Lower level renovation goes from dark to bright in Alexandria

The Rev. Patrick Hunnicutt and his wife, Sally, spent years avoiding the basement of their 1960s Alexandria home, with its dark rooms, old carpets and painted wood paneling. In the end, they decided it needed a complete makeover.

“We knew we wanted a light-filled, warm and inviting space to highlight the best features of our mid-century modern home and stand the test of time — but we had absolutely no idea how to get there,” says Sally.

This is where interior designer Laura Hildebrandt from the Vienna-based design company Interiors by LH comes in.

“We relied heavily on Laura and her vision for the space to get us to this end point,” says Sally.

Full facelift

The Hunnicutts brought in LH Interiors to help make their family home more functional and make the most of their space.

The renovation included a complete remodel of the lower level which now includes a covered porch with a rooftop deck, two bedrooms, a bathroom, a mudroom, and a reimagined living room.

“The overall theme was to honor the bones of the house, which had some nice mid-century touches, but also keep it light and bright,” says Hildebrandt. “The family is very busy, so they wanted the home to feel like they were on vacation.”

Hildebrandt worked closely with architect Felix Serrano on the plans to ensure there was plenty of natural light and the views from the family room were not blocked.

The couple’s twin daughters, who shared an upstairs bedroom, received newly remodeled rooms as part of the project.

The addition of closets and two new windows for more natural light transformed these previously dark spaces into bright, cheerful rooms for 12-year-old girls ready to enter their teenage years.

Hildebrandt finished the rooms with fun colors and accents to suit the girls’ individual personalities.

Hildebrandt also reimagined pigeons and clay. In the bathroom remodel, the designer added a double vanity. The room has large format tile from TileBar and new fixtures. The mudroom went from looking dank and dreary to an inviting place to do laundry and grab a snack from the extra refrigerator.

Before and after renovating the washing area
Mudroom before (left) and after (right) (Photo by Stylish Productions)

Create a comfortable space

In the family room, the fireplace was replaced with a custom cabinetry, hood and large TV so the family can enjoy movie nights or watch the big game.

The room got a new window lined with linen curtains that provide a coastal vibe – a nod to the vacation they desire.

Behind one of Robin Bruce’s soft gray sofas, Hildebrandt created additional seating with a bar table and stools from Universal Furniture. Two light blue swivel chairs from Rowe give the room a little touch of beach color, while Thibaut striped wallpaper adds texture and contrast against the walls painted in light French gray from Sherwin-Williams.

Conversation pieces include a collection of heirloom mid-century matchbooks that Hildebrandt displayed above the dresser — and a Salvador Dali painting inherited from the family.

The designer created a seamless transition from the lower level to the balcony using neutral porcelain tiles from Emser.

Additional underfloor heating ensures toes stay warm in the winter months.

Offering balcony

The family room opens to the covered porch through French doors, making it a wonderful continuation of the home’s interior design.

The family wanted this space to become an extension of their entertainment area. “They wanted a place where they could hang out and watch football on Sundays, or a place to eat out together where they wouldn’t be attacked by mosquitoes.”

The porch features lightweight aluminum furniture for comfortable dining and continues the color palette with walls painted in Gateway Gray and the ceiling in Swimming Blue, both by Sherwin-Williams.

Throughout the year, the family can usually be found in the living room or on the balcony.

“Having these spaces has brought our families closer together and has been instrumental in helping us get through the pandemic,” Sally says. “Depending on the season, both rooms are the primary gathering place for family and friends for movie nights, game nights, cocktails, and more.”

Sally says hiring Hildebrandt made a big difference because the renovation process involved so many decisions. “She optimized every decision we made and enabled us to maximize the value of every dollar spent to transform the space. This investment is paying off every day for our family, and we have been blown away by the transformation.”

Featured image by Stylish Productions

This story was originally published in the November issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to Northern Virginia Magazine.

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