Blogger and stylist Melanie Lissack’s hands are always itching to tackle a new project, and when lockdown began in the United Kingdom in 2020, the next task on her list was a total basement renovation. Thanks to England’s near constant drizzle, almost every corner of the small room was perpetually damp. The space was dark, wet, and in desperate need of a revamp. “There was never going to be a perfect time to tear all of the walls down,” Lissack says with a laugh, and due to the pandemic, she wasn’t comfortable hiring any construction help. But suddenly stuck at home—and with no functional office, to boot—she was inspired to put on her work gloves and get down to business.

Melanie Lissack

Tear It All Down

Before Lissack could get started with any of the aesthetic changes she had in her Instagram saved folder, what was up needed to be taken down. The 19th-century home had layers of moisture-ridden paint and wallpaper that had to be stripped. “I peeled back a corner of the old wallpaper and an entire section of wall fell off with it,” Lissack recalls, laughing. “There was so much patching by the end.” Some layers came off easier than others, thanks to YouTube tutorials and a lot of Zinsser sealant. She also replaced the previous carpeting with an off-white low pile

One Color and Done

Given the space only has one window, Lissack knew that adding brightness in other ways was key. Enter a sage green paint color (at night it reads more gray), which swaths everything from the wood paneling to the ceiling to the window trim. In most cases, an allover shade can make a space feel more enclosed (the opposite of Lissack’s goal). However, here the verdant hue, Canvas II by Paint & Paper Library, is light enough to still reflect what little natural light comes through the windowpanes. 


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The filing cabinet Lissack had her eye on for important documents (and linens) coincidentally came in almost the exact same hue. “I no longer feel like work is looming over me; it blends in with the now soothing surroundings,” she notes.

Less Is More

Despite the basement being only about 100 square feet, it still had to serve multiple functions. Lissack not only needed a functional workspace for writing blog posts, she required a table for her DIYs and floral arrangements and a place for guests to sleep. Pre-renovation, the room was crowded with a queen-size sleeper sofa and heavy wood desk left over from her previous home that left little room for anything else, let alone moving around the pieces. “I’m only 5 feet; I don’t need big furniture,” says Lissack about her thought process behind the new pieces. A faux sheepskin sofa found on Made makes the perfect napping spot for her Cavalier King Charles spaniel, plus it easily folds out into a twin bed. And a small white desk from West Elm with brass legs takes up half the space in the same corner, leaving plenty of room for an IKEA kitchen island–turned–craft station.