The basement features a craft area, where drum pendants from Shades of Light hang above a CB2 table and bright orange chairs.
A cozy seating area combines Arhaus furniture with poufs from Surya and a whimsical painting by Kjos’s sister, Nicole Finney.
 White- and teal-painted shelves  are enlivened by wallpaper from Brewster.
A wall of shelving is a backdrop for comfy chairs from PBteen.
The mudroom area was custom built; the bench conceals storage space.
Kjos added a kitchenette with custom cabinetry, a quartz countertop and a Delta faucet.
Along with some of the millwork, the family piano was painted Sherwin Williams’ Aquaduct.

Child’s Play

Sallie Finney Kjos reimagines a drab basement as a cheerful retreat for a passel of grandchildren

A kids’ hangout should be light, bright and stimulating,” says designer Sallie Kjos, describing the vision she had for a basement redo in Fairfax, Virginia. The mandate was to create a fun, lively play area for the owner’s grandchildren (eight and counting) in a dark, windowless space. Among the structural issues: dropped acoustical-tile ceilings punctuated by extra-wide air vents and intrusive, oversized support columns that impeded flow.

Kjos dry-walled the ceiling, reduced the size and number of vents and integrated or removed the columns. Then she organized the L-shaped space into zones. Where a door opens to the backyard, a mudroom area with a built-in bench now stores toys for outdoor use; a column beside the mudroom became a wall dividing it from a convenient new kitchenette. A crafts area is bordered by a chalkboard wall. In the other leg of the L, Kjos spruced up an existing wall of shelving and created comfortable seating arrangements for conversation and TV watching. “I was designing with the thought of what kids would want in this space, to make it visually stimulating for them,” she explains.

Dingy beige walls were painted crisp white, punctuated by pops of bright teal on shelving and furniture (and even an upright piano). Since the only natural light was from the back door, Kjos says she “loaded up on recessed lights, lamps and drum shades. It was dreary and  dark and we wanted it to feel like there was lots of bright light in the space.”  A wood-look vinyl floor covering, both attractive and water-resistant, completed the project. u


Renovation & Interior Design: Sallie Finney Kjos, ASID, IDS, GreyHunt Interiors, LLC, South Riding, Virginia. Contractor: Juan Guerra, Fairfax, Virginia.