Gardner/Fox Wins Top Awards for Best Finished Basement

20 Oct

Gardner/Fox has once again been named a winner in the Annual Qualified Remodeler Master Design Awards Contest, taking both Gold and Silver awards in the Finished Basement category. Sponsored by Qualified Remodeler magazine, the Master Design Awards is the premier national contest recognizing outstanding achievement in residential remodeling projects in 22 categories.  (For more information visit

Master Design Award – Gold, Best Finished Basement

A dark, unfinished basement became a bright, comfortable living space the entire family could enjoy. The goal of the renovation was to maximize every square inch of space, make it feel open and spacious, and include a bar, game room, exercise room, play area and bathroom/changing room.

To accomplish this task, Gardner/Fox architect Jeff Brinton aimed to build as few walls as possible, and only do so when absolutely necessary.  The best way to separate the space was to designate functions for specific areas. New walls were erected only to seal off mechanical equipment, to separate the exercise room from a sitting area, and the bathroom from the arts and crafts workshop.

Unfinished Basement before Renovation

Before Before the renovation, the basement, which stored seasonal equipment and other odds and ends, had a concrete floor, exposed plumbing and floor joists, and stone foundation walls.

Finished Basement after Renovation

Wide Open Spaces! longer dark and uninviting, the basement now provides a casual counterpoint to the more formal living spaces in the rest of the house. The architect dressed up the stairway with a wooden handrail and balusters and created a storage area beneath the stairs. The arched opening beneath the stairs maintains the connection between rooms. Effective use of recessed lighting also contributes to the basement’s appeal. Support posts that had to remain for structural purposes were disguised with attractive architectural casing.

Fireplace Finished Basement

Sit Down, Relax, & Enjoy . . . To make a basement feel downright inviting and comfortable, there’s no better way than a well-designed home theater. A flat-screen TV, built-in speakers, and a gas fireplace make up the basement’s entertainment center. “Most evenings, we’re in there watching our favorite show on the flat-screen, sharing a cocktail,” says the homeowner. The family saved costs and space by positioning the TV area around the fireplace rather than creating a special room.

Unfinished Basement Before Renovation

Kid’s Area and Exercise Room Before Before the renovation, French doors and a side window provided the basement’s only sources of natural light. Natural light is the best way to illuminate any room, but most basements get very little of it.

Finished Basement Kids Area and Exercise Room

Kid’s Area and Exercise Room After Locating the small exercise room in the well-lit back corner prevents it from feeling closed off and claustrophobic. Windows and wall mirrors keep the workout room feeling spacious and open even though it is separated from the rest of the basement.

Windows in Finished Basement

Let There Be Light The architect capitalized on the available natural light in this basement by installing windows on the new interior wall to allow light to pass from room to room.

Finished Basement Bar Renovation

Loaded with Hidden Extras A large custom bar by Stimmel Design Group beckons to all who descend the staircase. Innovative storage solutions at the bar include shelving in a column that opens from three sides, a mini fridge paneled to resemble drawers, and glass front display cabinetry for stemware. While it’s obvious that upper cabinets hold wine glasses and beer steins, guests might not know that icemakers and bottle-cooling drawers are concealed behind the fine cabinetry.

Arched Opening Beneath basement stairs

Making the Connection An arched walkway beneath the stairs provides better flow and opens up an otherwise isolated corner.

Arched opening Finished Basement Custom Bar Finished Basement

The arched form, repeated at the rear hall, the entrance to the powder room, and in the cabinetry at the rear of the bar, becomes a unifying design element.

Custom Trophy Case Finished Basement

Winning Combination Constructed to resemble oversized furniture pieces, the wall-spanning custom cabinetry continues along the front of the house. The homeowner needed an area to display swords and trophies collected from NCAA fencing championships right along with trophies and awards from the kids’ activities. Brightly lit custom pullout drawers house the fencing sword collection.

Finished Basement Game Room

Throw a couple of arcade games in the basement, and the party’s at your house every week. The open floor plan left plenty of space for arcade games, resulting in a popular (and safe!) place for teens and friends to hang out and a terrific place for the family to enjoy together.

Bathroom and Changing Area in Finished Basement Full Bath in Finished Basement

Bathroom and Changing Area At the far end of the basement, new French doors provide convenient access to the new pool and visually balance the existing doors. A changing room provides an area for guests to shower and change before and after relaxing in the pool.

Master Design Award – Silver,  Finished Basement

Gardner/Fox architect Damian Kelly reworked the floor plan of a compartmentalized basement to create an area where a family could relax and entertain with ease.

Upon moving into a new home, the family of three wished to reconfigure their basement. Generous living space on the main floors negated the need for the basement’s extra bed and bath. Furthermore, their lifestyle would not benefit from the confines of the small exercise room. The rest of the floor consisted of a family room, billiards room with bar, media room, and unfinished storage area, all of which the homeowners wished to retain. The couple envisioned an area where they could entertain friends and family and where their school age daughter could play with her friends.

Basement Bar Before Renovation

Bar Before Renovation Cabinetry from the existing bar was salvaged for re-use in a new location. The  old bar room became the new home for the wine vault.

Basement Bar After Renovation and Relocation

Wet Bar – Creatively Re-using Existing Cabinets Cabinetry and relative accoutrement were salvaged from the existing bar for re-use at the bar’s new location. Besides using it as a normal wet bar, the family stores kids snacks and drinks for the daughter’s play dates. It’s a convenient location since the basement opens to the spacious rear yard where the children often play.

Basement Before Renovation

View from Family Room through Exercise Room Before Renovation Before the renovation, walls and doors inhibited traffic flow through the basement. The awkwardly placed bathroom cut the basement in half. Removing the bathroom and knocking down walls opened up the space.

Basement After Renovation - sofa to study

View from Bar Area to Library After Renovation Without the bedroom and bathroom walls, themes rather than walls separate rooms. Uninhibited sunlight spilling in through the basement’s rear windows evenly illuminates the entire room.

Billiards Room after Basement Renovation

Billiards Room After Renovation The former living room provides an expansive new home for the family’s billiards table. The extra space allows players to walk around the table to find the perfect shot without worrying about jabbing opponents or team mates with the pool stick.

Cigar Room in Finished Basement Renovation

Library and Cigar Room The cigar study and adjoining wine cellar find an intimate setting in the former billiards room. Glass front arched French doors keep smoke in and children out, ­while maintaining a visual connection to the rest of the lower level. Luxurious finishes and custom cabinetry exhibits the home owners preference for class and sophistication.

Main LIne Basement Renovation - Entry to Wine Vault

Entry to Wine Vault Glass front arched French doors also appear at the entrance to the wine vault. Two courses of Owens/Corning cultured brick in antique red accent the arched opening.

Wine Cellar Main Line Basement Renovation

Wine Vault After Renovation The architect met the challenge of conjuring up the feeling of an old vintner’s cave in a fairly new home by covering the interior of the wine vault with caramel country ledgestone and brandywine dressed field stone. The barrel vaulted ceiling mimics that of a dug-out cave. Owens/Corning cultured brick lines the ceiling of the barrel vault, parallel with the curve.

Basement Home Theater Before

Media Room Before Although the relatively new home featured a media room, it consisted of nothing more than a designated room with wires dangling from the ceiling.

Media Room After Basement Renovation Media Room - Main Line Basement Renovation

Media Room An actual home theater system was installed  and finished during the renovation process to create a fully functional state-of-the-art media room.

Basement Powder Room After Renovation Basement Powder Room After Renovation

Powder Room The second full bathroom was converted into a powder room with new fixtures and finishes. Patterned tiles frame the vanity mirror and hold it in place.

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