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Finished Basement Remodel Project Reveal

Finished Basement Remodel Project Reveal

Today I am sharing a finished basement remodel project that I started at the very beginning of this year when I was still technically on maternity leave. My clients built their home new in a southern suburb of Des Moines several years ago but left their spacious basement unfinished. Their goal was to maximize the basement’s potential by creating zones for different activities – a wet bar, a media room, a conversation area, a place to play card games and board games, and a kids’ playroom. The husband is also an avid barbecuer, so he wanted a dedicated spot to store all of his smoking and grilling supplies. The basement is rather cold during our hard Iowa winters, so a fireplace was a must-have feature.

Unfinished Basement Before

This plan shows the basement as it was before the project, and I’ve labeled the areas that we wanted to create within the space. The clients also wanted to use the space under the front stoop for a future wine cellar, and part of this project included preparing that space.

There were a few structural issues that we had to deal with, namely a header separating the grill storage area from the rest of the space as well as a soffit for the ductwork (dotted lines). Another header ran across the area for the wet bar, and it had a support column right in the middle of it. The ductwork also ran over the future wet bar, so I needed to plan for a lower ceiling height in this area.

Des Moines Finished Basement Project Jillian Lare Interior Design

This little video gives you a good idea of the basement conditions before we started the project. I labeled it so you could get a feel for each area within the bigger space.

Finished Basement Floor Plan Options

In this first option, I created a smaller galley style wet bar tucked behind the structural column. I used a wall with a see-through electrical fireplace to divide the TV watching zone from the conversation area. In every option, I  square off the angled corner to the mechanical room because it improved the flow into the wet bar and made dealing with the dropped ceiling easier.

In option 2, the fireplace only faces the conversation area, and I located the TV on the exterior wall. The bar is larger and u-shaped, incorporating the column into the corner of the bar.

In option 3, I planned for a long wall of built-ins in the TV area with a center fireplace with television above. This plan kept the space completely open. I expanded the wet bar and incorporated a larger game table.

After getting my clients’ feedback, I tweaked option three to create an asymmetrical fireplace design with the fireplace off to the left and a large area for the television with built-in drawers below and wall shelves on the right to balance the fireplace.

This drawing shows the elevation of the fireplace with the TV and built-ins. The drawers under the fireplace are actually fake, but we included them to make the base feel continuous.

Fireplace Built-ins Elevation Drawing

Basement Project In Progress

My clients hired Kurt and Larry of Remodelworks in Waukee, Iowa, to execute the project. Kurt was really wonderful to work with, and we were able to collaborate with the clients on many of the details like the cabinetry and fireplace design as the project progressed.

Material selections for the bar – backsplash tile, countertop, cabinetry, and flooring.


Checking colors for the cabinetry with the flooring and drawer front sample.

Framing in the bar.

The fireplace wall framing.

Another view of the bar.

Storage cabinet under the stairs.

The fireplace wall with cabinetry before it was tiled.

And the bar with its shiplap fronts and cabinetry but no bar top or backsplash or appliances.

Basement After Photos

home bar shiplap LVT floor dark cabinetry Benjamin Moore Gray Owl

We collaborated with Waukee CabinetWorks on the cabinetry and drawer and door fronts and painted the front of the bar and all of the job built cabinetry Sherwin Williams Black Fox. The flooring is a luxury vinyl tile in a warm gray-brown wood plank style.

home bar shiplap LVT floor dark cabinetry Benjamin Moore Gray Owl

home bar shiplap LVT floor dark cabinetry Benjamin Moore Gray Owl

The lower countertops are a marble look quartz by MSI, and the upper countertops were custom made by the client’s friend out of reclaimed walnut.

home bar Sherwin Williams Black Fox gray subway tile

The bar includes a kegerator as well as two beverage fridges, a dishwasher, microwave, and an icemaker. The backsplash tile was sourced from Tile Bar.

home bar LVT flooring Benjamin Moore Gray Owl

In the photo below, you can see the game area. Remodelworks custom built the storage cabinet under the stairs to store games and puzzles. To the left, tall deep cabinets were designed to hold all of the client’s grilling and barbecue supplies.

finished basement Des Moines Iowa LVT flooring under stair storage cabinet

The conversation area divides the game zone and bar from the TV area with a sofa, chairs, and cocktail table that my clients sourced from Article. I love the how the pop of blue and the cognac leather chairs add warmth to the otherwise neutral space.

finished basement Des Moines Iowa LVT flooring under stair storage cabinet

The fireplace and built-in media center anchors the large room on the far end. All of the walls are painted Benjamin Moore Gray Owl. We finished the fireplace in large format dark gray ceramic tile from IRIS.

finished basement Des Moines Iowa LVT flooring under stair storage cabinet

The fireplace design was loosely inspired by an image my clients had found of an asymmetrical fireplace and TV setup. The wall cabinet and bench top are painted Black Fox to coordinate with the bar cabinetry and shiplap.

asymmetrical fireplace wall tiled fireplace basement fireplace media center

dark gray tiled fireplace

A few more photos of the bar…the glass-paned door leads to the future wine cellar.

shiplap bar front sherwin williams black fox

walnut bar countertop

Love the detail on the walnut bar top.

walnut bar countertop

This project was really fun for me because the clients were so great to work with. It was a true collaboration among every involved including the clients, the contractors, and the cabinetry designers. I love how it turned out, and I know that the clients do as well.

If you live in the Des Moines Metro area and need help with the interior design of your unfinished basement, I would love to hear more about your project. You can email me at or call 515-344-3140 to set up an appointment.

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Sunday 29th of March 2020

Hi, love the bar stools - where did you get them?



Monday 30th of March 2020

Hi Dan, I am pretty sure the client ordered them from Article.

Darla Powell

Sunday 16th of September 2018

Holy cow! What a great space! Now I want a basement - but we don't have those in Miami.


Sunday 16th of September 2018

Thanks, Darla!

Sheri Bruneau

Sunday 16th of September 2018

What a wonderful transformation of this space!


Sunday 16th of September 2018

Thank you, Sheri!


Sunday 16th of September 2018

Wow! What a great project! Really nice work and problem solving!

Janet Lorusso

Saturday 15th of September 2018

That bar top is gorgeous! What a fun playroom for grownups!


Sunday 16th of September 2018

Thank you, Janet!

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