Welcome to the Speakeasy Werkroom for our One Room Challenge Spring 2021 makeover. As you know by now, we were selected amongst 20 featured designers to take on a challenge in 8 brutal weeks to transform a space. Its finally time to show you what we have been working on so hard on, and while we’re a little bit nervous, we’re also very, very excited to show you this transformation! Over the past 8 weeks we have been transforming our basement from a dusty, unfinished, storage area to an entire new floor of living and work space. We needed a place to work (hence, “The Werkroom”, spread out material samples and sketches, host clients, and just an area to relax. We’re excited to say that the space is finished and we can’t wait to show you!
Before we get started on each gorgeous area of the speakeasy, take a look back at the transformation of the space. We’re shocked that the space has transformed into what it is:
Since we were transforming our windowless basement we decided to create a speakeasy feel. The details would make for a warm and cozy space that might have no windows but doesn’t need them. To make sure we didn’t miss them too much we did bring in the illusion of windows with some antique stained glass and some vintage industrial windows that offer a glimpse into a second top secret space (more on that below!). One of the most important things to us was to have ample storage to organize our growing material samples collection and, of course, we needed a big table to spread them all out on. We also wanted to feel inspired to design and create in the space. So how did we do? Let’s start the tour!
As soon as you get to the basement door you know you’re in for a treat. The vintage door with chicken wire glass is a salvage item. We have 4 of them throughout the space. We installed the name “The Werkroom” in a vintage inspired decal from House Number Lab on the glass. As you open the door you are greeted with another vintage find from eBay, a small wall sconce that lights the stairway just enough to guide your way into the space. As you walk down the stairs you can catch glimpses of what you’re in store for through the new wood slats that double as hand holds.
At the foot of the stairs we created a small sitting area where we can relax when we need a break to find some inspiration. There is a leather chair and magazine holder from Apt 2B to encourage lingering. A small side table and jute rug were eBay finds. The entire area is lit with one of our favorite light fixtures in the space, the bi-focal light from NYC based Blueprint Lighting – USE CODE: BrownstoneBoys25 for 25% off your order too! It comes in an amazing 36 colors, we went with Paris green. As a backdrop to this area and extending into the workspace is an ode to Brooklyn, an entire wall covered in a vintage Brooklyn map wallpaper from Spoonflower.
Moving on from the sitting area you will see one of the most transformative parts of the project. We turned the old structural columns into dramatic arches that define the workspace. The soft curves of the arches create a warm, cozy quality that a squared edge would lack. They are each lit with a sconce that evokes the elegance of antique candle holders from Alora Lighting.
On the opposite wall is one of the most prominent features in the room, and definitely the most useful, an entire wall of cabinetry built by Ethan Abramson of The Build With Ethan. It is designed to have an apothecary feel with a marble top and backset uppers with reeded glass. The curve detail on the cabinet fronts echo the soft curves of the arches and adds an elegance you might find in an urban speakeasy.
One of the things we are looking forward to the most is working at the beautifully built, long oak table from Self Made. It came easily packed to fit in our car and was quick to assemble. The leather and metal work light above from Alora Lighting illuminates the work space perfectly. To warm up this area we put the most beautiful rug under table from Loloi Rugs. Of course, we went with the area rug from the Chris Loves Julia collection! It really is the perfect color for the space between the white of the arches and the green of the cabinetry.
The cabinetry flanks both sides of the centerpiece of the room, a salvaged antique stained glass window that is backlit to bring some drama and interesting lighting to the room. We really love the glow of the soft light that filters through the vintage glass and the color that it casts into the space.
The stained glass window is mounted in another organic texture we brought into the space, rich walnut stained wood slats. They continue to the far side of the cabinetry and around a gentle curving wall that functionally hides our basement mechanicals, but is a feature on it’s own. The curved wall opens up the space in a way that a 90 degree angle would have chopped up. The transition from the work space to a hallway is blurred in a way that extends the space and draws the eye. It’s from here you can get a peek through 2 salvaged industrial windows that tilt open just enough to make you think: “What in the world is going on back there?!”
Another huge transformation of the space is the new tin ceiling from American Tin Ceilings. We went with a classic New York feeling (Pattern #2) in Bright White Satin, with a satin sheen.The easy-to-install paneling has brighten up the space and has provided an illusion of the ceilings looking taller than they are. We had so much fun installing these!
One of our secret weapons to put this space together to find the right pieces on a short timeline was eBay. Throughout the basement there are vintage accessories, chairs, cabinet hardware, and even the recessed lights were all sourced on eBay. It’s one of our favorite places to find interesting items and shop local here and across the country.
Now it’s time for a secret space that’s been teasing itself throughout the room. A speakeasy within a speakeasy, if you will. It’s been there all along but she’s got a whole new look. Our laundry room has been reborn into a RuPaul’s Drag Race inspired space. Bright pops of pink-on-pink, a splash of purple, a little sparkle, but a space that is utilitarian by use. Why not make our laundry experience something to look forward to? Before we transformed this room, in our messy, dusty storage space of a basement, we were drawn to a brightly painted pink door. It was here before we were, always there inspiring us to create something more. We knew it needed to come down, but we wanted to transform it into something constructive. It has found a new home, still the same shade of pale pink, but now as a useful laundry folding table. The brightest addition to the room (and most fabulous) is the custom neon “Werk” sign from our new friends at Custom Neon. We had the best time designing our light but wanted to tie in the Werk motif throughout the speakeasy.
It’s hard to imagine that the space we sit in now was, only weeks ago, your average (below average?) Brooklyn basement. Used only for storage, upturned dead bugs, a layer of dust covering everything, an unrealized potential of a space. We couldn’t be more thrilled with the outcome, and we cannot wait to fully realize the usefulness of an entire new floor of living and work space. We hope you enjoyed the journey as much as we did. Subscribe before for updates (lots of amazing things coming!) and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and YouTube! We’ll have a basement tour coming this weekend with all the before and afters of the space so make sure to subscribe for an alert!
Thank you to ALL the sponsors who believed in us and this space. We’re so excited to start sharing more of each incredible item, piece and feature we brought into the speakeasy over the next couple weeks. And to Linda Weinstein (creator of The One Room Challenge) & Better Homes & Gardens– we are forever grateful and so appreciative of this journey & opportunity. This was the push we needed to complete our basement and we really would have an unfinished basement if it weren’t for you so THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts. This was so fun!
Now that we are done with our space, it’s time for a much deserved glass of wine (or whiskey on the rocks). It’s also time for us to check out the other 19 amazing features designed completed rooms! Join us!
If you want to see more check out our full video tour!