review footage after a game.
"We put the big sectional sofa in so everyone would have a place to
sit and have a good view of the projection TV," says Betts, adding
that carpet was installed in that area of the space to improve
Betts used a
monochromatic gray color palette to transform the area ó previously
decked out in dark wood and beige fabrics ó into one that feels calmer
and more relaxing. "They (the Wojciechowskis) wanted more of a
lived-in, warm look down here," he explains. "To keep costs at
minimum, we added a paint finish to the cabinets and tore the top
completely off of the bar and installed granite to give it a cleaner,
sleeker look because the ceilings are so low." K&L Construction
worked as the projectís general contractor.