A Hillsborough Basement Renovation Creates Space for Wining, Dining, and Hanging Out

It’s a common story; faced with a bare, unfinished basement, these homeowners decided to make the most of that unused 1,500 square feet of space. According to Maria Bowers of Lebanon, NJ-based BDesign’D, they “wanted to utilize the basement for entertaining and as a place they can come and relax as a family.”

Lally columns are a necessary evil in a basement. Bowers hid as many as she could. The rest are painted white to coordinate with the décor. The staircase (at left) was opened up and now features a wood and wrought iron railing. The built-in drawers beneath the staircase were specifically requested by the homeowners in order to maximize storage space.

What kind of atmosphere did the homeowners want to create?
They really wanted to create a cozy and relaxing space – but also a place that both kids and adults would enjoy.

What challenges did you encounter during this project? How did you address them?
This basement had an abundance of lally columns (there were 16) that we had to work around. To do that we added two closets and a wine cellar, which meant we were able to reduce the number of exposed poles significantly.  We painted the remaining columns white and positioned the furniture strategically to make it look as if the visible columns are part of the design.

“As in most basements, there was limited natural light,” says designer Maria Bowers. A soft palette keeps the space – with its limited windows – light and airy.

What decorative elements contribute to the overall design concept?
We didn’t want the basement to feel like a “basement” which is why we added the vinyl flooring instead of the carpet to make it feel more open. Using a textured pattern on the vinyl flooring and painting the walls a light color allowed us to bring in natural elements like the knotty pine doors and wood shelving. I love mixing all different textures together in my designs and since the homeowners were looking for a more industrial/rustic look, I thought the knotty pine doors and wood shelves would add that aspect. With lighter color walls, the doors and the shelves pop.

The textile on the kitchen wall was a different and fun way to break up the monotony of the wall paint.  It sets the kitchen apart from the rest of the space, yet complements the colors in the design. Plus, it’s durable and easy to clean.

The wall covering on the kitchen backsplash contrasts with the neutral paint on the other walls.

The wine room window is an unusual touch; how did that factor into the project?
As a wine connoisseur, the homeowner had a specific list of what he wanted out of the wine cellar, so it was really easy to draw up the design for him.  The wine cellar is right at the bottom of the stairs as you turn into the basement; adding a window there allows not only for the guests to see directly into the room as they come down, but it also gives the entire basement a more open feel. A live wood shelf on the inside of the wine room right under the window allows guests to look into the open space while sipping on a glass of wine.

The wine room window allows tasters to look out into the basement space while sampling the wine.

“In the powder room, I wanted to bring more elegance,” says Maria Bowers “so I used a Damask printed wallpaper. It brings an added dimension to an otherwise small space. The vanity adds the perfect amount of color against the neutral backdrop.”

Do the homeowners use the renovated basement often?
Since it’s now complete with a kitchenette, game area and wine cellar, the homeowners use this space for every gathering possible!

Maria Bowers of BDesign’D




Design Resources

AJ Tykody Contractor/908-359-2030

Bassett Furniture/bassettfurniture.com

Benjamin Moore/855-724-6802/benjaminmoore.com


Bradbury & Bradbury/707-746-1900/bradbury.com



Glass Enterprises Inc./800-888-1005/geiglass.com

The Granite Professionals/908-431-5878/graniteprofessionalsnj.com

Home Depot/800-553-3199/homedepot.com


L&L Carpet/908-829-4789

M&G Kitchen Designs/908-725-9020


Washington Valley Cellars/732-469-5558/washingtonvalleycellars.com