Hurricane Sandy wrecked the basement rec room of Catherine Connor’s Baltimore home. Now that the carpet and paneling have been removed, she and her family want to make it a comfortable place to relax, watch TV and work out. (Leah L. Jones/For The Washington Post)
THE CHALLENGE

Hurricane Sandy left its soggy mark on the basement rec room of Catherine Connor’s Baltimore home. Now that the carpet and paneling have been removed, she and her family are ready to put some money into making it a comfortable place to relax, watch TV and work out.

THE SOLUTION

Designer Allie Mann takes advantage of the family’s large budget with custom built-in cabinets and shifts the focal point from the exercise machine to the fireplace.

Mann, of Case Design/Remodeling, (703-289-5719), is based in Falls Church.

Lighten the basement by painting the fireplace and cabinets a cream color, such as
Benjamin Moore’s Mascarpone.

Catherine Connor and her son Daniel Carsalade's basement was damaged from Hurricane Sandy. (Leah L. Jones/For The Washington Post)

A patterned, upholstered chair softens the look of the family’s existing leather furniture.

For something unexpected, paint the backs of the bookcases a light gray, such as Benjamin Moore’s Eternity.

Built-in cabinets create balance with the fireplace seating while concealing games and electronics.

Center the furniture around the fireplace. It makes a better focal point than the exercise machine.

A porcelain tile with a wood-grain look adds texture and warmth, and is durable and safe for a basement.

Paint the walls a light blue, such as Benjamin Moore’s Constellation.

SHOPPING GUIDE

Furniture: Decor leaf-print upholstered lounge chair ($153, www.overstock.com); Metropolitan oval coffee table in espresso ($399) and Metropolitan side table in espresso ($229), both from www.potterybarn.com.

Accessories: Arley vase ($25, www.crateandbarrel.com); Essential pillows in Spa Linen ($30 each, www.ballarddesigns.com); chenille throw in Smoke Blue ($32, www.pier1.com); teak tray with handles ($79, www.arhaus.com).

Custom work and hardware: Driftwood tile flooring in Sandwood ($6.30 per square foot, www.architecturalceramics.com); built-in custom cabinets with Country Classic doors (prices vary, www.crystalcabinets.com); Somerset handles ($12.50 each, www.topknobs.com).

SPLURGE . . .

Desert Song rug in Fawn ($1,299 for 8-by-10-foot rug, www.thecompanystore.com).

Bryce table lamp ($212, www.arhaus.com).

. . . OR SAVE

Drake natural shag rug ($594, www.cb2.com).

Clarity smoke table lamp ($100, www.crateandbarrel.com).

See past room makeovers by local designers.

Tell us about your design challenge.

Send photos, room dimensions and contact information to makeover@washpost.com .