Topaz's Basement "Burrow" Retreat

Topaz's Basement "Burrow" Retreat

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Carrie McBride
Aug 25, 2015
(Image credit: Submitted by Topaz)

Name: Topaz
Location: Downtown Wheaton, Illinois

I work as an Art Director in the Chicagoland area and about two months ago moved into a gorgeous, half-basement nook. In the style of one of my favorite authors, L.M. Montgomery, I like to name my homes. However, accurately naming a home that is partially underground turned out to be more difficult than expected. After many word searches and some rather depressing synonym discoveries, I settled on "The Burrow." While first known as a small underground home for furry friends, the second definition of this word is: "A place of retreat; refuge and rest." This is everything I want my home to be. Retreat. Refuge. Rest. For myself and for all who come through the door.

(Image credit: Submitted by Topaz)

Originally The Burrow was a one room garden studio. At some point a short hallway and a tiny bedroom were added to the back so it is now a lavish total of 3 rooms! Although technically a half basement, a full wall of windows floods natural lighting and seasonal breezes throughout the whole space making you reconsider the word "basement". And during the frigid Chicago winters? Well... heated floors are another unexpected treat.

(Image credit: Submitted by Topaz)

Unfortunately when I moved in, The Burrow was ENTIRELY green. I say "unfortunately" because I love white space. So to start things off all walls through all rooms received a bath of fresh off-white paint (Journal White, by Ralph Lauren to be precise). The just-barely-there contrast between the walls and the incredible white woodwork throughout The Burrow provided exactly the clean canvas I wanted.

(Image credit: Submitted by Topaz)

Next, the outdated track lighting in the kitchen was replaced by homemade bare Edison bulb pendants — each tied up and swinging at a slightly different height. When standing under the new lighting the main focus in the kitchen is the incredible built-in hutch with shelves now sparsely lined by white, glass, and gold dishes.

(Image credit: Submitted by Topaz)

The occasional word on a dish or shelf add hints of storytelling and crisp definitions to the space. When sitting in front of the hutch on one of the three miss-matched chairs at the dining table you can take a full sweeping view of the sitting area on the opposite side of the main room. A built-in book case and a giant wall clock invite you to settle in and dream of time standing still. Tiny succulents, old and well-read books, a jar of paint brushes, and two thrift store lamps can be found in the corners, resting on a painted side-table, or atop the stack of traveling trunks.

Rather than colored walls and lots of art pieces giving warmth, I wanted the coziness of The Burrow to come from textures. And so, a West Elm runner rug of sheepskin will walk you from the kitchen space to the sitting area where you can grab a soft down throw, hug a fur pillow, or lounge on an Anthropologie pattern. The powder room and the tiny bedroom are also explorations of white and simplicity. World Market practically took up residence in "le bain", providing fresh patterned white and cream towels now rolled and stored in a unique teal wire bin.

I've only been here a few months so there's certainly more to do to make The Burrow home, but this homemaking thing has been so much fun! It's a bit nerve-wrecking to have a living space be entirely "your fault" — your personality on display. So here's hoping that many guests find the white spaces and story-telling corners as much of a refuge and retreat as I do!

Thanks, Topaz!

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