An Airy Guest Suite & Family Room Arise Out of a Dank Basement Remodel

updated Apr 30, 2019

An Airy Guest Suite & Family Room Arise Out of a Dank Basement Remodel

updated Apr 30, 2019
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Square feet
Sq ft

Name: Suzanne Bryan and Peter Carlstrom
Location: San Francisco, California
Size: 258 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, owned

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The basement level of Suzanne and Peter’s San Francisco house is where their garage is located, but there was also a basement room when they purchased it three years ago. Well, the word “room” is a little too generous for what the space was before.

“There was a room there when we bought the house, but it had been leaked on by the shower above for many years. The ceiling had collapsed in places, the carpet was mildewed, the walls were water damaged — there really wasn’t anything to salvage,” wrote Suzanne.

The couple wanted to not only remodel this basement-level space to be useable, they wanted to keep it small so they could still use their garage for garage-y things like fitting in a “car, washer/dryer, bikes and storage, garbage bins and access to the back yard.”

After a very hands-on budget, use-what-you-can-find remodel, the tiny space is now a beautiful, airy guest suite, family TV room, sleepover space and music room. It has a minimal style somewhere between simple Scandinavian and boho comfort. Suzanne admits the style of the space is “very IKEA,” but with deliberate buys, smart hacks and a good eye, they put their own spin on IKEA purchases, turning them into custom pieces that look designer.

While Suzanne did the decorating part (she is a stylist), and Peter was responsible for most of the handy work, neighbors and family contributed their skills to help the couple build their dream space. This 250-square-foot formerly unusable “room” is now a perfect example of small space style done right (and on a budget).

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Re-use-IKEA-hack casual

Inspiration: Lack of funds; the homes’ own “good bones” and a desire to re-use and repurpose.

Favorite Element: The original beams

Biggest Challenge: Leveling the floor and soundproofing

What Friends Say: Amazing! (they know what it was before.)

Biggest Embarrassment: The huge ugly tent carport that lived in our back yard for over a year during construction. Our cat used it as his second home! In it were all of the furnishings we had saved for the space along with tools and paint. A lot of that furniture ended up being given away after. We didn’t need it once we decided on built-ins.

Proudest DIY: The whole space really. The barn door is my husband’s favorite. We are pretty proud of the utility covers in the hall too. Seemed impossible to solve attractively, to code and cheaply, but those did the trick.

Biggest Indulgence: Professional tile installation. It’s mucky, demanding work, easily screwed up. Best left to pros.

Best Advice: Trust your instincts, take your time, keep your eyes and ears open.

Dream Sources: To me this means where I’d shop if I had disposable income: Coyuchi, Big Daddy Antiques in San Francisco, Etsy, Nordic Knot, Article, Flora Grubb, Filzfelt, Millie – Lottie and any small, independent producer.


Benjamin Moore — White Dove matte walls and pearl trim and bath
Floor — Clear Pine 4×8 plywood (from Beronio Lumber, San Francisco), whitewashed and finished with bona matte finish

Tile — from our neightbor
Custom Utility Covers
Glass Door — Building Resources, San Francisco

Custom Built Sofa – using leftover couch cushions fnd Fabric from Scrap in San Francisco.
Baskets – Target
Other cushions And throw – West Elm And Ikea, 2009-2016
Chair – limited edition, IKEA 2016
Sconces – Triple Seven Home
Rug – Craigslist find from crate and barrel
Cabinets – IKEA (Literally hacked to fit around and disguise our uneven foundation.)
Linen Drapes – Target
Light-blocking liner and curtain rod –
Sliding Glass Window – Bonelli Window
Steps – A shop leftover

Folding Table – IKEA, last chance cabinet facing placed on custom base.
Stools – IKEA
Rug – Ikea

Cabinets – Custom IKEA hack to fit over and disguise foundation paired With custom walnut door fronts.
Pulls, Countertop and Faucet – IKEA
Sink – Restaurant prep sink from Craigslist
Appliances – Best Buy

Comforter – Crate And Barrel Outlet
Blanket and Sheets – Target
Pillow – Made by Suzanne with fabric from scrap
Lamps – Ikea
Runner – CB2
Drawers – IKEA last Chance

Custom Barn Door – Custom made with shelves salvaged from upstairs kitchen
Barn Door Hardware – Artisan Hardware
Shower Pan – Dreamline, Homedepot
Shower Glass Wall – Craigslist
Shower Tile – Ceramic Tile Design
Shower Curtain Rail –
Shower Curtain – Homegoods
Toilet – Duravit Stark
Vanity and Sink- IKEA Last Chance Area – Discontinued Model.
Mirror – IKEA, discontinued
Cabinet – IKEA
Tile – Friend’s leftover
Heated Floor – Ditra, Heat By Schluter
Tile/Heated Floor Install – Precision Tile, San Rafael

Thanks, Suzanne and Peter!

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