Many of the houses we looked at in Amsterdam had some kind of storage room available. Sometimes it was a detached room on a completely different floor in the building. Once it was an attic room, weirdly accessible through an illegally built ladder right next to the fireplace in the living room.
The house we ended up picking was much more normal (not). A nine square metre (100 square feet) storage room lay just under the living room, accessible (as you’ll remember) literally through a hole in the middle of the floor.
Thanks to my brilliantly designed wall and a matching bannister, it no longer looks like somewhere you’d hide a body and then put a rug on top of the trap door. It’s almost like stairs into a normal lower floor, right? Humour me and say yes.
The owners told us that the basement had previously been awesomely used by their tenant’s band. Which I love almost as much as the fact that my house has also previously been a bakery and then an antique shop.
When we arrived, though, it looked like this:
Your typical unfinished basement. Cement walls and floors, chilly even in the daytime, a musty smell, and lots of weird little angles. We immediately christened it the Dungeon.
Now, some of you may cry foul when you hear that in our each-person-gets-to-decorate-a-room agreement, the Dungeon was Tony’s. I’ll admit that he is rather prone to spoiling me. But he actually claimed the basement as his own. He had a vision, you might say. And no, it did not involve a garage band.
Here’s the Dungeon now:
One of the primary functions of the room is as a game room. You can see Tony’s board game collection in the wall-mounted cabinet.
The large red canvas hanging above the couch is an IKEA table top with a piece of fabric wrapped around it that Tony picked up on our trip to Vienna last year, and then a vinyl tablecloth over that. It can be taken down off the wall, placed over a couple of stools, and serve as a tabletop for Euro games.
The couch is a sofa bed upon which visitors to our tiny abode can sleep.
Tony uses the Dungeon as a home gym, and you’ll see his pull-up bar hanging on the ceiling if you look closely in the first photo. You can also see that he’s taken advantage of showing off the lovely exposed beams by painting them dark blue to match the stairs, and the ceiling white to offset the colour and bring some more light into what is, of course, a basement.
Opposite the couch is our television, upon which you can see the kids are currently catching up on Eurovision in preparation for the final tonight.
Do you love the pretty coloured lamps that make patterns on the wall? (I guess this has become something of a fetish.) They’re actually table lamps that Tony hung upside down from the ceiling.
You also may not have noticed the Dungeon’s state-of-the-art built-in sound system.
Since this room functions as a sort of cozy den/family room, we’ve put some of our more sentimental objects down here. For example, the miniatures Tony painted as a kid,
And some mosaic and clay artwork done by our kids in bygone days.
We did, as I mentioned in the beginning, appropriate what is pretty much the only storage place in our house to make this room (and increased the square footage pretty dramatically, from 62 to 72 square metres). The bank even rolled the cost of the wall upstairs and the basement renovation into our loan because of how much it increased the value of the house. And then Tony did a considerable amount of the work himself, so we spent a fair bit of it on IKEA furniture. But we did need somewhere to use as storage. That somewhere is under the stairs. Normally it looks like this:
But if you pull the curtain aside, our secret is revealed.
And that’s our Dungeon! Not so scary anymore. Come visit us sometime for an evening watching Doctor Who or playing Settlers of Catan!