While most tween skateboarders and scooter enthusiasts are just easing into spring — heading to city-run skateboard parks to start rehearsing the latest tricks — Jakob and Zakary Kaiser have been fine-tuning their moves all winter. Inspired by the desire to be active and have fun as a family, the boys’ parents, Mike Kaiser and Isabelle Quenneville, joined forces with Just Basements president Norm Lecuyer to transform half their unfinished basement into the ultimate tween-approved hangout: a 765-square-foot skateboard park designed with scooters and mini BMX bikes in mind.
Though he has designed hundreds of basements, this was Lecuyer’s first request for a tricks park, and he went at the project with gusto. The design was a joint effort, with Kaiser heading to local facilities to watch how kids used the equipment and Quenneville researching design ideas online. The trio then spent five months going back and forth before settling on an industrial-chic rectangular scooter space with two quarter-pipes. In between, a portable rollover and a box with rails can be easily moved to change the course configuration.
The portability of the two elements means the family can remove them completely when they want to enjoy other sports. “We also use the space for Nerf wars, soccer, and hockey,” says Kaiser. “It’s a place to have fun and be active, but also a place to train.” (The boys take part in many sports, including speed skating and BMX racing.) With that dual purpose in mind, the scooter space is open to the home gym, and when bikes and scooters aren’t zipping by at speed, an anchor attachment on one wall allows for the hookup of a slackline that traverses the room.
The idea was to impart a bit of attitude to the room, giving it a more urban feel with lots of concrete and plywood, an unfinished ceiling with exposed beams, and wire cages over the windows. Neilson then took on the role of graffiti artist, spray-painting a couple of high-energy murals that incorporate images and colours chosen by the family.
On this day, as Zakary whizzes back and forth — jumping, swerving, and generally showing off his slick moves — his mum marvels at just how perfectly everything turned out. “We worked so closely with Norm and Jenny that when we first stepped into the finished basement, it almost felt like we’d been here before. It was exactly what we’d planned — exactly how we pictured it looking.”