The 1,500-square-foot lower level includes space for billiards next to the bar.
Arched, Tudor-style windows and doors lead to the wine cellar.
The wine cellar is a roomy maple-paneled space with a custom-designed tasting table and stools for entertaining.

A Well-Appointed Pub

Interior designer Samantha Friedman transforms a lackluster basement into a haven for entertaining

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2010

When a Laytonsville, Maryland, couple bought their sprawling nine-year-old home fully furnished back in 2005, it was exactly what they wanted—right down to the furniture. They left the interior virtually untouched from the ground floor up, but from the beginning they knew the cavernous, unwelcoming basement would need an overhaul. After living in the house for several years, they decided to renovate. “We wanted a space to entertain, one we could enjoy with two people or 40,” the homeowner says. Their vision encompassed a range of entertainment options as well as a lively new look.

The couple tapped interior designer Samantha Friedman for the job, which ultimately would include an audio/video area, a bar, a wine cellar and billiards. The homeowners wanted the space to remain as open as possible and the husband, who frequently travels to England for work, was attracted by the idea of creating a pub-style atmosphere in the space. “I like the friendly look and feel of a pub,” he explains. Friedman embraced the concept, creating what she terms “a modern take on an English pub,” with a color scheme and finishes that also worked with the rest of the home.

Friedman accomplished much of the transformation through the use of warmly stained maple wainscoting and deep gold-yellow walls throughout; the cream-colored Berber carpet was replaced with scratch-resistant oak floors and richly patterned area rugs. Columns are paneled in maple with drink rails to approximate the feel of a bar. Built-in, custom designed benches line the walls beside the billiard table, tucked behind marble-topped café tables that add to the pub atmosphere.

At the far end of the room, the media area offers plush reclining chairs and ottomans on wheels that can be pushed out of the way for large gatherings. Friedman installed a nook for relaxing in an already existing niche and added two more niches on either side of the 103-inch flat screen television, with more built-in seating and storage space underneath. Each niche is elegantly appointed with seat cushions and throw pillows so the wife—and various young nieces and nephews—have a place to curl up. AV equipment is concealed behind fabric-lined custom cabinetry.

Friedman converted the former laundry room, which adjoins the media area, into a climatized wine cellar. She replaced the plain, squared-off doorway and rectangular windows with Tudor-style archways to echo the English pub theme. Recycled cork floors and unfinished granite surfaces create a rustic, Old World feel.

Friedman designed a tasting table and stools so the couple can entertain in the wine cellar. According to the husband, he and his wife eat dinner in the space about once a week.

As far as the homeowners were concerned, the bar was the pivotal element in the renovation. “The clients were very specific,” Friedman recalls. “They didn’t want it to be your average basement bar area.” In fact, as the husband describes it, he wanted something authentic enough so that “if I put someone in a blindfold, took them to the bar then took the blindfold off, they’d think they were in an actual bar.”

Friedman, who used to design commercial kitchens, outfitted the space with commercial-grade bar equipment, including an authentic beer tap, roll-top cooler, cocktail station, ice chest and blender station with a sink and wine refrigerator. She used the same cork flooring and unfinished granite countertops that are installed in the wine cellar to unify the spaces.  An antique mirror lines the wall behind the bar, which also holds a flat-screen TV. “One of my favorite things is the fact that I can have the football game on at one end and something else on TV at the bar,” says the husband. “It really works out great.”

Photographer Kenneth M. Wyner is based in Takoma Park, Maryland.

INTERIOR DESIGN: Samantha Friedman, ASID, Samantha Friedman Interior Designs, LLC, Gaithersburg, Maryland.

**Out of the array of interior design magazines, Home and Design magazine stands out as a primary idea source for luxury home designs and coverage of luxury living.  Wonderful visuals of luxury getaways and dining options are combined with inspired decor to provide a fundamental reference point for bringing luxury to life in home interiors and beyond.