When one considers the word “basement,” a multitude of images may spring to mind, none of which typically evoke a sense of glamor or sophistication. However, under the skillful hands of Denver’s Duet Design Group, led by principal Devon Tobin, the paradigm shifts dramatically. Within the charming landscape of Cherry Hills Village, Duet Design transformed a seemingly ordinary basement into an art deco-inspired cinema basement and speakeasy.
Here, within this 1,500-square-foot, walnut-detailed jewel box of an environment, the homeowners can luxuriously lounge as they are transported back to an era of surreptitious sips and silver screen classics. A homage to the speakeasies of the roaring twenties, complete with walnut brass inlays and antique mirrors, the renovation breathes new life into underused spaces.
“Find spaces that you are not using and find an alternative way to utilize them—make them more of an experience,” says Tobin. She accomplished this by turning a possible closet space into the stunning custom-built cabinetry that houses an impressive collection of vintage and antique decanters above a bar.
Scale, often the bane of a designer’s existence, proved to be a blessing for Tobin and her team. The mammoth challenge was to carve out a bar, cocktail lounge, and home theater comfortably accommodating 10 people within the limited space. And, the final result? A roomy communal hangout where the “coffee tables” in the theater are actually just end tables, as Tobin cleverly scaled down to create a grand illusion.
Yet, every inch serves a purpose. A would-be storage closet now houses a stunning display case, replicating stacked old leather luggage with integrated LED lighting—a collaboration with local artisans.
As for the speakeasy bar, it’s a marvel of design that stretches lengthwise along a wall instead of towering upward toward the low ceilings. “We made the bar more like a wall feature,” says Tobin, highlighting the backlit open shelving, dark cabinetry, and an unexpected composition showcasing the spirits. A countertop runs along the wall beneath the display, evoking a secret watering hole.
The space is swathed in a seductive palette of rich walnut and deep grays, with warm, low-profile club-style seating that facilitates intimate conversation, creating an environment that’s moody, glam, mysterious, sophisticated, and utterly VIP.
And as it turns out, the timing couldn’t have been better. The pandemic highlighted our need to create spaces in our homes that facilitate calm, comfort, and connection with others and ourselves. “What the pandemic helped people realize is the value in loving their home,” says Tobin, a sentiment that echoes throughout this underground cinema/lounge. The project, conceived pre-pandemic, proved prescient, serving as a home sanctuary where the homeowners could find solace in tumultuous times.
The project redefined the concept of the basement, casting off its drab, underutilized image. Instead, it emerged as a setting where every element tells a story—a story of style, sophistication, and speakeasies, culminating in a place the homeowners love to inhabit. It’s not just a basement, it’s a destination.