Speakeasies in the basement provide prohibition vibes

Speaking aids emerged in the 1920s after the 18th Amendment made the manufacture, sale, transportation, or consumption of “intoxicating liquors” illegal. The law came into force in 1920 and was repealed in 1933. These 13 years are known as Prohibition.

Speak-easies became clandestine meeting places where spirits were served, often in basements or back alleys. Many were poorly lit, gloomy environments that didn’t draw attention. Clientele would “talk lightly” about their excursions for obvious reasons.

This rough time in American history holds such nostalgia for some people that they want to recreate it in their homes to provide family and guests with an underground good time.

“Out of Time”

Interior designer Laura Yeager Smith was delighted when a client asked for a consulting room for the 1,500-square-foot basement of her 1990s home in Hudson, Ohio.

“A speak-easy is all about being transcended in time,” she says. “It has to have a moody, masculine vibe with a touch of industrial.”

Posters with headlines about 1920s Prohibition adorn the walls of a basement in Hudson, Ohio.

The house Smith worked on has two flights of stairs to the basement, including one from the garage (a secret passage, if you will). Smith began by attaching thin brick and industrial outdoor lights to the stairwell walls to create a back alley backdrop.

A bookshelf hides a secret door to an unfinished storage area. Another door contains a sliding peephole, a telltale speaking element.

Thinner brick on accent walls, charcoal-colored woodwork, and hammered tin ceilings carry the vibe throughout.

A Prohibition-inspired whiskey cask was used in a basement remodel in Hudson, Ohio.

Using rough-sawn wood, Smith designed a rounded ceiling over a seating area with a banquet table supported by whiskey casks.

An old family heirloom phonograph, a few moonshine jugs on the onyx bar, and reproduced newspaper posters with headlines about the Al Capone trial complete the look.

A reenactment redesign

When Amy and Bruce Eckert first started discussing basement remodeling ideas for their American Tudor home in Holland, Michigan, they never thought of just talking. The home was built in 1927 and the couple endeavored to keep all renovations as period as possible.

“When we were remodeling the bathrooms and kitchen, I could come up with all sorts of ideas, but search ‘1920s basements’ and you get nothing,” says Amy.

The idea of ​​a speak-easy came about through a conversation with an acquaintance.

The main problem with any renovation of a 95 year old house is that it is 95 years old. Nothing is square.

Nothing is equal. The contractor spent weeks repairing a leak in the basement basement window and building a separate window from an old coal shaft. Subcontractors replaced the wiring, plumbing, and heating and air conditioning. They poured about 18 bags of leveling compound to make the concrete suitable for the wood tiles the Eckerts chose.

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