This unique retro basement design does not allow the eyes to just settle in one place; instead, its ease of flow allows you to create any feeling you desire.
Story by Ann Butenas | Photography by Matt Kocourek
It has been suggested that if time is non-refundable, then it should be used with intention. Well, even though it is quite possible to lose track of time in this one-of-a-kind basement remodel design, rest assured every second spent down here is one worth experiencing. When you lose track of time, that suggests the mind is fully engaged. Care for a little experiment in that regard?
As you traverse the welcoming open steps down into the newly renovated basement in the Overland Park home of Craig Adcock and Teresa Erb, you will enjoy a pleasurable embrace of the senses in terms of sight, sound, and feeling. It may take you a while to navigate the reclaimed oak stairs, as your eyes will be glued to the colorful paintings on the wall, accented by the natural light that slips through the adjoining glass wall. Once your feet have touched the concrete floor, your initial conclusion may lure you into thinking you have fallen into a time warp of sorts, but that’s okay. With its perfect marriage of the essences of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, that is exactly the vibe the couple desired. Fair warning, however. Once you have committed your presence to this basement utopia of sorts, you may find it rather challenging to ascend back upstairs, as there is so much to tempt the eyes and touch the soul. Working alongside local and award-winning architect Wolfgang Trost and myriad of talented tradespeople, the homeowners have intentionally created a design that doesn’t just look amazing, but also functions supremely well. For now, just forget everything you think you know about basement remodels and open your mind to a new level of inspired creativity.
As a project that took nearly 10 months to complete, the homeowners had lots of ideas but primarily two main goals: to incorporate a shower and to eliminate an original pole that stood firmly in the basement holding up the ceiling, After a few hiccups, a couple of delays and a lot of sweat equity, the basement design came to fruition, and the biggest challenge the homeowners have now is they simply cannot get enough of the place!
Let’s start with the corner fireplace. We’re not going to lie. It’s an electric unit, so it’s more like a space heater than an actual fireplace, but it plays the part well. Just plug it in, feel the heat and enjoy the view. Remember! Your imagination is a key player here. Adcock had the punched steel behind the fireplace powder coated and painted and then arranged some LED lights behind it for a polka dot effect.
“We found the fireplace piece in Lawrence,” noted Adcock, explaining it originated from Seattle in the 1950s from a company called Fire King. It stands upon a story-telling pedestal, the bricks from which were acquired from the 1905 Olathe Courthouse town square and originally were black topped over and then tumbled for reuse.
Then there is the record bar area. A vinyl enthusiast and lover of music, Adcock set up this area to suggest a whisper of an old record store, arranging his treasured collection in such a way that guests can easily flip through them to find the music of their liking. Adcock formerly stored his music collection in a closet with various board games and old clothes. This new design caters to his desire to actually showcase his collections.
“I wanted things out in the open so we could use them, as I do not like storing stuff,” he noted.
Adcock has adorned the walls with posters from CD inserts and cases. To set the mood for easy listening, he installed multiple LED lights that can adjust to dim and also change color.
“This is a great area in which to listen to music and entertain,” he indicated, also giving a nod to the mid-century furniture that dots the space.
If you want to know where one of the best seats in the house is, just make your way into the incredible bathroom down here. (Yes, we know. The bar area is fantastic, but let’s get real. A well-designed bathroom always takes center stage.) If the floating mirror and Southwestern style tile don’t catch your eye, then perhaps the unique vessel sink with flow faucet will take your breath away. A bit of creatively added storage is found in the ladder leaning against the wall. The colorful walls do more than entertain your eyes, too. They also pull out to reveal the heater and HVAC system.
Now it is time to mosey on over to the bar area. If you notice a “Dali (as in Salvador) meets Van Gogh” ambiance here, please don’t waver from that initial conclusion. Yes, there is a variety of interesting colors in this area and Adcock has no shame reflex in admitting to his penchant for such flair.
“We had fun with all of this, especially with the painted wall behind the floating shelves (made from cypress logs),” noted Adcock, the artist behind the kaleidoscope effect. “One night when the basement was down to the studs, I just started painting with all of the leftover paint from our upstairs remodel. The floors and walls were not installed yet and paint was everywhere, even on the floor. My intention was to cover it up, but we decided to leave it on display.”
Fun highlights of the bar area include concrete countertops, a maple tabletop, exposed steel beams accented with multiple light bulbs, and an old riddling rack used to display the champagne bottles, which can be pushed open to reveal additional storage space for the homeowners’ extensive wine collection.
“We put the rack on a slant, as we figured the weight of the bottles might eventually cause it to bend,” explained Adcock, also giving a nod to a variety of old wine labels that adorn the edges around the exposed ceiling for an added pop of fun.
The fun with color continues with the eye-catching Herman Miller stools situated around the bar table. Another piece of interesting trivia rests in the table top. The cracks and grooves on top initially posed an aesthetic eyesore, but with a little help from some turquoise-colored play sand from a childhood terrarium, the exposed grooves were filled and delightfully brought to life! Like the bathroom counter, the bar table is made from a large slab of maple that Adcock picked up in Derby, Kansas. The other countertops in the bar area are made of concrete, and these differing elements seem to play well together.
Keep walking around and you will notice other unique details. Yes, the yellow rotary phone still works and enjoys its stage made of backlit brick glass from a 1930s building demolition in Chicago, which Adcock acquired from eBay, giving it a jukebox-like effect. Copious shadow boxes accent the area and are filled with engaging memorabilia from the homeowners’ lives.
“My favorite part of this basement is simply the way it flows,” emphasized Adcock. “The entire space is a conversation piece. Teresa and I knew that if we planned to stay in this house, then we were going to do it right.”
Of course, Adcock does have one regret with regards to the design of this basement.
“We need a clock down here,” he mused. “We always seem to lose track of time when we are down here.”
And for the record (no pun intended with reference to Adcock’s collection), this spectacular basement will more than likely have its work cut out for it in terms of entertainment duties. Erb plans to run for Kansas Senate in 2020 and will need a one-of-a-kind platform to showcase her own unique style. This must mean she is starting her political ambitions on the ground floor. No worries. This basement is clearly up to the task. (But no matter what political seat Erb may take, we still argue this basement boasts some of the best seats in the neighborhood.)
“This is definitely going to be the fun house in the community,” smiled Adcock. “To whom should we RSVP???”
Architect: Wolfgang Trost | Project Manager / Master Craftsman: Principal Builders | Audio / Visual: Gilbert Ye | Bar Table / Bathroom Counter / Record Bin / Shadow Box / Bar Shelves: Meta Goods | Concrete Counters / Shelves / Concrete Floor: Concrete Designs | Bar Sinks: Don Quixote’s Home Decor | Punched Steel: KC Steel | Bricks: KA Masonry | Custom Steel Painting: EPR | Commissioned Stairway Art: SavArt | Bathroom Tile: Shaughn Sprague