As if we didn't have enough going on with the new back porch, new fence and the new basement stairwell, we have another project in the works: our basement.
The basement has never been finished, so for the first time we actually have a clean slate to work with...albeit one that's always been packed with quite a bit of stuff:
The good news is that this 'before' photo is from quite a while ago. In fact, the basement is now cleaned out. (That was the other big use for the dumpster we rented this summer.) We're guessing this is the first time that the basement has been this empty in it's 95 year history.
So, what's the plan for the space? Well...
...after a lot of discussion we've decided to take a very different approach for the basement. We're going to do it in a loft style.
At first we were a bit anxious about the idea, since we've been so focused on using traditional styles for the rest of the house. We've certainly not been as strict as some Name Your Link">others can be in regards to our own bungalow restoration, but we've tried to stay true to the original Craftsman design.
One thing that convinced us was this great blog post on The Loft Look for Less over at WiseBread. They had great thougths on how a loft style, when done well, can fit in to a variety of architectural styles while also easing the budget strains that come from home improvement.
No realtor or design professional is going to recommend putting a modern industrial style loft right next to your formal Victorian dining room. Not exactly good for resale value, right? But consider the use of the loft look as a money saving strategy for the makeover of a basement into a work out space or an attic into a family game room or teen space. These areas don't really integrate with the rest of the house, and at least a more affordable rough finishing with track lighting, MDF board, or spray painted concrete foundation walls will get things started. You can always get more detailed later, if you want.
This seemed like really interesting thinking in our situation. In truth, this is also very consistent with the bungalow's original emphasis on open plan design, design suited to local context, and practical solutions made from simple materials.
It also helped that we came across some interesting photos of loft-style basements, like this one from Rate My Room:
The fact that an open ceiling can help ensure enough headroom in the basement (a classic problem in Chicago) was a great realization. That alone was probably the biggest selling point on the idea.
So, with our overall approach in place we're quickly turning to a whole world of new design choices and decisions ahead of us. It's actually really fun to start thinking about an entirely different architectural style...we'll start posting some of our ideas here in the spriit of sharing. Eager to hear what others might suggest!