DIVINE DESIGN: Secrets of the YaYa basement space

Marie and Alex are exhausted. Not only are they busy with their demanding careers and two young children, but the couple has just lived through a long, tiresome home renovation. They redesigned most of their two-story house, but ran out of steam and ideas when it came to finishing the basement -- one of the more important rooms in their home!

You see, Marie has a very close relationship with her mother Sandra (affectionately known as "YaYa," which is Greek for grandmother), and since YaYa lives out of town, she needs a place to hang her hat when visiting the family. Marie wanted her mother to have a space to call her own that didn't make her feel like she was being banished to a cold, dark basement.

The existing room was an empty, bright blue-colored space with a builder's kitchenette and not much else. Marie asked me to add some style, warmth and ambience for YaYa, making it a stylish suite where she could relax, have a little privacy and cook up batches of her famous mousaka and other traditional delicacies.

I relied on the use of color, reflection and texture to turn this room from dim to inviting. I put down a lovely, light maple wood on the floors. I also put up textured grass cloth paper with a bit of a shimmer on most of the walls. This gives the room a cocoon-like feeling, and the paper's sparkle adds depth to the small space.

I chose a palette of neutral colors for the room: tans, beiges and creams -- all rich-toned and earthy. I then added accents in bright berry and rich chocolate brown to spice things up a bit.

To organize the basement, I divided the room into two main zones: the kitchen/eating area and the living/lounging area -- both of which lead onto a curtained-off sleeping zone for YaYa.

In the kitchen area, I whipped things into shape by adding new cabinets, including beautiful upper cabinets with metal-trimmed, frosted glass doors for a bright, modern feeling. I kept the existing sink, but replaced the old countertop with a solid piece of stainless steel laminate and added a backsplash of beautiful brown glass tiles.

To separate the kitchen from the living area, I put in a little wooden table and two light-colored chairs, a place where YaYa can have a morning coffee or late night snack.

Next, it was on to the living area, where I created a feature wall with a new electric fireplace. I put wall-to-wall mirror-backed shelves on either side of the fireplace to help give the room the illusion of space.

In this lounge zone I also put in some new furniture and accessories, including a mohair sleeper sofa, two berry-colored lounge chairs, a coffee table, a luxurious berry and beige area rug and a host of accent pillows in bold stripes and checks.

To lighten things up, I installed a feminine crystal fixture over the eating area and a variety of lamps around the space.

After adding some finishing touches -- artwork, vases and other occasional pieces -- this room was ready.

By using elegant finishes, rich colors and luxurious furniture, this once cold, unfinished basement was transformed into the perfect sanctuary for YaYa. It is now so comfy and cozy that she might just want to stay for good. Now that's divine!