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New Canaan Mom Transforms Basement into Haven

If you’ve been meaning to fix up your basement but keep putting it off, Laura Baldwin of New Canaan has some good advice. Don’t wait. “Do it before the kids go to high school,” she says. That way, the kids will have their own space for hanging out with their friends during those teenage years.

All too often basements are dark and dingy storage dumps. Laura’s was no different but she had some clear ideas about how she wanted to make over the space. Laura and her husband, Charles Wortman, are avid collector of art and artifacts from South America. Treasures collected during family vacations and when they lived in Brazil were piled on top of the pool table. The area around the TV was an unsightly clutter of game boxes, wires and teetering stacks of DVD cases.

At the top of Laura’s list of must-haves was a comfortable seating area for playing video games. She wanted a wall of built-in shelves to house the television, with cabinet storage for everything else. Next on the list was a functional workroom where she could make jewelry. Reusing some old kitchen cabinets from a previous remodel appealed to Laura’s environmental sensibilities. She had the cabinets painted, added a new counter and created a perfect design studio with plenty of room for her equipment and beads.

New cabinets and shelves on the wall opposite the TV/gaming area took care of the piles of board games and books. It was also perfect for displaying all the South American art. There was even room left over to house Charles’s wine collection.

Laura installed a mini kitchen with a refrigerator, sink and microwave so “the kids can make popcorn without coming up to the main kitchen.” She even found space for a powder room.

The new basement is bright and welcoming, with sparkling glass tiles accenting the edges of the shelves and wrapped around the lally columns (the metal poles that support your house). And the pool table is finally seeing some action now that everything has found a home.

Have you done a home improvement project? I’d love to talk to you. Email me at

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