A BUCKHEAD COUPLE CALLS IN HART & LOCK TO BEAUTIFY THEIR BASEMENT!
Buckhead residents Lauren and Zander Brekke had a classic conundrum: what to do with a raw, unused, unfinished basement space. Instead of turning it into storage or a functional kids’ play area, the couple decided to make it a show-stopping space everyone would enjoy.
“Our family was growing, and we wanted something that could act as a flex space for entertaining, home workouts, movie nights, kids’ sleepovers and out-of-town guests,” Lauren says. You could say hosting is in the couple’s DNA, as Lauren’s family is behind Mud Pie, the Stone Mountain-based gifting and decor juggernaut founded by her mother, Marcia Miller, 35 years ago. Now, Zander serves as president and Lauren as vice president of merchandise for the company, which focuses on home decor, entertaining pieces, kids’ items and women’s clothing.
After the pair moved into the home in October 2017, the basement sat empty for four years. At the time, they had one child but were thinking of another, and that catapulted a renovation to the forefront. They wanted a space for the kids to play comfortably and in style. “We’re big entertainers, so we wanted a place where family and friends could gather for special events,” she says. Also on the docket were a wet bar and wine storage, a flexible area for gym equipment and a kids’ play area The space also needed to serve a practical purpose for overnight guests, so a full bedroom and bathroom went on the must-have list.
The Brekkes called on Hart & Lock Design to bring their dream space to life over eight months. Owner and lead designer Katie Fox came highly recommended. “She had a fresh approach and brought ideas to the table that made the space slightly more modern than the rest of the house,” Lauren says, who loved Fox’s balance between casual and sophisticated.
Fox and her team provided a turn-key service with interior architecture, finishes, fixtures, furnishing and styling, working with Cory Regan at Trademark Building Co. for general contracting. “The terrace level can be a great place to extend the current aesthetic or be a bit bolder with design decisions,” Fox says. “In this project, we blended the two. We extended the beautiful aesthetic from the main level but were a bit more playful with the materials, pulling in deep [shades of] charcoal and warming it up with lots of soft, aged brass fixtures.”
Being family-friendly was a huge focus, so performance fabrics were chosen to withstand the wear and tear of kids and dogs. “We aimed for a casual, approachable yet sophisticated look, utilizing neutral tones like white, cream, gray, blue and black,” Fox says.
In the living area, for example, the custom Rowe sectional’s pinstripe fabric looks modern yet comfortable. The Vanguard ottoman brings in warmth, while the console table adds a touch of elegance and practicality for the Visual Comfort task lighting on top. Thoughtful Mud Pie accessories are dotted throughout, bringing visual interest and a piece of the family’s story to the room. In the wet bar area, custom cabinets by Greg Michael at Mi-Kin Creations hold a wine fridge, beverage fridge and plenty of storage for appliances and the accouterments needed for entertaining. Zellige tiles by Clé Tile bring a sophisticated sheen, while aged brass accents, including brass-toned pendants from Visual Comfort, brighten and elevate the space. On the perpendicular wall, arched built-ins give plenty of display room for wine.
The project wasn’t without challenges, the first being that lumber was at a premium in 2021. A second challenge was the timeline, which was twice as long as the Brekkes had expected. Fox fixated on bringing in as much natural light as possible, as well as making the narrow and long space feel larger and wider, which she achieved by positioning the bar in just the right spot, adjacent to the family/entertainment room. “This allowed more room for seating in the family room as well as visibility from the bar and a larger island,” says Fox. “We also were able to keep the wine wall in the bar for great flow.”
The couple also wanted an open floor plan to complement the rest of their house, but two structural columns in the middle of the space couldn’t be moved. “It ended up working out in our favor,” Lauren says. “We wrapped the columns in reclaimed wood, which made a nice separation between the gym/kids’ play area and the living and kitchen space.” They brought the same look to the ceiling in the living room with faux exposed beams to draw the eye through. Given the nature of Lauren’s work, she was very hands-on. “At the time, Mud Pie was expanding the home accessories side of the business. It got me excited about having a new space of my own to accessorize,” she says.
The designer and homeowners worked in tandem. “I was incredibly appreciative that Katie came to the table with new ideas and pushed me out of my comfort zone,” Lauren says. She was nervous about the board and batten in the bedroom, but she now acknowledges that it makes the room feel warm and cozy, and she’s glad she trusted Fox. She was also unsure about a black entertainment center as a main focal point of the living area. “Katie suggested black, which was completely outside my comfort zone,” Lauren says. “Now it’s my favorite part. We had general ideas about what the space would be like before partnering with Katie, but she flipped the idea on its head. She maximized the potential of our basement.”
IN THE DETAILS
Lauren Brekke shares some of the details that make the space sing.
1. Stair runner in Stanton Crescent Ticking Stripe 2/Tuxedo: “This stair runner was one of the first things Katie picked out for our project. You can see it from the open landing on the main floor, so the runner needed to match both spaces. I love the unexpected stripe and texture it brings to the stairs.”
2. Window seat storage bench in Schumacher Macro Performance Linen in Sand with Schumacher Vincent Linen Braid Trim: “The bedroom was framed for a fireplace, but we really didn’t need one, so we made it a window seat. I love window seats and the way they make every space just that little bit cozier. It was also a great storage solution to tuck away extra guest linens. The pillows are from Pom Pom at Home.”
3. Mud Pie black wood link decor “Wooden decor links are a huge trend and an inexpensive way to dress up a coffee table and show style. These links were one of my favorite Mud Pie introductions at the time, so I was so excited to style them on the coffee table.”
STORY: Lauren Finney Harden
PHOTOS: Heidi Harris
Simply Buckhead is an upscale lifestyle magazine focused on the best and brightest individuals, businesses and events in Buckhead, Brookhaven, Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and Chamblee. With a commitment to journalistic excellence, the magazine serves as the authority on who to know, what to do and where to go in the community, and its surroundings.