The Washington Post

House Calls: An upscale downstairs

Kathy Stuart’s basement. (Leah L. Jones/For The Washington Post)

Kathy Stuart of Kensington said the narrow staircase to her basement has long prevented her from giving the space a design overhaul. Stuart wants a contemporary and polished look, as well as a separate living space for her daughter, who may move in after college graduation.


Designer Ebonee Bachman picks contemporary colors and prints for the basement, and furniture with space constraints in mind. Bachman, of Moonlight Interiors (202-617-6209,, is based in Washington.

An area rug with a bright pattern helps define the living room space.

For a more subtle sleeping area, use a day bed instead of a standard bed.

A new sectional sofa with back cushions that detach will be easier to fit down the stairs.

Kathy Stuart . (Leah L. Jones/For The Washington Post)

Paint the walls, including the paneling, a light blue-gray for a clean look. Try Benjamin Moore’s Blue Springs.

A large canvas print helps camouflage the access door to a crawl space.

For a punch of color, add an accent wall behind the TV. Use Benjamin Moore’s Athenian Blue.


Furniture: Tillary two-sofa sectional in Lagoon ($1,798), Sedgwick recliner ($749), Parsons media shelf ($280) and Parsons square dining table in chocolate ($254), all from; Bornova side table in warm gray ($219,; Reflections bookcase in espresso ($399) and garden side chair in brushed aluminum ($109), both from

Accessories: Place du Tertre 48-by-72-inch canvas print ($500,; Covington Delfina rug ($509 for 8-by-11-foot rug,; woven paisley pillow ($30) and jewel-tone Suzanni pillow ($30), both from; Asymmetry floor lamp ($250,; Scribble curtain in Midnight Blue ($34 per 63-inch panel,


Ryan mirrored chest ($1,279,

Parsons daybed in white ($999,

. . . OR SAVE

Hayworth chest in silver ($600,

Astoria daybed in champagne ($489,

See past room makeovers by local designers at .

Tell us about your design challenge.

Send photos, room dimensions and contact information to

Margaret Ely is a digital editor for Lifestyle. Previously, she was an intern for the Post’s Metro section.
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