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Our Guest Room/Office Basement Suite Reveal … + How To Make A Basement (Office) Feel Warm, Happy And Functional

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This post could also be titled “How Brian Came to Finally Realize That My Habit of Hoarding Beautiful Things Actually Comes in Handy After 20 Years of Being in a Relationship”. I don’t think I bought like anything for this room (maybe 2 things) decor-wise, and simply pulled it all from my admittedly robust prop “inventory” (the garage). Finally, the basement suite reveal is here, after four quick years. It’s like finding the wedding dress the day you get home from your honeymoon. I’m bummed that we didn’t prioritize this room, but proud that we invested enough to make it awesome without putting too much into it, unable to recoup cost in resale (I was going to do Scottish inspired plaid wallpaper – for my “eccentric Scottish grandpa” theme for one Brian Henderson – which might have been a harder sell). So here we are. I don’t think I have before photos because I’m new at blogging and don’t know how to document projects properly. When we bought the house it was not dissimilar to this state, except cement floor and probably a less good gray paint color but the potential was great. Same windows. Same built-ins. Two less support beams.

Here’s how it all went down. After we finished the mountain house I was like this is crazy, it’s time to actually work on this room and use it. Julie came up with a plan for the bathroom but once we got a quote for it we realized it would be like $15k – $20k. I really just wanted it to be “cute” and even “habitable” but this wasn’t where we should invest real money. A couple of months after the pandemic hit I realized that this was a good time to do it (on even more of a budget – life felt precarious). We needed to put down waterproof flooring, paint, and make the bathroom “cute”. So three weeks ago it was ready for me to style and shoot, which I tried to do without buying anything or where I did buy it was affordable (the bed).

The biggest and best change we did was put down this vinyl “wood” flooring that was super affordable, looks GREAT and is totally waterproof which is great for a basement that has an exterior door up two steps. It’s from Cali Bamboo, and is the Seaboard Oak color. Velinda used it in her basement kitchen and loved it, so I copied her:) It absolutely warmed up the space and has fooled many people who didn’t know (if you look closely you can tell it’s not real wood, but if you are just checking out the space it looks GREAT). I’m VERY happy with it and HIGHLY recommend.

As you can see in the “before” photo above, there is this cabinet on the wall that would have been super off-center to the bed. I wanted to get rid of it completely and drywall over, but Brian was like “you want to get rid of storage in a basement office?” which was a good point/question. Thank god I had been hoarding this amazing vintage Japanese indigo tapestry that I bought on Etsy last year. We hung it up, it fit perfectly both over the cabinet and behind the bed and created a focal point for the room. YES. Permission to keep hoarding awesome stuff, accepted.

I bought the rug years ago from Rejuvenation’s vintage site, the bench is Katy Skelton (from my Glendale days at the foot of my bed, and was at our piano but now lives here), the bed is Target (coming soon!), the black standing lamp is Target (no longer available), and the bedding is almost all what I’ve already had except the teal blanket by Justina Blakeney that is new (and awesome – so heavyweight and such a pretty thick weave). Lumbar pillow by Block Shop, leather pillow from Target (old), patterned blanket from Schoolhouse Electric (one of my all-time favs).

I have to pat myself on the back for making color and pattern totally wake this room up without making it feel small and busy or cluttered. It’s actually a really great space. Light, but cozy and I’m not just saying that because we are selling it. It has enough light to not feel like you are in a basement (windows on two sides) but where it’s located on the house just feels like a cozy studio, a little escape. Brian worked here for a couple of years and loved it. Also, the paint color is one of my absolute favorites (we have it in our bedroom, too) and pretty much captures “light yet cozy” well. It’s Ammonite by Farrow & Ball. Also, if you want more gray paint colors we love head here.

The built-ins were already there, but we took out the third shelf which allowed for us to lean larger pieces of art. All of those pieces are things that I love and will likely always hoard. I was so happy to give them a place in our house, even for just a few months. I think the only things still available is the teal sculpture from artist B. Zippy and the quiet painting by Addie Juell (that I purchased from the Portland project). I styled the bench out with a couple of pillows (Target) and throw (West Elm and similar). We always had plans of making a big custom cushion, but, well… we never did. The vintage “sconce” (which can also be a table lamp) I bought from Amsterdam Modern years ago.

On the other side of the room, we have the “office”.

Admittedly I’m VERY impressed with how this turned out from what we had on hand. I’ve been hoarding that desk for 3 years (remember the Parisian bedroom reveal??) and it’s a big desk to hoard (from Ava home). But it was too pretty to get rid of and I knew it would come in handy, three years later. Indeed it did.

The wingback is from Target (still so good and still available) and is such a good scale for the desk and adds so much warmth here. The lamp was a score from the flea market ($15) but I had to get it repaired ($15) and then my guy at Practical Props in the valley (Ian) threw in the shade because it was “damaged” and I was like, “aren’t we all, Ian? Aren’t we all?“. It’s probably from the ’90s and yes has some scratches and maybe a dent but for free that shape in black is so awesome on that lamp and you honestly don’t notice. (This is why I can’t have real paying residential clients … I’m a perfectionist in a billion ways – I tweaked that vignette to camera for 45 minutes – but will absolutely let things like that slide).

The painting is also from the flea market, the round sculpture is CB2, pillow from Target (old), and the blanket I’ve had forever from Rebecca Atwood.

I had that leftover wall hook from the mountain house (kinda wish I had hung it up here, actually … maybe I will after we sell) – from Lawson Fenning. I threw a Parker Clay bag, some yardage of vintage plaid (I had to bring the “Scottish” in somehow) and then I had bought this beautiful necklace from 54kibo.

Here you can see the full space on the other side of the room leading into the bathroom which I’ll show you very soon. The corner where the desk is was always awkward so I’m just so happy that the desk really engages that space and you don’t really notice the columns that float in the room. The foundation ran along the side of the wall (I think the previous owners dug down to make it tall enough to create a room) and I was like, “what the heck do I do with this ledge?”. I joked about lining it with candles. I even tried leaning art. I put a tray with “keys” and no matter what I did it looked junky, cluttered, and drew attention to the oddness. I ended up putting a plant, and stack of books on the window and called it a day.

All in all I’m honestly so happy with it. It came alive, while maintaining its bare-bones function (bed for guests, desk for office), feels warm, and exciting without feeling cluttered at all. And it goes to show that with a neutral foundation (walls, floor) you can add a lot of eclectic styles within a color palette (blues and wood). It’s an EHD formula that works for those of you who are into it. Although to be fair it did take years of collecting all of those things… I’d WFH here in a heartbeat… YOU?

In case you missed any of the other reveals so far check them out: The Living Room | The Kid’s Shared Bedroom | Basement BathroomElliot’s Room | Kitchen and Dining Room | The Entry | The Front Yard

** Photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

Fin Mark

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Herselfindublin

This is just gorgeous

Hilary

This is absolutely gorgeous! I’ve really missed reveals like this – nothing fancy, lots of random flea market stuff, no major renos – this is awesome!

Lena

Amazing work! And isn’t it the best feeling, when your hoarding tendencies pay off? Speaking of basements, would you guys consider doing a “how to style a basement”-guide? I just bought a house (YAAY!) that’s very small and single storey, but has a renovated basement with additional rooms where we will put an office and a guest room (that might become a kids room in the future). How should I tackle the high and narrow windows? The slightly low ceiling? How do I make it as cosy and inviting as it can be? HALP!

thank you! and yes, i really want to do more basement content because I have so many friends who are now of course wanting theirs to be awesome, but no windows (or small/high) and just feeling depressing. When we move to Oregon I have two friends with hands way high up vollunteering for a makeover so hopefully that will happen. xx

Lena

Oooohh! Can’t wait! 😀

LouAnn

What a lovely room. Definitely doesn’t look like a basement. Interesting how the neutral chair and the bench at the foot of the bed really add quiet balance to all the great color. It’s also interesting to see how a little thing like removing one shelf makes for a more eye-catching built-in.

That tapestry is beautiful. The thing that’s always bothered me, however, about hanging tapestries is that bit of sag in the middle. I want that line to be straight! Does that bother anyone else? Or just us crazy straight-line obsessives? I think I would frame the tapestry but that would, of course, cost a fortune.

Patricia

You can sew a sleeve (hand sew a muslin strip) across the top and slip a dowel slightly longer than your textile and hang it from hooks. I’ve hung vintage quilts that way. I also hung a Shinto wedding kimono in a similar fashion. With kimonos, slip the rod through the sleeves.

we were going to do just that, Patricia, but then lost motivation and time. And then i realized that i’m taking it with me so maybe I won’t want it to be a tapestry in the future (maybe reupholster a bench in it or something) so I just left it. But agreed that it would look better 🙂

Maggie

I love it so much. And I love that it mostly came together from what you had. I’ll never be where you are design wise but I’ve reached a point in my life where I have finally amassed a number of pretty things and finding new and fresh spots for them always brings me joy. This room is just that… fresh. What an incredible bonus space for whomever buys your home.

Rusty

It looks like the Au Pair accommodation for a wealthy family.

ooh, send in the Au Pair! 🙂

I too love these reveals – so great your furniture and decor is collected (or hoarded) and reassembled and tweaked for a brand new look. Never would guess this is a basement room.

Margaret

I LOVE that Japanese tapestry. If it should ever need a home….
Actually love the whole room–this is a big part of what I come here for; to see how you find the beauty in the relationship of previously unrelated things.

thank you 🙂 I agree re being super eclectic and its truly what I love doing the most (and what i’ll continue to do). it just makes the most interesting and soul-full rooms. xx

Kris

I also love the Japanese indigo tapestry — so much so that reading this post led me to Etsy, and I ordered two for above the beds in the guest rooms of our new old house in Portland. Emily, welcome back (soon) to Oregon! I was gone for twenty years and don’t regret my return home.

Louise

Really, really beautiful. I love when stuff that you already have comes together so nicely. Also, If we’re talking content we’d love to see, I’d love to see a “when to paint the ceiling” post. Sort of random to think of that in this post since the wall color is so light, but I did think it and could really use some guidance on that question.

that is a great question and good post idea. on it 🙂

Kate

I pretty much always prefer a painted ceiling but definitely anytime bulkheads or weird bump outs are involved. It makes them stick out a lot less.

Azure

If you do this, can you also address what to do if you have recessed lights in the ceiling? I have a tall dining room ceiling (10′) so was thinking about painting or wallpapering it, but it has recessed lights so I think it might look weird.

Cb

This is my favorite room in your house…. and possibly my most favorite room that you’ve styled.

ha. thanks! I do really really love it. proves the ‘just put pretty things together in a color palette’ theory for sure. xx

Monica

Aren’t we all? Yes! Yes we are.

Patricia

my kind of reveal: no tricky painting techniques or busy wallpaper, just pretty collected things with a color story.

Sam L.

“(Ian) threw in the shade because it was “damaged” and I was like, “aren’t we all, Ian? Aren’t we all?“…
HILARIOUS!! Literally blurted out laughing!
(And the space looks amazing, btw)

Rusty

Buddhist Abbot, Ajahn Brahm, has a favourite story about how the most interesting, beautiful tree is one with gnarls and twists and turns to its branches….a similar theme!

Jamie Nohr

Beautiful room! I just love this house; too bad I live on the other coast!;).

Questions: where is the entrance into the room? Through the bathroom? Is this beneath the kitchen/dining room?

Kj

The exterior door is between the two banks of windows. You can just see the edge of the step down painted darker in some of the photos.

Rusty

Oooh, I’d stay there for a m9nth, no problem!
You’re so right the vibe is warmed up, cozy and fresh, all at once!
Now we know whyyyyyy you disappeared for a long while. You’ve done heaps of work styling the house to put it on the market!
Verrrry nice, Mrs Henderson. 👍

hahahah. yes I was SO BUSY and then you know I can’t keep a secret if I talk so I kinda shut up for a while because I wasn’t ready to talk about it. but i’m BACK!

Rusty

Hahaha 😂Loose lips sink ships!
It must still be so hard to not talk about it….spesh with your hoards of fans asking trillions of questions! xx

Donna

Soulful! I could stare at those vignettes for color and texture inspiration for hours. And the shelf styling is spot on for the room. One of your best!

Beth

Love it! It’s easily my favorite room in your home.

Allison

Would you be willing to share the Etsy seller for the textile? I love it so much!

ooh let me look. here you go: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Kofuya some awesome stuff right now actually. xx

Allison

Thank you! I am now on an Etsy deep dive. Will be perfect for above my couch in a blue toned living room!

Annie

As an FYI, they ship from Japan and due to covid restrictions, they estimate 8-12 weeks to ship by sea. I ordered something and they gave me the option to cancel if the wait was too long for me but I think my purchase will be worth the wait.

chelsea

This is beautiful! Will you leave the styling as is to sell the house? Or will you make changes for staging purposes? I’m always interested in how much style can remain in a house on the market.

we left it as is! I was worried about too much stuff, but everyone agreed to just leave it.

LCH

Would love to see a post on basement flooring options! Probably not an issue in SoCal but coming from a colder climate city I always wonder how flooring impacts temperature…love the look of the vinyl but would it be too cold etc??

Erica

I’m in New England. We put high-end vinyl in our basement and it’s both waterproof and not cold, so perfect for a basement. I believe there is a cork layer underneath?

Vicki Williams

I’m in Phoenix. Renovating an upstairs, 2 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms and a large sewing area in the big hall that adjoins all this. Clients a big dog they love but she is old and has occasional, ahem… problems. So we needed something cleanable and waterproof…and quiet, so not tile, so this was perfect!
After much research found out that heat will cause it to warp and buckle so eventually had to scrap the idea because my clients go north for the summer and although they have A/C it would get too hot up there.
So long answer but in other climes it should be wonderful and we may put it downstairs in that part of the renovation. Some of it looks so real! We really love the products.

Annie

Okay this is one of my favorite bedrooms you’ve ever done. It hardly seems fair that it’s a last minute/thrown together with stuff on hand/Saturday post space!! Too much talent in one little body. 🙂

thank you 🙂 its just a reminder that flea markets are your best friend. I MISS THEM SO MUCH.

Suzanne

I miss the flea market so much!!!

Amy C

Fun Scottish fact: the Henderson Clan Motto: Sola Virtus Nobilitat (Virtue alone ennobles).

AHHHH thank you!!! I’m going to tell him this right now.

Jessica

It’s wonderful! This gives me hope for my too-dark, low-ish ceilinged, no right angles, awkward built-ins/columns living room <3

ha. seriously. I thought those columns ruined the room which is also why i deprioritized it, but they DIDN’T. I thought about a billion things to do with them but ultimately just making the room good enough you just don’t notice them. xx

So lovely…and calming! Adore this space!

Lavinia

This is the reason I keep returning to this blog. I love everything about this. What a complete success.

Jessica

I love this space! So pretty.

Kate

This is my favorite room you’ve done in a long time!

Suzanne

I’m a fellow hoarder, and we recently were able to almost completely furnish a small beach apartment. This reveal is wonderful and so inspiring on how we can rearrange in our homes to create new, beautiful spaces. I’m also motivated to create my own tapestry from my hoards of fabric. I love it!

Vicki Williams

Oooh! Great idea! I have so many beautiful textiles that I can’t manage to part with and they just sit in a box! Thank you! somehow it never dawned on me.

Amy

Is this the same teal blanket from the kids’ room? I love this color! Love this room and prefer it to the English granny style.

heather

Hi Emily, This room is so great!! I love a blue/white/natural theme. I have also used tapestries as art, above beds and just on walls. You probably already know this, but if you want to keep your beautiful tapestry from stretching/sagging, you can sew (or have someone else sew) a ‘quilt hanging’ canvas pocket to the back, which you then slide a flat piece of wood into, about 2″ wide across the length and have it hang from this. It will pgive integrity to your textile, and also give you a more finished look for a headboard or art piece. Way to go on this room! It feels inviting, earthy, and something my family and friends would love to work/sleep in. : )

Angela

So light and airy! I like the blue color palette. I’d work in here! And happily be a guest in here. I really like the window ledge too. How is this a basement? How much underground is this room? The big window looks mostly the same height as a ground or upper level window.

Christian Conway

Is the wall behind the bed painted white? If so, what color white?

Lara

Emily Henderson you’ve done it again!
I love that this room without furniture seems like it would be pretty generic, but just the styling alone turned it into a room that is very interesting and far from generic. It’s inspiring to see that you can bring so much life and joy into a regular space without any fancy diy hacks or permanent changes. Also, this room is so refreshing because it feels timeless while at the same time being something completely different than what I’ve seen on pinterest or instagram over and over again.

Harmony

So gorgeous! We just renovated our basement and this is major inspo! Any chance you’d share where the tree stump side table is from? I didn’t see the source listed (maybe it’s vintage?) and love it 🙂 Thanks for sharing this space!

Diane

Love, love, love the room and your determination to use what you had on hand, to wonderful effect. Every detail is perfect, though I must say, the baseball bat in the middle of the bed “before” picture might be my favorite touch.

Lynn W

This came together and is really beautiful! Love that rug and all the colors in this room👍

Hi Emly,

Your interior for office looks awesome!!

Also your colour contrasts for basement and rooms are interesting and
looks great!!

xoxo__
http://brunettedemands.com/

i love this! doesn’t feel basement-y at all. and, i am totally encouraged by this to continue hoarding pretty things 🙂

Liz M

This room and this post are sooooo good. I know it probably doesn’t ‘pay the bills’ kind of post but it was enjoyable to read about using what you already have and making it work! I would love to see MORE of this on the blog. We all can’t go out and get $2k rugs when ours don’t work – so some more budget friendly and ‘use what you have’ posts are what I think we all need right now (or maybe just me?) over the super aspirational rooms 🙂 Excited to see your new house and how you will make all your existing house stuff work in there!!

Erin

This is so inspiring! Amazing how much magic can be found in an awkward, basement room with vinyl floors. The tapestry is stunning…the perfect centrepiece for EHD’s classic style. I love love love it

Tea

This room looks wonderful! I now love this bed frame- when might it be available for purchase?

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