Basement:1400sqft canvas ideas?
February 8, 2014 in Design Dilemma
I just bought an 1885 Victorian in San Jose, CA. In order to get a permit to make the 4 bedrooms upstairs legal, I need a new foundation. The new foundation will result in a 1400 squarefoot daylight basement that opens onto a patio. I have no idea what to do with this space. I am looking for recommendations:

1. Leave it wide open and make one enormous play area?
2. Media room? (I am not a big movie watcher, so I don't see the value)
3. Shop area? (actually that is already decided)
4. Wine cellar - does anyone actually use these?
5. Mother-in-law? (but does that mean she will actually visit?)
6. Enormous Play Area (indoor soccer field?)

There are so many windows that it is really equivalent to adding another level.

Thanks in advance.
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Fred S
Where are the stairs going. This would depend on the floor above. Where are the windows and doors going to be located?
February 8, 2014 at 12:47am   
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Structural columns?
February 8, 2014 at 5:45am   
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We've often seen old basements converted into wine cellars. You can find more information in our cellar prep guide about what you would need to do to prepare the space:

We also offer free, custom design if you want to look into turning it into a cellar.
February 14, 2014 at 12:47pm   
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Cancork Floor Inc.
1400sf of wine cellar sounds a bit much...even for California standards. Many people turn their basements into additional living space. Pub-style or themed basement areas are great if someone feels the need to 'escape'. Either a "man-cave" or a "ma'am cave" offers a great retreat. You have enough space down there that you could do a "his-and-hers side-by-side retreats.

If you have a basement entry with plenty of light, you might find that your entire house hold will shift downstairs...if you make it beautiful enough.

Decide what it could be (for potential) and then decide how much you think you will use it. A comfortably appointed basement often becomes the hang-out spot that people have been looking for. Personally, I'm into reading...anything that has to do with books, large comfortable furniture and plenty of light (natural and "midnight oil") and I'm happy.
February 14, 2014 at 2:48pm   
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John James O'Brien - Design for Inspired Living
onobed, this is so wide open that I think you might want to engage a local or remote (!) designer to help you explore options.

Yes, people do use wine cellars (I designed on holding 998 variable sized bottles to fit a space that is roughly 5' x 8', so you are unlikely to consume much of your new area with a wine cellar!

1400 sq ft is big enough for one (even two) residential suites if the height fits code. Certainly, a self-contained in-law suite can permit either income, tax deductions or compatibly housing relatives on extended visits.

Consider lifestyle wants and needs that may currently be met outside the home (bearing in mind that everybody needs to get out sometime). For example, a gym or dance space, a craft or art studio, a squash or handball court, a sauna or steam shower, a conservatory and garden storage area. an open walled element that provides a covered, exterior space...combinations of any of the above.

Enjoy the process of developing a great concept - lucky you!
February 14, 2014 at 3:16pm     
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Genuwine Cellars
Unless you are prepared to collect quality wine meant for aging (vast majority of wine you see in stores is ready to drink and not meant to be aged) and unless you drink and entertain at a level that will have you going through cases of wine per month... don't think huge wine cellar. If you do like wine but at lesser levels then maybe just a wine cabinet or nook or display behind some glass to hold maybe 100 bottles or so.

That is a big empty canvas,you could do several things obviously.
April 7, 2014 at 7:40am   
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John James O'Brien - Design for Inspired Living
onobed, another thought is to thing ahead if you intend to age in this home. One or two suites can provide retirement income and a place for a caregiver. This this through well before jumping in.
April 7, 2014 at 7:53am   
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HI -- This is a big opportunity to add more value to your house . If your not into wine collecting ,then a wine fridge will do instead of a wine cellar room. Defiantly add a bedroom and full bathroom , this is what adds value . Put in a vent less or gas fireplace to a large family room that could also have media features . Have a storage room , that's always a bonus. Also add a kitchenette if codes allow . If the city won't let you put in a stove , then just have an induction hot plate . Also a laundry room , even if you have a laundry room up stairs . Find a good interior designer to help with the plans .
April 7, 2014 at 8:34am   
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