April 2010: Kids [with video!]


The fashion underground

Problem: Finding space and privacy for a maturing teen 

When Mary Casell renovated her Woolen Mills home, she bucked the advice of others by making a significant investment in the basement. Choosing to compromise on budget elsewhere, she splurged on reclaimed hardwood floors and gave the semi-subterranean level the same thoughtful fit and finish as the rest of the energy-efficient, eco-minded modern house designed by her friends, fellow Woolen Mills residents and architects Christopher Hays and Allison Ewing of Hays+Ewing Design Studio.

“Everyone told me, ‘You’ll never use that space,’ but if you want peace in the house [the kids] need to get away from you sometimes,” says Casell. 

When Casell’s two children—Casey, 15, and Will, 12—were younger, the daylit, walk-out basement served as a guest suite and a lounging area for the children. 

“When we’d have dinner parties, the kids could come down here and have fun, but they were close, so we didn’t need a babysitter,” says Casell.

As of a few months ago, the basement, which is prominent and accessible from the open wooden staircase the runs down the middle of the home from a third floor loft, now serves another important function: teen girl paradise. Casey moved from one of the three second-floor bedrooms to a much larger and more private spot down below. 

Fifteen-year-old Casey Jones has privacy in her new basement bedroom. 

The old guest bedroom now serves as her walk-in closet—an important feature for fashion-minded Casey, who has her own blog called Big Fashion, Small World. Casey’s large stash of vintage and new clothes and accessories is now much easier to organize. And it’s more visible stacked on several large, wire storage shelves from Sam’s Club that Casell topped with blocks of plywood. Even more exciting is Casey’s newfound ability to sleep late on Saturday mornings. “Upstairs I could hear my mom making coffee,” says Casey.

Younger brother, Will, also benefited from the rearrangement. He moved into Casey’s old, bigger room, and his smaller room now serves as the new guest quarters. Cassell’s basement investment is looking pretty smart now.—Katherine Ludwig

A place for pencils


Whether the homework area is in his or her bedroom or on a corner of the kitchen table, attractive desk accessories will keep your teen’s supplies orderly and motivating. Bamboo paper & pencil caddy, $30, file folder, $11.75, and desk blotter, $45, at Caspari.—K.L.