Save My Reno: Joel and Kera’s Multifunctional Family Basement

I resonated a ton with this renovation—and with the homeowners, Joel and Kera.

Their home actually used to belong to Kera’s grandmother, so she had fond memories of playing in the basement as a kid. Similarly, I bought a home that used to belong to dear friends of my grandparent’s whom my parents were close with as well. And while renovating it was bitter-sweet, I believe that a home can evolve but memories live on forever!

As a kid, Kera loved this home, but as an adult, she had to agree with Joel that it totally didn’t work for their family of four. With two young (adorable, curly-haired) boys, and only one bathroom upstairs, they needed to take advantage of every square inch of their basement. Not to mention, the orange carpet and wood paneling wasn’t doing anyone any favors—and neither was the lack of insulation or a functioning laundry room. It was certified funky!

The plan? Well, other than totally gutting everything—grandma’s cinderblock planter, the orange shag carpet, ugly ceiling tiles, and the ramen-noodle-esque globe light to boot—the space needed to house a three-piece bathroom, living area with fireplace, dry bar, and laundry facilities. Lots of function in just shy of about 800 square feet. But I totally believe in the power of small spaces and maximizing square footage (after all, I live in a small bungalow myself), so off we went! Tall, mighty, smiley and strong, Joel and Sebastian did a doozy on this basement in no time flat. With help from Kera and I, of course 😉

Funny fact: the planter housed a few fake plants, but real, actual dirt! Authentic, sure, but totally ironic and hilarious…

For Kera, demo was a cathartic experience and one which brought out mixed emotions. Saying goodbye to the space she once grew to love as a child was tough, but I quickly distracted her with design choices—and lots of them. She admittedly had no design sense—these homeowners didn’t even have a single stitch of artwork up in their entire home—so I was happy to show her a few tips, and she was kind and gracious throughout.

The vision for the design was: family-friendly, laid-back, and livable with pops of fun. Colour-wise, we opted for durable neutrals when it came to larger investment items like the sofa, and aimed to add colour with art, decor, and paint. Everything had to be easy. Even the bathroom fixtures were chosen based on how many levers and knobs had to be pulled. We opted for a system that allowed you to present the water temperature you like and then one knob turned everything on so you didn’t have to fuss!


In all, we wanted the space to feel playful and casual. When we first met Joel and Kera, they mentioned that the only thing they liked in the space was their children’s artwork, so ding ding ding! It was so obvious that we had to implement them into the final design and celebrate them by putting them on display in a gallery wall! Kera and I sourced thrift shops for antique frames, picked up some matting and materials, and put the project together in just a few hours. In the show, she’s shaking when painting and that was totally real! She was so nervous, but she did amazing!

What I love most about the space is that it’s not precious. Everything has some whimsy to it, but it’s all grounded and balanced with modern elements. Rather than sticking to one colour or style motif, we introduced plenty of patterns, styles and colours sparingly so Joel and Kera can change things out without worrying about rules or matching. Even in the bathroom we unleashed some fun with the wall tiles, but contrasted it with a slick, white, low-profile vanity with a single-lever tap, making clean-up of the kid’s painty fingers super easy.

Everything from the sofa to the floor is unfussy. Spill on the carpet? Well, because we used FLOR tile squares, you can pop out each one foot tile individually and take it to the sink to rinse. Get dirt on the sectional? The tweedy grey fabric will hide it well! And everywhere you look, we threw in soft cushy seating options to hold plenty of family, from ottomans and poufs to side chairs and pillows.

Another feature we introduced was a gas fireplace which we flanked with floor-to-ceiling cabinetry. And no one would know it, but behind the right door, we hid some unsightly duct work. A pretty solution for hiding something not so pretty! And the cabinets? Pre-fab and super affordable!

Be sure to check out all the before and after photos and watch the full episode. And for extra behind-the-scenes content, head to our HGTV show page here and get Sebastian’s scoop here!


Get the look:

  1. Chaise Sectional
  2. Oversize pom-pom pillow and Aztec pillow
  3. Overdyed Accent Chair
  4. Wood Carved Lamp
  5. Cream Ottoman
  6. Metal Wall Decor 
  7. Textured Pouf
  8. Floral Artwork
  9. Blue-cream wool rug

Oh, and one more thing! Peep this 360 degree virtual tour:

Until next week!

x, S

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