Lower-Level Lounge

An Illinois couple transforms a traditional basement into a fabulous place to entertain.

By Barbara E. Stefàno
Photography by Matthew Harrer


Christa and Dave Guilbeault’s home was roof-to-foundation traditional when mother-and-daughter design team Shirley Strom and Katie Marvin of S&K Interiors first set eyes on it last spring. And then the Glen Carbon, IL, couple proposed a lower-level redesign that was right up the designers’ alley.

“Christa loves Hollywood glamour,” says Shirley. “When they moved in, they had decorated with a more traditional look, but they entertain a lot so they wanted something different for entertaining.” So she and Katie set about designing a home bar and lounge that hearkens back to the Golden Era of Hollywood with lush fabrics, bold color and plenty of sparkle.

First on the agenda was opening up the approximately 1,500-square-foot space by removing a half-wall that closed off part of the main room. This opened up room for seating where guests could gather to watch sporting events on the big-screen TV. Next, Shirley and Katie used the turquoise from the Guilbeaults’ adjoining outdoor space as the main color for the basement walls, and bar and kitchen backsplashes, to create a unified look. It was the perfect palette for rich woods, metal, glass and fabric to mingle upon. 

“We like to push boundaries, so we work a lot with luxurious materials. We definitely laid on the glamorous nightclub factor,” Shirley says. The aesthetic shows through in the large, stuffed sofas, padded booth and plush, royal-purple ottoman where guests can get comfortable while they gaze at the wall fireplace. The two designed several custom pieces for the space, including the ottoman in the lounge area, the mirrored dining table and bar stools; cabinetry in the bar area and separate kitchen is also custom. 

Recessed lighting provides baseline illumination, but it’s the shimmering chandeliers that bring out the lavish speakeasy character of the room. Placed on a dimmer, these lights can be adjusted to further enhance the intimacy of the space. “We wanted to amp up the nightclub feel, the bling, with a lot of crystal.”

Shirley says the redesign, which was completed over a three-month period last summer, has inspired Christa and Dave to entertain more often, and it’s quite the conversation piece, too. “It surprises people. Everything else is so traditional, and then you enter this nightclub area and it’s ‘Wow!’ No one expects the glamor." 

Designer: S&K Interiors, 314-329-8407