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Bare basements offer a wealth of possibility for homebuyers — a potential gym, office, guest suite, even a home theater — but in their unfinished state, they’re in need of some serious renovation in order to be considered livable. For first time homebuyers Mark and Mahea, who were featured in the most recent episode of HGTV’s “Married to Real Estate,” the basement was the most important part of their renovation and needed to serve as a catch-all flex space for family, friends, and themselves.
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“Having space for family is really important,” Mahea told Mark as they went to see the house for the first time. But, she shared, “I would love for us to have space to get into our own things and not be on top of each other.”
If you’re struggling to turn your unfinished basement into additional living space, take a look at the work that “Married to Real Estate” hosts Egypt Sherrod and Mike Jackson did to transform Mark and Mahea’s new house. In this project, the intrepid real estate and reno duo turned a barebones basement into a stylish, multifunctional entertaining space.
Before, the over-2,000-square-foot basement was as unfinished as you can get, with floors that were made of concrete and walls that were just wood studs and insulation. Before they could get started on any of the fun stuff, though, Egypt and Mike needed to address a more serious issue: Part of the home’s foundation had a small crack in it, which allowed rain water to leak in and could cause lots more problems down the road if not addressed.
After fixing the crack, Egypt and Mike’s team was able to get to work. They turned studs into real-deal walls by installing new drywall, and covered up the concrete floor with vinyl. They also opened up part of the back wall and installed a sliding glass door to provide an additional point of entry into the home and bring more natural sunlight into the space — always a boon when designing low-light areas like basements. Mark and Mahea shared that they liked blues and oranges, so Egypt picked out a deep blue-gray (Sherwin-Williams’ Storm Cloud) to paint most of the walls with.
From there, Egypt and Mike created an area for entertaining by carving out a bar and dining space. Plumbing already extended into part of the basement, so Egypt opted to add a sink in the bar to help clean up any messes that came with entertaining. “I love a wet bar because it adds value to the space, but also it adds function, and that’s what we’re all about,” Egypt explained to Mike. “If they’re entertaining, they don’t have to run upstairs. It’s all right there.”
Dark Shaker-style cabinets are offset by light countertops; rather than installing a tile backsplash, Egypt chose to run the countertops all the way up the back of the bar to add “drama” to the otherwise tranquil space. She also installed champagne gold hardware in the cabinets and drawers.
On the other end of the room, Egypt and Mike built in a media space where the family could watch movies together. One wall painted darker than the rest creates a focal point — a great way to help create the feeling of separate rooms in one big space. The team installed a fireplace to add some warmth and brought in a few pieces of white furniture and a wooden coffee table to help tie the TV zone in with the dining area.
It was important to Mahea to have a “space for family to play,” so Mike and Egypt used another section of the basement to add in an adult- and child-friendly playroom (called “The Bay” in an homage to Mark and Mahea’s San Francisco roots). A loft bed made by Mike creates a crash pad for the kids or any overnight guests. Finally, the team added another table that’s the perfect size for board games and a couple nostalgic arcade games, too.
“Our goal was to make it for the entire family, not just kids,” Mike said during the reveal. “So if you’re entertaining, the older folks feel like ‘oh, I can have fun in here as well.’”
“Married to Real Estate” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HGTV.