Heather Mogo loathed spending time in the “creepy old basement” of her family’s Kenwood home. She would venture down there to do laundry, but that was about it.
She and husband Frank Moga bought the turreted 1890s house near Lake of the Isles a dozen years before turning their attention to the basement. The Mogas Loon Architects had worked with Chris McGuire, production director of Vujovich Design Build in Minneapolis, on several remodeling projects before turning their attention to the basement. They trusted him to turn it into a more useful and welcoming space.
The parents of Ben, age 10, and Luke,6, also wanted to give their boys somewhere to burn off some energy. So they divided the basement lengthwise into two sections, one for an indoor hockey rink and the other for a family room.
They outfitted the 36-by-11-foot rink with HockeyShot Extreme Glide Synthetic Ice, a flooring material on which the boys could play in skates or stocking feet.They also installed rein- forced maple walls that would look good and withstand the impact of flying pucks and crashing kids. Maple panels cover the ceiling over the rink as well, hiding the mechanicals while offering easy access to them.
On one end of the rink, Frank Moga suspended a vinyl hockey shooting tarp with holes cut out at varying heights to catch pucks and drop them into a pocket for easy retrieval. A regulation-size net stands at the other end. The openings to the family room, near either end of the rink, have floor-to-ceiling netting that can be pulled across to keep the pucks on the “ice.”
When they tire of hockey, the boys can ride their bikes in the oval created by the wall between the rink and family room. When they’re really spent, they settle into comfortable seating and play videogames or watch movies on a wall- mounted screen at one end of the family room. Exercise equipment occupies the center of the room, with a second wall- mounted TV and more seating at the opposite end.
The Mogas had speakers installed in the ceiling so both TVs could play without the sound carrying into another section of the room. The center wall also hides storage space and the boiler, with more storage available behind the maple panels in a corner of the rink.
Regardless of the intended use of a remodeled basement, mechanicals pose the biggest challenge to contractors, according to McGuire. Vujovich not only needed to hide the electrical and plumbing work, but also dig up the floor to install insulation and a radiant heating system.
Like many old houses, this one yielded a few surprises. Beneath the old flooring, the contractor discovered a cistern that measured 7 feet across and 15 feet deep and likely caught melted snow and rainwater from the downspouts years ago. Earlier remodels of the house revealed unsupported floors beneath the master bedroom and a second-story sleeping porch.
“I always say, it’s not whether or not you’re going to have a problem, but when will that problem show up,” McGuire said.
Vujovich installed a steel beam to replace a series of columns that had supported the ceiling and bisected the basement. The beam, now covered, serves as a divider for the otherwise eight-foot ceiling. A previous owner had removed a center stairwell to the base- ment, but Vujovich had to remove a tiny bathroom that Heather Moga likened to an outhouse.
The contractor also remodeled the laundry room with new appliances and storage shelves and built a new half bath. At Frank Moga’s suggestion, the company installed a transom window in an upper wall. Natural light from that window flows through the glass block in the laundry room to penetrate the bath as well.
The skating surface took care of the flooring aesthetic in half of the base- ment. For the other parts, the Mogas chose concrete stained in shades of gray and sealed for protection and shine. The concrete flooring extends from the laundry and half-bath to the base of the stairs and into the family room.
Heather Moga still dislikes the bugs that used to dart around the old base- ment floor but has gotten over her fear of the basement. She plays hockey down there with the boys and moves the net to play a few rounds of solo tennis against the wall when they’re not around.
“I didn’t want to be down here because it was so creepy,” she said. “We spend almost all of our time down here now.”