Here’s how Bob Gallese and the team at Acclaim Renovations & Design transformed one Mentor couple’s basement

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For the Horton family, Acclaim Renovations & Design transformed their basement into a functional, family-friendly space boasting a huge nod to Ohio State football. (Photography:Benjamin Margalit)

By Patricia Nugent

The month of September is filled with notable distinctions. First of all, it’s National Happy Cat Month. For equal pet-share, 9/8 is National Hug Your Hound Day. The 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day (arrggggh) and—my personal favorite—the 24th is National Punctuation Day(!).

But in addition to all these points of renown, September is also well-known to home remodelers as the kickoff to basement renovation season. Because if you want the transformation done in time for the cocoon of colder weather to settle in and the holidays to arrive, you’ve got to pull the trigger soon.

Over the past 45 years in the industry, Bob Gallese, owner of Acclaim Renovations & Design, has masterminded basement renovations both big and small. And while there are many commonalities in what people seek to accomplish (more living space, entertainment area, kids’ play zone, guest suites), each one is unique.

“The basement should be an extension of your home,” he says. “I want each job to reflect what the homeowner is passionate about. If you’re a football fan and see yourself throwing Browns parties, we build a bar and surround for a big flat screen. If you’re a wine lover, we might suggest a wine room.”

According to Bob, finishing your basement is a sure-fire way to add value to your home. He estimates the average cost of a renovation is $55,000-$85,000 and takes around six to eight weeks to complete from start to finish, as cabinetry takes six weeks to come in.

The built-in bench cleverly hides plumbing pipes.

A Five-Star Basement Reno
Meet the Hortons of Mentor. Steve and Toni always planned to finish their 1,200-square-foot basement when they moved into their home 15 years ago. But Toni was expecting their first child and the couple became pretty busy. Fast-forward to now and they have two active teens, ages 13 and 14.

“We were looking to add square footage of living space for entertaining, as well as an exercise studio for the kids,” says Toni.

The Hortons are fervent Ohio State fans, so the finished result includes a life-sized cutout of Brutus Buckeye, who stands guard at the bar area, and the refrigerator is a Columbus-approved shade of scarlet. The bar seats six and features two counter levels for workspace and serving area.

Toni reports they tapped into Bob’s creativity for ways to hide things like water meters and pipes and still make the space look as spacious as possible.

They put in a bathroom and created a wall of custom-built open and closed shelving, to flank the TV.

Bob says durability was as important as design to the Hortons, so they went with luxury vinyl tile floor and laminate countertops.

“Lighting is an integral aspect that can go overlooked in a basement renovation,” he says. “We chose to break up this wide-open area by installing bright can lighting that can be dimmed, and creating different zones to match the distinct areas.”

The bar seats six and features two counter levels for workspace and serving area.

“They Made us Feel Like Family”
“This is the first time we’ve done a renovation like this, and I was a little concerned about having strangers in my home for an extended period of time,” says Toni. “But after just one talk on the phone with Bob, my fears were put to rest. Every step of the process, from selecting our materials in their showroom to interfacing with the craftsmen each day made us feel like family. They could not have been more accommodating.”

Acclaim Renovations & Design powered by One Man and a Hammer is located at 8550 East Avenue in Mentor. The company has been awarded Contractor of the Year by NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry). Call 440-974-8082 or visit