With housing prices creeping ever upwards, home owners already living in their dream locations are getting more creative with their spaces instead of incurring the costs of moving to bigger homes. Extensions are a fantastic way to add more space and in areas short of land, like cities, subterranean extensions are quickly becoming the expansion of choice. But how do you go about designing your perfect basement space? SHH Architecture & Interior Design are experts at creating subterranean living spaces for their clients. Here they share their top tips for basement design with us…
Contrary to stereotypes, basements don’t have to be dark and dingy. Instead, they can be cool secret leisure spaces, with swimming pools, games rooms and even a personalised secret cinema.
SHH Architecture & Interior Design, an award-winning London-based practice, specialize in transforming houses into truly exceptional residences. In the heart of Chelsea, the talented team of 60 revived a three floor apartment into an ultra-luxe home with an outstanding subterranean level. Similarly, the team completed a five-storey house in West London, in which they converted a Victorian property into a luxury family home. This space includes a large swimming pool and leisure complex below ground, complete with a spa, sauna, steam room, gym, bar area, changing rooms, toilets, walk-in wine cellar, playroom and cinema/media room. Creative Head of Residential Interiors at SHH, Susie McLaren, explains that ‘these designs are based on the principle of lateral living as it makes use of the entire living area smartly’.
There are a few steps to remember when creating your basement design…
Create an Atmosphere
Before decorating your subterranean interior, it’s important to recognize what look and feel you want for the space – this includes colors, materials and themes. When renovating the West London house, the SHH team transformed the lower level into an exceptional leisure area. This began in the stair lobby section, with a feature walnut spine wall at the base of the stair and a bespoke walnut wine display unit directly opposite. The stair lobby then leads into the spectacular pool area, which has a skylight along the longest wall of the pool creating natural lighting effects on the water. The pool floor is in a blue glass mosaic in a blended gradient of shading, with the same flooring used for the Jacuzzi, which has basalt tiled sides.
Get Funky with Lighting
The allocation of space can be emphasized by the design of the ceiling lighting so it’s important to choose carefully. Additional illumination can also be created by a selection of striking lamps or light installations to give the space more character. In the Chelsea apartment renovation, the SHH team used sconces either side of the fireplace, which can be reflected on subterranean levels too. Made by Ochre, the bespoke design of these lights was based on eucalyptus leaves whose shape echoes the organic arrangement of the ceiling lights to give it a warm but open feel. Layers of lighting can also offer a range of settings designed to change the mood subtly when required.
Choose Clever Colours
More often than not, natural light in underground spaces can be sparing so it’s crucial to use hues that are natural and flattering. The subtle and sophisticated entrance hallway of the West London house is lined with a palette of natural materials in neutral and soft brown shades, which have been applied to every surface from the grey and chocolate stones of the floor and skirting, to the polished plaster walls and the bronze panels of the ceiling. Mixed with a range of artificial lighting, softer colors can help the space feel light and airy.
Make it a Social Hub
The social hub of the home is most often the living room. However, the subterranean space can also be an area where friends and family can gather together. Some might enjoy having a soundproof piano area with standout accessories or even a lounging space with comfortable stylish chairs and side tables. Alongside the pool, in the lower level of the West London house, there is the cinema and media room. The room is deliberately dark and cocoon-like, with five deep armchairs, a stepped black felt ceiling with inset ceiling lights and floor lights set into the skirting. A kitchen area at the rear allows for the preparation of light drinks and snacks making it somewhere that is enjoyed with a groups of people.
When subterranean spaces are designed and decorated well, it can transform the area into a space that is full of life and soul. Make sure to have a theme in mind and work smartly with the space you have to create your final underground goal.
Are you an interior designer or stylist that works on large design projects? You may be eligible for an Amara trade account which will give you access to exclusive discounts on all Amara products. Please visit our trade account hub to find out more and quote ‘The LuxPad’ when applying for an account.