Lancaster PA Remodeling Tips & Tricks

October 8, 2010

Women don’t want a ‘cave’ downstairs… they want a ‘subterranean sanctuary’!

Yea, we’ve all heard about the ultimate ‘man cave’ finished basement. You know, the place where a man can drink beer and talk sports with his buddies on Sunday’s.

But what about the ladies? They make up a large portion of homeowners and in most cases are the ones initiating remodeling projects in their homes. So, I wondered, what would their dream basement renovation consist of? I figured I’d go right to the source, so via LinkedIn I asked some Central PA women this very question. What did I learn?

First off, they don’t want anything resembling a ‘cave’. “Women don’t want a cave – we want a retreat for relaxation or a fun space to socialize with family/friends”, says Deanna Fox of The Fox Groupe. Barbara Tabak of Decorating Den Interiors puts it simply “(Women) want a sanctuary to retreat to at the end of a hectic day.”

The recurring theme for all of the women was relaxation. When I asked for a better name than ‘women cave’ (hey, it sounded clever at the time…), words that came up were sanctuary, haven, retreat… words implying peace and quiet more than the place an animal lives. Alicia Miller of Rock Commercial Real Estate puts it perfectly: “we want a place to get away from all the everyday busyness of life and just be ourselves.”

Now, I did ask these ladies to consider their perfect basement without size or budget restraints. Lutricia Zerfing of Roundtop Mountain Resort said her perfect basement “would consist of a wet bar, sectional couch, large screen TV, universal gym, a large desk with ample storage to work on my hobbies and a sewing machine!” Of course your project must take into consideration the size of your basement and your budget. They all do… yes, even the highest-end projects, but don’t let these discourage you. By getting creative with your space and décor, you can save yourself money.

Usually you have space for at least a few different areas downstairs. These do not necessarily have to be different rooms either. While you could always put a wall in, you could also consider a divider of sorts that is only a few feet high. Maybe a small wet bar behind a countertop and cabinets? A half wall is another option. Not only will it give you some separation, it will also be a nice place for plants, pictures or a lamp. You can also save money by painting yourself. Work with your contractor on similar ideas to maximize your budget and your space.

Arts and crafts and other hobbies such as painting and sewing can be considered in one section of the basement. A place for exercise is always a great option as well. The finished basement is perfect for the yoga mat, treadmill and exercise ball. The hottest trend we are seeing? Many women (and men) here in Lancaster County, PA transform their basement into a home office. With wi-fi internet and some good lighting, you could cut your commute to a flight of stairs.

As Catherine Lockley of oz 2 designs LLC said: “I would have space and designated areas to practice oil painting, kickboxing, video gaming, crafting and sewing. At the end of a free day there would be scuffs and paint on the floor.” I loved the responses I got from all of the women I talked to. Fun was at the forefront of the conversation. Deena Malley, of DCM, told me her basement “would have hardwood or laminate floors with mirrors on one wall – to accommodate a sudden Flashdance urge or for an 80s dance off :)”. And remember; this is a team project – both you and your remodeling contractor should be ready and willing to have some fun!

Design & Décor
With that, why don’t we talk about the really fun part of this process?! Yep, I’m talking DESIGN & DÉCOR. JP Shaw of the Central Penn Business Journal says it better than I ever could; “My subterranean sanctuary would be really pretty – a place where I don’t have to compromise design with my husband. I would use vibrant colors, really modern design, lots of fluffy pillows, lamps with crystal lampshades and tons of texture in the room (textured paintable wallpaper, sisal rug, velvet couch, shaggy pillows, metal and glass artistic coffee table).” Now that’s a vision! A lot of lamps will help provide a warmer atmosphere than those overhead bulbs or fluorescent lights. Large pillows and comfy sofas will increase the relaxation and joy for you, your family and your guests. The textures, well they speak for themselves. A few ladies mentioned mirrors as well. These will really help open the room up, which is especially helpful when your space is limited.

As for vibrant colors, they are often a good choice in a room with little natural light. If you want to go warmer with the paint, consider darker shades. Benjamin Moore Paints says different shades in the red, orange and yellow families can be considered warm (darker) or vibrant (brighter). I always recommend that our clients put together a ‘project idea folder’ where they can brainstorm ideas for colors, design, function and everything else. Buy some home décor magazines or search online for pictures to get ideas that shout out “I am the beautiful adornment of your utopian paradise!” And don’t forget – HAVE SOME FUN!

As with any home renovation project, find an experienced remodeler you feel comfortable working with. Basement remodeling is a team sport, and when you and your contractor approach it that way you will be overwhelmed at the transformation taking place in your cold, informal storage floor!

Whatever you call your ‘subterranean sanctuary’ in Lancaster County, PA, please keep MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC in mind when it’s time to remodel your basement.

Thank you,

Matt Blank

December 10, 2009

Turn Your Basement into the Ultimate Man Cave

Filed under: Basement Remodeling & Renovation — Tags: , , , — MBCremodeling @ 9:30 pm

By Mike Blank, CGR CAPS
MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC

More than half of home buyers say they want a finished basement, according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders. Real estate experts agree that adding square footage to your living space will deliver the dollars when it comes time to sell. Create the sanctuary of your dreams and enhance your home value at the same time by renovating your basement into the ultimate guy retreat. Here are the top 10 things you’ll need to turn your basement into the ultimate man cave:

1. Finish it: First, finish those cinderblock walls and concrete floor.
2. Get wired: You have to have a big screen TV and music. Getting wired can be as easy as connecting cable to your portable TV and strategically placing a boom box, or as grand as a wall-mounted, high-def, flat screen TV with surround sound.
3. Go wireless: A laptop or desktop is a man-cave must for work and play. But you don’t want wires cluttering up your kingdom. If you haven’t already done so, install wireless connectivity on the primary computer on the main floor of the house. That way, you can use the Internet in the basement without the expense and inconvenience of a lot of wires.
4. Get “guy” with the décor: Nothing says “This space belongs to a guy” like sports décor. Frame and hang your old high school or college jersey. Mount that foul ball you caught in the bottom of the ninth. Put up a wallpaper mural of your favorite sport.
5. Drink up: A wet bar is every guy’s dream, but you can also cool off effectively and economically with a small refrigerator or even a portable wine keeper.
6. Snack attack: The guys are going to work up appetites playing friendly poker and it could get ugly if you don’t have any snacks on hand. Be sure to include space for snack storage in your design, whether it’s a pantry or some cabinets.
7. Sit on it: You’ll need the armchair of your dreams in order to be an armchair warrior. Make sure there’s some comfy, durable seating for your buddies.
8. Work it out: Portable treadmills and exercise bikes are better than ever and easy to store. Set aside a corner of your man room for the manliest activity of all – exercise.
9. Work on it: If you’re a doer rather than an observer, you’ll want a well-equipped workbench.
10. Sit on it: It’s the ultimate man room upgrade – your own private bath.

Mike Blank, CGR CAPS is the owner of MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC based in Lancaster County, PA. With over 30 years of Remodeling experience, Mike is past Chairman of the Lancaster BIA Remodelers’ Council and a multiple BIA Design Winner. You can contact him at (717) 371.5136 or

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