Maybe, on a subliminal level, it’s because they lived in a hotel for nine months while waiting for their home to be built. Or perhaps, the reason is more simplistic—they are a young family on the move—they like to dance, sing, exercise and entertain. Whatever the reason, Mason residents Tom and Alice decided to totally gut the lower level of their just three-year-old custom-built home and transform it into what Alice describes as “a trendy lounge in a swanky hotel.”
Relocating to suburban Cincinnati by way of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the couple fell in love with the Long Cove neighborhood and decided to build there. While the home was under construction Tom, Alice and their daughter Maddie, who was ten at the time, conducted their lives from a nearby hotel.
Once they moved in, they loved the house, the lot and the neighborhood. However, after living in the space for a few years, Alice and Tom took a look around their lower level and decided the space was lacking the elements their family needed.
The space had a walled-off home theatre and rec space that segmented the footprint and rendered the surrounding unfinished sections unusable. Alice wanted to transform the area into something that would work for her family’s active lifestyle. “What good is a lower level if you don’t use it?” she says.
I knew I wanted a space for dancing, singing and exercising,” Alice says. “Plus, a place for my daughter and her friends, or family visiting from Columbus to enjoy. Most importantly, I wanted to keep it a friendly and inviting multi-purpose space that would be easy to manage with elegant, timeless touches.”
With those thoughts in mind, Alice attended the Design Build Cincy show in the fall of 2015 where she met Tricia Spang from Evolo Design.
“As soon as she started telling me their vision,” Tricia says, “I told her, ‘You’ve got to meet Jay!’”
One of Evolo’s senior designers, Jay Takach, has extensive experience designing the interiors of luxury Las Vegas hotels through earlier work for an international architectural firm that specializes in boutique hospitality design. He immediately got behind the night-club concept and began conceptualizing a plan that was designed to use every square inch of the space.
“We started with a blank slate,” Takach says. “Alice and Tom wanted a very open modern floor plan, not a traditional rec room.”
Takach began sketching a concept that divided the space without using walls. “I chose to do that with the floor,” he says.
While the primary floor is a Canadian maple with a gray finish, the conversation area, or the “lounge” part of the space, with its custom-designed leather banquette and four comfortable club chairs, has an inset panel of carpeting.
The four-seat home theatre section has extra plush carpeting specifically encouraged by the designer to accommodate sleeping bags and slumber parties. But the star of the “floor” show is a mosaic inlaid tile runner of sorts that dissects the space and visually invites guests to the dance floor.
The elliptical pattern is found in wall sconces in the lounge area and in the barn-style sliding doors that separate the new space from a two-bedroom, full-bath wing of the lower level.
When it came time to implement Takach’s design, Alice and Tom chose Justin Doyle Homes for the task. They had seen their homes for two consecutive years at HOMEARAMA® and Alice says, “We just had a good feeling about them based on the quality, and design, as well as discussions with their sales rep, Matt Terrell.” Construction manager Aaron Hoober was “so easy to work with and instrumental,” she adds. “He brought great ideas, and thought out of the box when the project ran into challenges.”
Alice wanted a seamless look between the doors and the walls so Hoober helped design the doors to blend in. In fact, he and Takach worked closely together to keep the lines in the room as clean as possible. Takach points to the top and bottom of a wall and explains the reglet design that was used to inset the baseboard and create a shadow line that adds and elegance to the space.
Adjacent to the lounge area is a kitchenette with a sink, dishwasher, ice maker and custom built cabinetry that takes advantage of every square inch from floor to quartz countertop so that upper walls are available for open shelving to display a fully stocked bar.
Across the room diagonally is another entertainment island of sorts with a circular frosted glass bar top, another cluster of matching cabinetry, a sink, and a beverage refrigerator. Additional bar-height seating in this area serves as both a respite from the action on the dance floor and additional seating for the home theatre.
“It’s a nice landing space,” says Tom.
While the couple took ballroom dance lessons for a year, Tom admits his wife and his daughter, who takes weekly hip hop and jazz classes, are the dancers in the family.
Tucked away from all of the action, hidden behind frosted sliding glass doors that mimic the grid pattern on the wall above the banquette, is a spacious well-equipped home gym that Tom uses “at least every other day.”
His favorite place to hang out is the theatre room with its 129-inch projection screen enhanced by an 11-speaker sound system. The natural stone wall behind the screen is backlit for a bit of drama and a Control 4 system, installed by Hanson Audio Video, controls the lights, music and audio-visual elements in the overall space.
Other careful technical choices were made throughout the space, including the use of bronze mirrors on the wall with a ballet bar. Hidden behind mirrored doors is shelving that holds Karaoke and exercise equipment. The wall is less reflective than traditional silver mirrors which helps dim the brightness of the room. Carpeted sections and leather panels on the walls and leather-wrapped posts help to soften the sound.
While the project was finished early this past summer, Alice says they typically have friends over at least once a month or so. She also hosts social events, including a Long Cove neighborhood committee she chairs or book clubs, and Maddie frequently has friends over for sleepovers.
“This basement is used all of the time now,” says Tom. “It’s not just a weekend thing.”
All three members of the family are thrilled with their new lower level and insist the effort and investment to reinvent the space was worthwhile and has meant the difference between using the space rarely versus using it all the time.
Alice sums it all up when she says, “Just being here makes me want to get up and dance!”
RESOURCES Interior designer Jay Takach, senior designer, Evolo Design; Architect Matthew Evans, Arcanum Architecture; Contractor Justin Doyle Homes; Sconces Hinkley; Bar sinks and faucets Keidel; Bar countertop Cambria; Dishwasher and refrigerator Custom Distributors; Hardware Top Knobs; Wallpaper Romo; Furniture Vanguard; Hardwood flooring Mirage, JP Flooring; Rugs Rug Gallery; Cabinetry, barn doors and banquette Designed by Evolo, built by Justin Doyle Homes; Projection screen Screen Innovations Black Diamond; Control system Hanson Audio Video