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Best Room

Once a catchall for toys and exercise equipment, the basement of this Sewickley home is now a sophisticated entertainment space.


Looking around Jennifer and Paul Palguta’s basement, you might think you were inside a luxury apartment Downtown. 

The large sectional sofa in a neutral light grey faces a modern focal wall with metallic tile in multiple textures, a linear LED fireplace and a wall-mounted TV. The fireplace is accented on either side by gold geometric vases and sleek media storage cabinets of handmade blackened steel. Near the lounge area is a spacious bar with leathered Sequoia Brown granite countertops and a waterfall edge, a full-size wine cooler and refrigerator, plus a romantic dining booth. Upscale Hubbardton Forge light fixtures hang above the bar and dining area.


But walk outside and you’d find a back yard, patio and the rolling hills of Sewickley, not a concrete jungle

Once a catchall for toys, exercise equipment and miscellaneous items, the Palguta family’s basement renovation by Lauren Levant Interior was the judges’ pick for the 2019 Best Room. 


After explaining to Levant — who also took honors for the 2019 Best Bathroom Renovation — that they wanted a sophisticated room where they could entertain, as well as hang out with their children, Jennifer and Paul say they still can’t believe what the space was able to become. 

“My favorite [part of the renovation] overall is the island and the whole bar area,” Jennifer says. “It’s easy to entertain and welcoming for our guests.”

The soft and warm colors of the paint and textiles, including iridescent wallpaper on the ceiling above the wine bar, give a feeling of coziness to the room that definitely was not there before. Angular furnishings provide just the right amount of contrast to the warmth.


After contractor D’Augostine Construction unexpectedly discovered a bump in the foundation that previously had been closed off,  Levant and the Palgutas decided to use it as an opportunity to change the entire design plan in the middle of the project — for the better. 

Levant says the location of a powder room was moved to the small area freed up by the discovery, which in turn allowed for more space in the main entertaining area. 


“Once we discovered that, everything got a little bigger and better,” she says. “My floor plan number two then featured a bar that was probably 30 percent bigger at least and an overall flow that was much improved by reshuffling some of the main areas.”

One of the challenges with the basement before the renovation was the lack of flow in the space, according to Paul. Now, it’s one of the best parts of the room. The couple says they’re making plans with Levant to renovate the rest of their home in the same vein as the basement.

“We love our basement that much,” says Jennifer. “I still walk in and think ‘Oh my God, this is so cool down here.’”



Designer: Lauren Levant
Contractor: D’Augostine Construction
Appliances: Wolf, Sub-Zero, U-Line, Bosch
Lighting: Hubbardton Forge
Tile: Lunada Bay
Countertops: Sequoia Brown Leathered Granite, Crema Marfil 
Cabinets: Crystal Cabinets
Plumbing: Franke
Hardware: Berenson
Furnishings (Bar/Banquette Area): Grothouse Lumber, Palecek, Kravet, DL Couch, Lorts, Pindler
Furnishings (Living Room/Fireplace Area): Precedent, Century, Kravet, Uttermost, Bernhardt, Combine 9, Pindler, Pittsburgh Rug Company, Dimplex

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