Highland Park Basement Kitchen & Theater Remodel

Revisiting a Remodel: New Life for a Basement Rec Room

We get an update from this Highland Park family that hoped a remodel could reenergize their “dead space” basement with family-focused and fun-filled spaces.

About a year into the pandemic, Peter Eckman and Erika Olson started thinking about their basement. For some time, the couple had wanted to give it an upgrade. It was their rec room, technically, but there was no recreation—or anything, really—happening down there.

“It was just dead space to us.” – Peter Eckman

A basement kitchen leak and "dead space" layout were major factors leading our clients to seek out a remodel with White Crane.

Fifteen years earlier, in a previous house, the family had hired White Crane to renovate their kitchen, and were thrilled with the result and the process.

“Susan Denk, who is the owner, had come out,” says Peter. “We started to say, ‘Well, here’s kind of what we’re thinking.’ And it was like she read our minds. She was just instantly able to articulate what we wanted before we could.”

This time around, Susan and the team at White Crane turned their deserted rec room, along with a cramped galley kitchen that was leaking water, into everyone’s favorite space: An in-home movie theater, and a bright, modern dining area.

A new lower level kitchen became an ideal place the family to entertain and eat together.

With space to enjoy game nights and move watching, Peter & Erika now have even more places to make memories with their children.

What we love

Eating as a family again

During COVID, the Eckman Olsons often found themselves sitting in front of the TV at dinner. But with the renovation, the basement kitchen went from a dead space to a living one.  Now the family often finds themselves eating meals together down there.

Some light in the dark

Previously, the basement was dark and uninviting. But with the new design, it’s bright and open and welcoming. It makes you want to come down there, which they do. “It’s become a much more functional space for us,” Peter says.

Teen-friendly spaces

The kids are also spending more time downstairs on their own. “Just last week,” says Peter, “when they were off for school conferences, my older son had a couple of his friends over and they were sitting at that table playing cards. We wouldn’t have had a space for that before.”

Family movie nights

In the home theater, where they added a riser for a second row of seating, and put speakers in the ceiling, the Eckman Olsons have watched everything from Marvel to the Mandalorian. Their new theater room turned out just like they imagined when they first saw the concept in a college friend’s home.

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