The Home Staging Expert® curriculum encourages keeping some walls empty to allow the eye to rest and to let the main focal points of the room do the talking. Perhaps it's just because I spend so much time looking at screens during the day, but my eyes could definitely use some rest! Although we're not preparing our home for sale, I have applied that concept here, allowing our new exposed beams to be the star of the show and keeping the remainder of the decor simple so there is nothing competing with their status as the focal point of the space. I had originally planned to bring in some Colorado landscape photographs to hang on the walls but decided to protect the simplicity and minimalism of this space instead. Having small children means that the majority of our home is chaotic and over-stuffed with toys, art projects, and unmatched socks so being able to escape to a clean, orderly space during office hours is the only way this work from home arrangement is successful!
Once we finally made the decision, designing the space was the easy part. I've wanted to incorporate beams into one of our home renovation projects for a while now. We've added little glimpses of rustic chic throughout our home with stacked stone and reclaimed wood vanities in some of our more major remodels, but until now we hadn't found the right place to bring beams into the picture.
I'm not typically a fan of basements, so when we started talking about moving our home offices to the basement, I wasn't thrilled with the idea. For one thing, we had our basement set up as a playroom for our kids at the time, so the task of transforming the kid-friendly space into a respectable office where work could happen seemed daunting. I was also pretty concerned that the basement would feel dark and that spending so much time in a "dungeon" would wear on us and diminish productivity. On the other hand, we needed a larger space, and a space that is separate from the main-living areas of the home where the kids are prone to distract us and interrupt in the middle of phone calls with clients. A change was necessary, so we decided that the early months of the year was the time to take it on before the real estate market really heats up this Spring and Summer.
I knew we needed to lighten up the space considerably to banish the cavernous basement feel. With white walls being back on trend in the design world and feeling so fresh right now it was a no-brainer to go with a clean white wall and ceiling color to liven up the space. The furniture was almost all items we already owned that needed to just move locations from other areas of the home and, since it is all in a rustic style and pretty dark in color, I wanted to find a way to tie it all together so there wasn't such a stark contrast between the room itself and everything inside it.
The solution? Beautiful, rustic exposed beams.
Now that the beams are in, it feels like they should have been there all along. The ceiling in the basement has an irregular profile featuring an approximately 8-foot wide indentation where the heights increases. While this isn't what I would have chosen had I designed the original finish, it turns out that this ceiling height transition was the perfect void to fill with some beautiful wooden beams to add visual interest and give the basement that rustic character which helps it feel connected to the rest of our home. Rather than looking like we found a solution for an awkward problem, this ceiling appears to have been designed with these beams in mind!
The clean white backdrop of freshly painted walls and ceiling gave me the freedom to go with a more complex wood pattern than I would likely have selected in a busier space. The rough-hewn texture of these beams is enhanced by a multi-layer stain process, achieving an end result that is both rugged and elegant at once. That perfect pairing of beautiful refined details with some elements that are a bit more raw is what appeals the most in spectacular mountain ski homes in the Colorado Rockies, and beams were the perfect way to bring that juxtaposition into our home office.
Obviously we weren't working with structural beams in this project, and with real solid wood beams being so prohibitively heavy, I followed the lead of many home builders in our area who are bringing in high-quality faux beams from AZ Faux Beams to achieve a rustic look without the impossible task of mounting thousand-pound solid wood beams on drywall. The first time I learned that a custom home builder had used faux beams in a beautiful room that I was admiring I was taken aback by the idea of a faux product. Since then, however, I've seen it over and over and have come to realize that faux beams are far more prevalent than structural, real-wood beams when it comes to exposed beams that we're seeing in beautiful, rustic interior designs.
The lighter weight of the faux beams makes them so much more versatile and accessible than real wood beams, without sacrificing anything on the look. If I hadn't told you, you wouldn't have guessed that these were anything other than true, reclaimed wood beams salvaged from a barn somewhere. In a nutshell, the process of making the beams starts with creating a mould of actual wood beams so that the lighter weight versions are formed with the same grain and character traits of that wood. Then they are stained with the same process as staining regular wood, so the finish is so realistic it can deceive even the most discerning eye.
The outer surface is also very hard, feeling just like a polyurethaned wood surface. I was concerned that the product would be soft and styrofoam-like making it less durable than wood. If you're considering bringing beams into your home renovation project, I'd encourage you to order some samples from AZ Faux Beams so you can see them up close and touch the surface. They really are an impressive and surprisingly realistic product. The beams you see here in our project are the Old Tuscan beams in the Mocha stain color, which is very complementary with the Jacobean stain we have on our hardwood floors on the main-level.
I always turn to our local Ace Hardware in Windsor when we have a project in need of paint. I really enjoy the unique selections they have there, as well as the knowledgable staff that can always seem to solve any paint-related problem and match any paint color, helping me prolong my facade that I'm an organized person who keeps track of that kind of thing. Without them, who knows how many mismatched shades of white we'd have throughout our house- which would drive me crazy! One of my biggest pet peeves about remodels that are done in phases is that lack of cohesiveness from room to room, where you can tell one project ended and the next one resumed later on. Luckily these guys have my back and this isn't a problem!
I also need to thank my friends at Shade Brother's Painting and Dan of 20-for-20 Handyman for help with the execution, because no matter how much I love to DIY, I always end up with too much on my plate and really appreciate the extra hands! I've used these guys on many projects now, so if you're looking for a reliable painter or handyman, I can assure you these have been thoroughly-vetted and do a great job!
By the way, here's what the room looked like before...
It made a great playroom, but that era has come to an end! Besides, the kids get the whole house, so it's only fair that the adults should get a dedicated workspace away from the chaos! We're excited for the improved functionality of our new layout and getting officially moved into our new home office!