The Shalabi family’s basement. (Leah L. Jones/For The Washington Post)

Reem and Aiman Shalabi had the basement of their Bethesda home finished but haven’t found time to decorate. They want to upgrade from their bachelor-pad furniture and create a cozy retreat where they can relax with their three boys.


The solution. (Illustration by Julius Goyanko)

Designer Lauren Brown uses rustic materials and warm colors to create multiple seating areas and accommodate the needs of the whole family.Brown, of Samantha Friedman Interior Designs (301-529-1900, ), is based in Gaithersburg.

[Tell us about your design challenge]

Warm up the space with soft gray paint, such as Benjamin Moore’s Hot Springs Stones.

Brighten the room by painting the fireplace brick a glossy white, such as Benjamin Moore’s Elmira White.

Metal accents contrast with the soft upholstery in the room to give it a rustic, industrial look.

Large area rugs over the existing hardwoods frame the seating areas and make the space feel cozy.

Choose furniture that can serve multiple purposes. This coffee table can also be a dining or game table when needed.

Float large furniture in the middle of the room to make it feel inviting and allow for better circulation.

Avoid bulky, tall furniture in rooms with low ceilings. Opt for storage with a low profile instead.


Furniture: York roll arm slipcovered sofa in Oatmeal linen blend ($1,999) and Irving leather armchair in Coffee ($899), both from; sandblasted marble coffee table ($869,; Couturier’s chair in Sand ($395,; Cranfill round cocktail table in aged pine ($600,; Remy ceramic side table in navy blue ($149,

Accessories: Ava rug in blue ($639 for 8-by-10-foot rug,; Kenmare ikat embroidered pillow cover in blue ($70), Bosworth printed rug in blue ( $999 for 8-by-10-foot rug) and Gibson tripod floor lamp ($469), all from; salvaged honeycomb Ponderosa pine shelving ($169 for six-foot-long shelf) and large strap shelf brackets in oil-rubbed bronze ($149) from; Shelton pillow ($50), antiqued brass fireplace screen ($199) and log holder ($129), all from; shuttle weave striped rug pillow cover in bold ($59,; Isla Geo print wall art ($159,; Smyth three-light semi-flush-mount in gunmetal bronze ($240,; iron toy barrel ($40,


(Restoration Hardware)


Printmaker’s 95-inch console in espresso pine ($1,495,

Mid-century table ($399,

. . . OR SAVE

(Birch Lane)


Rosemont console table ($869,

Fabrice end table ($177,

More from Home & Garden:

See past room makeovers by local designers here.