A historical home gets needed remodeling and expansion in several steps. Article two in a short series shows how Acheson Builders reimagined the basement space for a homeowner family.

Arlington Boulevard
Historic Home Refresh
– Part 2 –

All photos by Jeff Garland, architectural photographer.

Our company, Acheson Builders, has long histories with many repeat customers in the greater Ann Arbor area, but one particular house on Arlington Blvd is worth having a close look.

Second in a series of three articles. Read Arlington Boulevard Historic Home Refresh – Part One, or Part Three.

Open-plan basement before remodeling: hodge-podge of laundry, art and play space, family tv room, office, and workout area.
BEFORE REMODELING, this basement was an “everything zone”: laundry, children’s art center, family tv room, office, workout area, all with no particular plan except “open”.

Basements are often dreary dead zones, full of forgotten items, uninviting and uninspiring, but that doesn’t have to be the case. According to HGTV ( a basement remodel improves both home’s livability and resale potential. Such was the case with the Arlington home. Acheson Builders transformed the underutilized basement into a well organized and welcoming space for work and play allowing the owners to more fully enjoy their home as well as adding to the value of their property. Some people opt to put in a fancy bar or grand screening room, but the family wanted something more practical and suitable for their young family. The basement had to be useful, organized, flexible, and kid-friendly.

Architectural elevation drawing, basement remodeling plan, 1505 arlington ann arbor by acheson builders inc.
1505 Arlington basement remodeling plans by Jim Acheson, Acheson Builders, Inc.

The kids needed an indoor playroom and the adults a place to exercise. A designated laundry area and pantry were called for with plentiful shelving and more storage options. Acheson Builders worked to address these needs with judicious planning and a smart floor plan. During the refinishing a column was eliminated and others were hidden within different partitioned spaces. This left the family room with clear sight lines and a more open feel.

The ceiling was painted white as an attractive and inexpensive finishing option that also visually enlarged and brightened the room. Carpeting replaced hard flooring for warmth and comfort. Acheson Builders was able to see the possibilities and skillfully turned a disorganized, dark basement into a useful and airy multipurpose family space that’s also fun and attractive.

Basement play area after remodeling showing two double-door large custom closets along one wall.

The kids now have their own cheerful and spacious playroom to enjoy year-around. Adjacent, there is a generous workout area roomy enough to accommodate fitness machines and exercise equipment. No matter what the weather is like, the children can still play and let their imaginations run free. And the adults can get a workout in anytime it suits them, no worries about rain or snow or gym fees.

Remodeled basement plays area wall with one of two double-door custom shelf-lined closets open, toys organized within.

Storage space is always in short supply in most homes. Here, a double door closet provides ample room for all manner of toys and games, helping to keep the area neat and free of clutter. In addition, the open plan playroom and home gym can be reconfigured in the future as a media room, home office, or used for other activities such as parties and get togethers.

Newly built pantry area in basement with custom wine rack, custom shelving.

The pantry and laundry areas are now their own separate rooms, keeping the utilitarian areas discrete from the rest of the basement. Doors keep the work spaces out of sight from guests. The new pantry is organized and outfitted with generous open shelving, making items quick to locate and retrieve. A tall wine rack keeps dozens of bottles sorted without taking up precious floor space.

Built-in open-shelf shoe and boot storage space beside utility sink, counter, and stacked washer and dryer after remodeling.

A dedicated laundry/utility room is considered a must have in housing these days. The New York Times and Better Homes and Gardens both cite a revival of interest in having a separate space for laundry and household storage. Here Acheson Builders has created a clean, convenient area for dealing with laundry that also works as a mudroom. There’s a built in storage wall with different sized cubbies to organize all those boots that might otherwise end up piled by the back door.

The basement having been sorted and done, it was time to move on to outdoor improvements. By this time, the homeowners knew that Jim Acheson’s design skills would once again be perfect for what they envisioned: new shed, garden gate, and walkway leading to the rear patio area, and back there a new pergola with an outdoor cooking island — all connected by landscaping and lighting to accentuate the beautiful back yard. Read about it in Part 3 of the Arlington house series. (If you missed Part 1 of this three-part remodeling report, you may read it here.