When Greg and Sherry Allen host family gatherings at their Riverwood Drive home, guests no longer congregate in the kitchen. That’s because the basement — once an uninviting space where no one ventured — has been transformed into a comfortable hangout more reminiscent of a studio apartment than a traditional cellar.

“Before it was fixed up, we never went down there,” Sherry says. “We always have family over, and everyone always congregated in the kitchen. No one would ever go downstairs because there wasn’t running water.”

With the help of nephew Matt Allen and his construction company, MRA Construction, the Allens, who love to entertain, completely gutted the basement, removed a wall and began anew with the goal of adding another level of usable living space to the home they bought 17 years ago. After months of planning, selecting finishes, demolition and rebuilding, the newly remodeled basement is anything but typical; in fact, it has become an enjoyable gathering place for guests and has played host to many family get-togethers, movie nights and social events.

“I just knew I wanted to do something different from the rest of my house,” Sherry says. “I went and bought my artwork first, then designed around it. I knew I wanted to do brown tones, so I picked out tiles in rich brown tones and golds. Then I built around that.”

The new basement, illuminated by 26 can lights with dimmer switches, is anchored by a large bar with a commercial-grade wooden bar top. With a commercial-grade icemaker, microwave, sink with garbage disposal and mini refrigerator, the room is fully equipped for entertaining. Rope lighting beneath the bar highlights a stone backsplash. The lower cabinets are topped with a high-definition laminate, which Matt describes as a less-expensive alternative to granite.

“The full-size bar is really big and has outlets for Crock-Pots, so when we entertain or have family over, it works really well,” Sherry says. “I can lay food out, and it is a homey environment that people can hang out in.”

Those gathered around the bar have a clear view of the sleek entertainment wall featuring a recessed television, a recessed electric remote-controlled fireplace and two custom bookshelves that are also built into the wall. While the walls were open, Matt also wired the room for Bluetooth-ready surround sound.

The Allens also thought it was important to add a full bathroom to the space. The glass-enclosed, custom-tiled shower has a stamped concrete floor, glass accent tiles and a rain head. Custom cabinetry offers ample storage, and a custom-made pocket door provides privacy. Although pops of color have been introduced into the basement through artwork, the bathroom’s bright green paint is a welcome contrast to the basement’s neutral color palette.

“The bathroom is so nice, my husband moved in and showers in there,” Sherry says. “Now the basement is a place you can live in. We turned it into a comfortable, family-friendly, usable living space.”

Although Sherry still plans to add a few finishing touches to the room, including window treatments, she says the whole family is thrilled with the outcome of the renovation.

“My daughter lives down there with her friends,” she says. “Every time someone is over, they are down there. We moved the biggest, best TV in the house down there. It isn’t a basement anymore; it is a living space. It really is a gorgeous room.” JC