Prairie Lodge Retreat

This St. Louis-area finished basement remodeled by Crowdus Custom Homes & Remodeling consisted of concrete foundation walls with a concrete slab floor. The walls were poured at approximately 10 ft. and the entire rear wall of the home was an exposed framed walk-out. Access to the lower level from the main floor of this ranch style home was via a 90-degree turned stairs against an atrium window wall.

The scope of work for Crowdus included addressing a number of structure issues to make the space to look and feel as little as possible like a typical finished basement. This included resolving steel column, ductwork, furnace and hot water heater locations, plus the addition of windows and lighting.

The home is located in the St. Louis suburb of Wildwood that has tall rocky bluffs and a panoramic view of the Missouri River basin and forests. The natural habitat led Crowdus to a “Southwest Prairie Lodge” style design with rich earth tones and a wall of windows to better capture the view. The scope of this finished basement included a billiards area, wet bar, a home gym, home theater, powder room, finished storage space, stone fireplace, a craft room and two bedrooms, each with their own private bathroom.

Problem No. 1: Orientation of public spaces

The larger opened area of the basement was the natural location to incorporate the combination of the billiards room, family room, bar, theater and fitness room. The homeowners imagined these spaces as being separate and weren’t sure how they’d get everything they wanted out the of the space.

Crowdus’ solution was to open up the orientation of these spaces and allow furniture selection and placement to define the areas more so than walls. This allowed for space planning to surround a centralized theme with focus areas that include the fireplace, bar and theater wall.

Problem No. 2: Lack of natural light and habitat

Given the lack of natural light in the basement area and the desired lodge theme, it was imperative that Crowdus find a way to incorporate more light in the space.

To bring the outside in, a bank of windows was added to the rear wall of the billiards area, the stairs were opened up and a planting area was added under and around the stair well. The planter has water available for the plants as well as built-in drainage.

Problem No. 3: HVAC equipment location

The existing two furnaces and hot water heaters were located in the middle of the space the owners wanted to use for the two new bathrooms. The flue also would have to be relocated.

It was decided that the two existing zoned systems would be split. To gain greater flexibility and to utilize horizontal venting, both furnaces were upgraded to 90 percent plus efficiency. In addition to changing the furnaces, the ductwork serving their new location was modified. The new furnaces and hot water heaters were relocated to an unfinished area on the south end of the basement.

Problem No. 4: Focal point

With the new finished basement using more of an open concept, it was important to create a focal point for the new Prairie style lodge theme.

A 9-ft.-wide fireplace wrapped in stone became that focal point and helped to lock in the finished basement’s theme. The fireplace is screen-free in order to achieve the rustic look, so the logs were gas and a ventless technology was used.

Problem No. 5: Additional guest bedrooms

The homeowners wanted two additional bedrooms to be put in the finished basement, primarily to be used as guest bedrooms. The problem was finding a way to create and access these rooms, both with private bathrooms and walk-in closets.

Originally Crowdus had wanted the fireplace to act as a separation between the public and bedroom area. Ideally the two bedrooms would have been accessed off a single hallway. It was discovered that creating an “L” shaped bathroom/closet module provided an efficient design package that could be centrally located between the bedrooms by laying out these modules in opposing configuration. This solution was not only efficient for rough plumbing purposes, but also achieved maximum sound privacy between the two bedrooms.

Problem No. 6: Craft room space

As the open spaces became assigned, options for the craft room included an additional unfinished area or the sharing of a planned finished space for the occasional use as a craft room. The fourth bedroom would best accommodate the craft room idea with its exposure to the walk-out wall.

With only one window, two more were added to increase natural lighting to the fourth bedroom to create more openness. To allow this bedroom to double as a craft room, a Murphy bed was built in to avoid the need to move furniture around. While the mechanism was purchased for this application, the case enclosing the bed was custom designed and built, along with the adjoining desk and upper cabinets.

Final Results

The homeowners are quite pleased with their new finished basement. They say “it is like having a home within a home” and spend considerable time in their reconfigured basement. The connection of space and location of the bar and powder room provides a great space for entertaining. The billiards area, fitness room and home theater have become the gathering places for the teenaged boys.

Fast Facts About the Project:

  • Remodeler: Crowdus Custom Homes & Remodeling, St. Louis, Mo.
  • Project location: Wildwood, Mo.
  • Project sq. footage: 2,500
  • Total project cost: $287,000
  • Project scope: Take an unused basement space and turn it into a “Prairie Lodge” themed finished space with a home theater, home gym, kitchen, billiards area, powder room and two guest bedroom suites.