A Lackluster Basement Will Become a Fun Hangout Space for the Whole Crew in the 2021 Real Simple Home

Get a sneak peek at the design plan.


To design each area of the 2021 Real Simple Home, we paired an editor "client" with each designer to help determine the goals and challenges within the space. For the multipurpose basement, interior designer Raili Clasen and Real Simple's features editor, Brandi Broxson, are joining forces to transform a boring basement into a multi-zoned space for entertaining, watching movies, and exercising. The finished room (as well as the entire renovated home!) won't be revealed until September 17, but in the meantime, check out their design plan and shop all the inspiration, below.

Divide and Conquer

Keep It Light

Basements can feel dark, damp, and sometimes even creepy. Light-colored upholstery in a performance fabric ensures durability while bringing in brightness. Incorporate large plants so the room doesn't feel sterile; faux is fine—and probably best for a windowless space. Pale floor tiles with a faux-wood grain will lighten up the look and withstand any moisture issues (a notorious basement hazard).

Jazz Up the Walls

A two-tone paint scheme (Valspar's Belmont Green on the bottom and Ripe Olive on top) is warm and inviting. Use album covers as a playful alternative— or addition—to traditional art. "Multipurpose spaces can be designed to feel way less serious, so make your hobbies part of your decor," Raili says.

Get Creative With Boundaries

Raili plans to place an exercise bike and other workout gear at one end of the room. She'll give that section some privacy by creating a screen from a large pegboard and mounting it on casters. Roll the screen around to expand or minimize the area, and use the pegs for flexible storage and decor.

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A Guiding Light

Nelson Ball Bubble Pendant

To help brighten up the dark basement, Clasen chose a sculptural lantern to float overhead. The white translucent shade lends an ethereal look and casts a warm glow when light filters through.

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The Perfect Paint Pair


Clasen opted for a two-tone color scheme: Belmont Green on the bottom portion of the walls, and Ripe Olive on the top, both from Valspar. By pairing two shades of the same hue, the paint combo adds interesting contrast without it appearing jarring.

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For the Record

Ahead Of The Record

Go ahead, get playful with the art in a space that's all about fun. In addition to album covers doubling as wall art, on-theme art from Minted strikes the right note.

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A Dreamy Seat

Morgan Sofa

In a room with minimal natural sunlight and many colorful details, a sleek white sofa helps lighten the space. Elevated on legs, the silhouette of the sofa also makes the room feel more open.

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Raise the Bar

Walnut Grove Gathering Island

The combination of a long island paired with bar stools creates an instant at-home bar, no built-ins or renovations necessary! When set behind a sofa, this counter also serves as a visual divider in a multi-use space.

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