Transforming the Cellar

Thanks to modern heating methods, it is relatively easy to utilize waste cellar space for an extra games and play room which can be made both comfortable and attractive

F. L. DEN. SCOTT September 1 1931

Transforming the Cellar

Thanks to modern heating methods, it is relatively easy to utilize waste cellar space for an extra games and play room which can be made both comfortable and attractive

F. L. DEN. SCOTT September 1 1931

Transforming the Cellar

Thanks to modern heating methods, it is relatively easy to utilize waste cellar space for an extra games and play room which can be made both comfortable and attractive


ALTHOUGH in the average home there has always been a need for more space, it is only recently that the cellar has been pressed into service to fill such a need. Thanks to modern methods of heating, it is easy to convert the cellar into various kinds of rooms, the most popular of which is the games room or the so-called "good times” room.

If a cellar is dry and has a finished floor—any sort of finish—it is comparatively easy to transform it. Since the basic requirements of the cellar include the laundry, furnace space, coal bins in some cases and storage space, plenty of room is left for a recreation room. If there are no partitions, wall board can be used to divide the cellar into compartments. This wall board, by the way, is fairly light and easy to handle. Dealers will have it cut into the required size and will cut out the openings for doors. Wall board takes paint well and is most satisfactory.

The foundation walls may be whitewashed or washed with water paint in any desired color.

After the floor space has been allotted to the different rooms, the first consideration is floor treatment. Dry concrete floors may be covered with linoleum or tile, or may be painted to resemble flagstones. This effect is obtained by painting a design of wide mortar joints over the floor in a blue-black color, then painting in the areas between in a realistic color. There are special paints for concrete which are handled by all dealers, with special directions for use. On the cellar floor, three coats of varnish over the paint will greatly prolong the life and looks of the floor finish. The floor treated this way is washable.

If the cellar is being used for a play room for small children, or if it is cold, by all means consider the laying of a wooden or composition floor. If composition is used, it should be warm enough to prevent the cold of the con-

crete penetrating through. Composition floors are not prohibitive in cost and they may be finished in any color, then varnished. If waxed, the floor is excellent for dancing.

Color Is Important

V\ 7"ALL treatments determine the character of basement x ’ rooms. Color and finish on the wall transform the dingiest cellars into beauty spots. Where the foundation wall is rough and likely to injure children if they fall against it, this should be remedied by plastering it or covering with wall board. In some cellars, the walls seem to be always damp. Waterproof dressing will remedy such a condition, and if there is dampness only after rains, waterproof paint will check it.

Cellar walls are generally treated with plastic paint, on which curious effects may be worked out while the surface is still wet. Scrolls and designs of all sorts can be drawn with sticks or made with paint brushes. Some of these designs, made up on the spur of the moment, are very amusing.

In addition to plastic paints, there are water paints which are easily applied by amateurs. These are obtainable in almost all colors and shades, but if unusual effects are desired two or more tints may be blended. This sort of thing is most interesting to families where there are young people.

Another finish for cellar walls is a glaze made by mixing one part linseed oil with three parts of turpentine with color to suit. Paint stores supply powders for such use.

Light walls reflect light from all sources, whether from cellar windows—usually all too meagre —or from electricity. The sunlight shades, yellow and apricot, or the paler shades of flame are excellent in cellars Flat white walls are not only monotonous but very harsh in effect and give a ghostly feeling. Heavy tints make a dim room seem cavernous.

More light, artificial since natural daylight is practically impossible, is the greatest need of the average cellar. This may be accomplished by having more outlets for electricity or. if expense is a consideration, various lights may be added by extending cord from one socket. If the cord is carried around the wall space and kept out of the way of people’s feet, such a plan is entirely practicable. In houses which are not wired for electricity, the solution is simply more lamps which, being portable.may be placed where they are needed.

Color is an additional means of securing more light, and the furnishings, if wisely chosen, will do much to offset any feeling of sombreness which may prevail. The simplest kind of furniture is

appropriate because of the character of the construction. The ordinary kitchen chair, the inexpensive card table, wicker porch chairs and stools, home-made benches and tables are all in keeping. These articles may be finished in the desired color with inside house paint or enamel, or, best of all perhaps, quick drying lacquer. If the furniture is made from natural wood, “raw wood," a priming coat must be given before the permanent color is applied. Ordinary shellac is the best thing for this primary coat and very easily applied. Finished pieces do not need this.

Most interesting color schemes can be worked out here, for informal treatment is the spice of life to the cellar. There are no rules and regulations; let your imagination be your guide. One attractive cellar had yellow walls and turquoise furniture, with cushion and ornaments showing a bit of orange. Another had pale salmon pink walls, furniture painted a deeper tone—the tone was achieved by mixing white with Chinese red—-and the accessories were in willow green. In this one, cushions were made of oilcloth, and the summer porch rug in buff with green border was used on the floor.

No Rules For Decorations

C'ARNAMENTS add enormously to the success of the cellar. Quaint jars, lamps made of old jugs, painted flower pots may be seen in cellars. Bridge lamps are very good as they give good light and may be moved from place to place as required. Hanging pots of ivy, witch balls and hanging wall pockets in which are natural or artificial flowers, make the cellar cheery.

The cellar may be furnished for some particular type of recreation, such as billiard room, nursery play room, gymnasium, general good times room, or it may be furnished for general use as an extra living room. In the latter case, such pieces of furniture as the house naturally outgrows will be found useful. The old piano, on which the children may do their practising, the metal day-bed or cot, the wicker settee which was relegated from porch use, the old battery radio set may all find a place here. With a card table and folding chairs, the room is well furnished for casual use and often becomes a haven of rest. Old-fashioned overstuffed chesterfields and chairs may be improved with home-made slip-covers; pingpong tables can be supplied; backgammon tables are becoming popular.

If there is a large family of comparatively small children, the nursery play room may be made here. A real sand pile, boxes of modelling clay and boxes of water colors,

small kitchens and the paraphernalia of dolls’ houses fit into the scheme here. What a sigh of relief the anxious mother draws to know that the children have a safe place to play ! Such treatment costs very little.

In the family where there are young people of high school and college age, by all means have the cellar available for hilarious parties of the bam dance variety. The furnishings should be portable and the floor space easily cleared. The walls may be adorned with bizarre figures and the color scheme may be more daring than in rooms where the family spends a great deal of time.

Before beginning to reclaim the cellar, a floor plan should be made. Draw to scale and indicate the peculiarities: where the windows are. and the depth, angles and nooks, stairways, amount of floor space absorbed by laundry and furnace, gas and electric meters. Then examine the place critically and make a note of possible difficulties and advantages: ! “ceiling unfinished and in poor condition." or "oil furnace finished so well that can be painted same color as walls and will be less conspicuous."

The floor, walls and ceiling should be treated first. Wall board can be tacked to the beams of the ceiling and then painted. Stencilled borders may be added to the floor and wall decoration, or artistic members of the family may be delighted to decorate the wall with murals. Or, if the walls are for any reason quite impossible, build shelves all round. Paint them and use them for books or pottery or to hold toys or balls or games.

Since very little can be done to disguise or embellish meters, the best way to treat them is by building cupboards round them, thus adding more storage space or more open shelves.

Where oil furnaces are replacing the coal ones, there is always a coal bin left. The bins may be cleaned thoroughly—not so formidable a task as it sounds—and become dolls’ houses or workshops for amateur carpenters or territory for electric trains.

If the cellar Is to be used for some specific purpose, some particular sport, there are many interesting games to be purchased. There is a new and inexpensive folding billiard table, amateur golf courses in miniature, gymnasium devices including the popular trapeze, drawing briards and many other things.

We have spoken here only of the uses to which the cellar in an old house may be put. If, when houses are being built, the owners would consult architects about this hitherto waste space and actually plan to utilize cellar space, there is no end to the delightful possibilities without extra cost.