December 4, 2005
The pub downstairs
Bethlehem resident gives his basement a makeover
By Beth W. Orenstein
Special to The Morning Call

When Scott and Kasie Seymour went to England last year, they felt very much at home.

And well they might.

Scott has spent the better part of a year transforming the unfinished basement in their Historic Bethlehem townhouse into an authentic English pub.

Scott based his design for the pub room on photographs. The trip to England was in part to be a confirmation.

''It was nice to go to a pub and say, 'I got it right,''' Scott says, looking from the bar to the sitting area of the finished room, which is about 23 by 29 feet.

The Seymours live in an end unit of 12 brick townhouses on West Market Street. Although the exterior of the townhouses is meant to look old, they were built in the late 1980s, ''and are much newer construction than most buildings in the historic district,'' Scott says.

The Seymours, who met as undergraduates at Moravian College, bought their townhouse just before their wedding in the fall of 2003.

While the three-bedroom, four-story house had a spacious living room, Scott and Kasie wanted something less formal where they could entertain their family and friends. They also needed a place for Scott's pet turtle, ''Syd'' short for Sydney a red-eared slider who was outgrowing her 50-gallon tank they kept on the third floor.

Scott thought the unfinished basement ideal for the project and sat down with paper and pencil. ''I tried to come up with ideas about what we wanted to do,'' he says.

That's when Scott, who plays bagpipes in a band and likes to brew his own beer, thought of an English pub. It could provide a tap for his brew and a home for Syd, whom he has had for eight years. ''Since I'm a beer aficionado, it seemed like a good fit,'' he says.

Also, he says, ''I just always liked the look of British pubs.'' To Scott, ''the interior of a British pub fosters a certain level of comfort.''

The result is a room that has at one end an oak bar 111/2 feet long by 33 inches wide and a sitting area with leather couches and a large flat-screen TV at the other.

Built into the wall behind the bar is a 130-gallon tank: Syd's place. David Bishop of Slatington, owner of KissYourFish.com, helped with the design and did the installation. ''Moving 100 pounds of glass was not my idea of a good time,'' Scott says.

The bar is complete with a brass rail and five solid oak barstools made in Canada. It also has a commercial kegerator.

Scott bought the barstools and the brass rail on the Internet.

''The Web is perfect for things when you know exactly what it is you want,'' he says. Many other items he bought locally, including the lighting and the glass for the cubby holes on either side of the tank.

Scott, who had learned woodworking from a friend at Moravian, made the bar himself. Knowing it would be difficult to get it down the stairs, he designed the bar so it could be assembled in the basement. ''I stained and varnished it here,'' he says.

While making the bar, Scott thought that perhaps he had bit off a little more than he could chew. ''But we got through it,'' he says.

Scott changes the handles on the bar's tap periodically. He gets some beer handles from friends who work at area bars or whose family own bars. The center tap is where he keeps his home brew and changes it to match the batch he has just done.

A dart board and wall sconces that look like 18th-century streetlights also contribute to the ambiance. All of the lighting is on a Lutron remote control system.

Below the wainscoting, the walls are a dark green aged pine, while the upper half are a deep yellow ochre.

A tin ceiling over the bar area is a final touch. It's the color of Spanish tile and complements the color scheme.

''I did a drop ceiling over the bar because of the soffits,'' he says.

With Kasie's permission, Scott made the bathroom a men's room. It's outfitted with only a urinal and a sink. Besides, he says, ''I told her there are four other bathrooms in the house.'' It's appropriately labeled ''Men's Room.'' It's block lettered sign is just like those found in a bar or restaurant.

A tray ceiling in the sitting area hides the duct work and other essentials of the house.

Oak doors lead to the laundry room, which is behind the bar. Scott left space under the stairs for a dry goods pantry.

The floor of the basement is oak, too. It is made of panels that could be glued directly to the concrete.

Because it's a basement, floor to ceiling height was an issue. If Scott had opted for traditional hardwood, he would have had to lay a plywood sub-floor and he could have lost an inch of height. ''Using this kind of product eliminates that,'' he says.

Also, the panels come finished so the floor doesn't have to be stained and polished once it is laid.

A financial planner by day, Scott found working on the room ''great right-brain activity.''

He did those parts of the project that he was capable of and wanted to do. ''Some things I wanted to do and others I could do, but I didn't want to take the time,'' he says.

It took him a little more than a year to pull the room together. ''But it's the kind of thing,'' he says, ''that you're never really done.''

Kasie, Scott says, has her eye on a three-quarter scale British-telephone booth to hold their music collection. Scott also wants to frame some old photographs to hang on the walls.

Beth W. Orenstein is a freelance writer.

Real Estate Editor Eloise DeHaan