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.
”I was designing with the thought of what kids would want in this space, to make it visually stimulating for them.” —Sally Kjos
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. Photography: Stacy Zarin Goldberg.