THE CHALLENGE

Ben Barlow’s Ellicott City basement. (Leah L. Jones For The Washington Post)

Ben Barlow recently finished the basement of his Ellicott City townhouse. He would like to add seating and create a comfortable, cottage-style retreat for entertaining and watching TV. He wants to keep the paint colors, which reflect his love for the beach and ocean.

THE SOLUTION

The designer’s solution. (Illustration By Julius Goyanko For The Washington Post)

Designer Lindsay Speace creates distinct seating areas for conversation and relaxing in front of the television, and uses natural textures to impart the coastal-cottage vibe the homeowner wants.

Speace (508-237-3311, www.lindsayspeace.com) is based in the District.

Balance the corner column by placing large-scale (not shown) art and a tripod floor lamp at the other end of the room.

Create two distinct seating areas, anchored by the sofa and an area rug, to break up the space.

Upholstered poufs serve as ottomans and as additional seating that can be moved around as needed.

Three club chairs around the coffee table provide an unexpected arrangement that is perfect for casual conversation.

Round coffee tables encourage easy circulation and traffic flow.

A clean-lined Parsons desk doubles as a bar during parties, or a spot to work that still has a view of the television.

Bring in texture and visual interest with a sisal rug and a banana-leaf mirror.

SHOPPING GUIDE

Furniture: Ektorp Tullsta chairs in natural/Blekinge white ($129 each, www.ikea.com); Durham console table ($349, www.ballardesigns.com); Parsons desk with drawers in white ($399, www.westelm.com); tribal carved coffee table ($300, www.worldmarket.com).

Accessories: Diamond poufs ($179 each, www.wisteria.com); Bandolino natural mirror ($199, www.pier1.com); ivory sisal sea grass rug ($288 for 9-by-12-foot rug, www.overstock.com); Savannah ikat pillow cover ($30) and 20-inch feather insert ($18), both from www.potterybarn.com; Kashmir paisley blue pillow ($235 for 18-by-18-inch pillow, www.hollywoodathome.com); classic linen curtain panel in ivory ($125 for 108-inch panel, www.homedecorators.com).

SPLURGE . . .

(www.visualcomfortlighting.com)

(www.serenaandlilly.com)

Tripod one-light decorative floor lamp in French wax on wood ($399, www.visualcomfortlightinglights.com).

“Water 2-15” by Karen Smidth ($1,120, www.serenaandlilly.com).

. . . OR SAVE

(www.westelm.com)

(www.ballarddesigns.com)

Tripod wood floor lamp ($279, www.westelm.com).

Cote de la Mer prints I and II ($329 each for large, www.ballard designs.com).

More from Home & Garden:

Tell us about your own design challenge here

See past room makeovers by local designers here