On “Dream Home Makeover,” Syd and Shea McGee seem to be expanding in all directions. They have a giant new office that accommodates their 170 employees, plus a new baby that brings their family member count up to five. So they know just how important it is to make use of every inch of space, and it seems all too fitting that their latest makeover focuses on where a bunch of extra room may be hiding.
In the episode “Basement Transformation,” the McGees head to Draper, UT, to help the Munier family revamp their home’s lower level with a $30,000 budget. This basement (as with basements in so many homes) has become a repository for extra furniture, games, and recreational equipment.
“Basements are always leftover rooms. No one wants to spend a lot of time down there,” Shea observes. “It sounds like they’ve done a lot of work to the backyard and their house, but they haven’t finished the basement. The basement is usually the ultimate hangout spot, so we’re going to fix that up for them.”
While doing this basement makeover, the McGees deliver some excellent tips for converting anyone’s leftover room into places that are playful, practical, and perfect for get-togethers. Here’s what they do and how it might work for your own abode, too.
Create zones to define a large space
The owners have so many requests for the room—including a pizza bar, towel drop-off space, video arcade, pingpong palace, and home theater—that it gets a little crazy.
The pizza bar and video arcade requests are a “formula for a Chuck E. Cheese,” Shea jokes. “The main challenge of this basement is going to be creating distinct zones.”
She decides to divide the cavernous space into a game area, a theater area, and a multipurpose area.
Let there be light
“Basements feel dingy sometimes, and I don’t want you to walk down the stairs and get that effect,” says Shea. “I want it to feel fresh and like it’s an extension of the main-level home.”
She’ll do this by painting the walls a light color in the majority of the space and making the most of the existing windows, which means frosting them to let the natural light in without emphasizing the ground-level view.
Let there be darkness, too
The McGees plan to transform the unused, dark basement bedroom into a media area.
“In the theater space, we’re going dark,” says Shea. “The rest of the basement will feel light and airy, but in the theater space, I want it to feel moody and like you could just curl up on a big couch and watch a movie.”
She says there will be no white paint anywhere in the room, where she uses a deep grayish-blue color on the walls and new built-in shelving and storage. Pops of print wallpaper are added for accent.
The room’s anchors are a giant 85-inch TV screen and a comfy sectional that can seat the entire family and guests.
Architectural detail gives a room distinction
“Basements can be really blah, but I’m really enjoying the opportunity to add architectural detail and character,” says Shea. “Adding shallow beams on the ceiling really gives you something to look at. It draws your eye up, and it really elongates the entire space.”
Tie basement decor to upstairs decor
Despite the basement’s distinct style, Shea wants it to blend in with the rest of the house, and she has a strategy for that.
“I’m adding oak tongue and groove paneling behind the pizza bar because, even though we have some modern elements in the basement space, I still want to add rustic details to tie in with what’s going on upstairs,” she says.
And she’s taking it a step further: “We’re using brown tones to tie in that rustic farmhouse look from upstairs, and then blues and grays to tie in that modern look they’re hoping for in the basement,” she says. It all works together.
How does this basement makeover turn out?
The Muniers are thrilled when they see their new basement.
“I just want to use this space,” says mom Andrea. “We are just so incredibly grateful.”
But no one is more excited about the new basement than daughter Izzy, who immediately challenges Syd to a game of pingpong.
The McGees are happy with the project as well.
“I’m so happy that I could give them a space that they could enjoy as a family, and nurture that love that they share with each other,” Shea says.