Let's Be Frankish

Home Renovations Can Be Easy!

Article by: Kristine Kiss
Photography by: Ellie Kistemaker
Originally Published in: Good Life in the City - November - December 2009

Happy_Clients_on_Finished_Staircase.jpgCity TV’s Breakfast Television Host Kevin Frankish gives GoodLife a candid look at his latest home reno It could be described as almost a pet peeve of his, but Kevin Frankish really didn't like the idea of a dark tunnel entrance leading to a dungeon-like basement. After his kids grew out of their “bouncing around” stage he and his wife Beth decided it was time to rid their home of such a nuisance.

The married couple of 21 years recently renovated their home of almost eleven years, in the south end of Barrie, turning a plain, unfinished basement into a retreat for both kids and parents. “We wanted something that would make it part of the house … so that was the one criterion we started out with,” said Kevin. “We wanted it to be open from the upstairs; we didn't want a tunnel to the basement.”

The Frankish family was aiming for an open concept and smooth flowing entrance from their main level. Their first undertaking would be to establish the design and materials, an often daunting task of picking and choosing. They looked to contractor Steve Crisp from Basement Concepts.

“I took the Frankish’s to visit other recent clients whose basements we had finished with some of the same quality materials. This also helped to really visualize what their end product would look like; it’s much better to see the real thing over photo’s,” said Crisp.

008.jpg“With photographs it is very difficult to get the right lighting in enclosed areas and small spaces, to show the true colours of tile, flooring and paint.”

The once austere living space, described by Kevin and Beth’s son as having “big fluffy walls” is now a successfully completed entertainment center. A three-piece bath and large accessory closet accompany the full exercise gym and media room.

Removing the wall and recessing the floor on the main level created a more affable entrance. A curved staircase with open risers acts as an excellent compliment to the bold porcelain flooring. Installed at a forty-five degree angle, the flooring, which resembles dark-hardwood, also creates dimension and contrast alongside the transparent glass walls of the personal gym.

“We wanted to keep things as open as possible,” explained Beth. “When you look into it (the gym) it has wall to wall mirrors, so it’s very open in that respect.”

Finished_Staircase.jpgAlthough the glass wall achieves disclosure between the two rooms it provides a tasteful and unobtrusive barrier.

“It’s amazing actually. I could be down working out and watching television and I can’t even hear the kids on the computer or if they’re talking,” said Beth. “It’s really kind of nice having that private little section. It’s a sanctuary for me.” The fitness room is also equipped with a large LCD television, stereo and soft cork flooring, which is easier on the joints and also minimizes sound.

“The gym almost encourages you to work out. It’s a pleasant place to be,” said Kevin. “When we were in the unfinished basement it was all one big room and if the kids were watching TV downstairs we were right beside each other.” Kevin and Beth are content with their four children’s overtaking of the new media space. Kevin shamefully admits that he doesn't watch much television, but says the new renovation has offered him and Beth some peace and quiet when they do sit down to relax.

“The kids have sort of taken possession of the media room, which is nice; they have the games and the television and it’s all there, so they’re not nearly upstairs as much.”

Despite the welcomed separation the design is also conducive to a hectic, but nurturing family life.

“Spend a little extra and hire a professional organization that not only has years of experience but carries all the very important workplace safety insurance, liability insurance, business and trades licenses,”

010.jpgKeeping with the spacious approach and contemporary style seen throughout, the bathroom is an essential element in this case, offering Kevin refuge to prepare for his early 3:30 a.m. work mornings and commute to Toronto. The media room, which houses a large, wallmounted plasma television, audio system, two gaming systems and two computers, meets the needs of the four Frankish children, engaged with schooling and of course, having fun. “It is a busy household, but it’s a nice area where the kids can go and they’re not being shut off from the rest of the house,” said Beth. “It was really important to us that it became part of our home as opposed to the basement.”

The finishing touches were some simple furnishings, handpicked eclectic wall coverings and decorative wall sconces to supplement predominantly pot lighting. Designer Sue Kay helped the Frankish’s to establish cool wall tones throughout the house and continued with that theme in the new rooms. A dark Mississippi brown accompanies contrasting undertones found in the furnishings.

Kevin and Beth are extremely happy with the final product and weren't shy in giving credit where it’s deserved.

“You can’t say enough about Steve Crisp and he really is the brain child behind it,” said Kevin. “He guided us from beginning to end and is the most incredible contractor; we didn't have to do anything.”

It’s a common theme for many unsuspecting homeowners heading into this type of project to run into problems with contractors and subcontractors, when they don’t do their homework. For those facing a new renovation, Crisp offers some advice.

“Spend a little extra and hire a professional organization that not only has years of experience but carries all the very important workplace safety insurance, liability insurance, business and trades licenses,” advised Crisp. “Your home is your biggest and most valuable investment; letting an unqualified and uninsured handyman loose in your house is like letting a fifth grader handle your investment portfolio.” It can also be wise to look for contractors with readily available references, as in the case with Crisp. This gives the new consumer reassurance for what’s ahead.

“We are very proud to be able to hand over a list of names and addresses of our current and very last twenty clients with every estimate, something we know very few contractors can do,” said Crisp. “From there as a final step we are happy to arrange viewings of completed basements and or basements in construction.”

Not only do viewings procure comfort and confidence, but they can also provide a decorating muse for the prospective client, presenting ideas on layout and materials.

A renovation can be a positive and exciting experience, or a horrible disaster. Kevin and Beth say taking the time to find the right contractor makes all the difference. To those thinking of taking on such an enterprise, commit to responsible preparation, go to it and good luck!

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Testimonial from Breakfast Television's Kevin Frankish

"You can’t say enough about Steve Crisp and he really is the brain child behind it. He guided us from beginning to end and is the most incredible contractor; we didn’t have to do anything."

— Breakfast Television's Kevin Frankish

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