Tuesday, April 21, 2015

DIY Basement Room Renovation

I came across some old pictures of our basement this weekend.  I'd forgotten we took these pictures, so I thought I would share a little renovation we did here about nine or ten years ago.  We did this ourselves -- we're not carpenters, so it's not the same as a professional job.  But we think it turned out pretty well; our family and friends definitely seemed impressed.  :)  There's a big difference in the "before" and "after."  I don't have a lot of pictures of this room; I need to take some more first chance I get.

 When our son was in middle school, we decided to finish a room in our basement so he'd have a place to hang out and have friends over, and we used it to host our car club a few times, too.  We live in a ranch-style house, so our basement is pretty big.  Part of it had already been divided years ago by a previous owner.  They put up inexpensive paneling (lovely stuff from the 70's) and someone had painted the walls an anemic-looking yellow.  Otherwise, nothing had really been done to improve the basement.

Here's the room right after our work was (mostly) finished.  My husband and our son did almost all the work themselves.  We had an electrician come in to add some new outlets and light switches for us, and Lowe's® installed our carpet.

I'm sorry the quality of these pictures is not so great.  I edited this one with a softening effect because the lights are glaring in the picture.  This area had been so dark and dreary before, and we were thrilled with our new lighting.  Obviously, we turned everything on for the picture.  ;)  We planned all the colors and lighting to make this room, brighter and warmer looking.  This section of the basement is underground, so there are no windows and no natural light. The first thing hubby and son did was to install a drop ceiling.  We couldn't believe what a huge improvement that made right off the bat.

If you look at the ceiling in the picture above and look to the far left, you can see there's one portion still not finished.  This section required the tiles be cut to fit, so it was done last.  In looking at that unfinished strip, you can get an idea of what the ceiling looked like before.  The white bookcase facing us in the picture was built by my husband and son.  My husband had the idea to have a bookcase that would fit right behind the sofa and would be accessible from the front and back of the sofa.  He came up with the design himself.

Here's the other side of the bookcase.  Our son kept his video games and DVDs in this section, so they were easily accessible when he and his friends were playing games or watching DVDs.  The sofa was a donation from my parents; when they built the house they're in now, they bought a new sofa and gave us this one for our basement room.

The two colored doors in the background were painted like that when we bought the house.  We had planned to re-paint them, but never got around to it.  The dark paneling you see next to the staircase was here also.  We'll end up painting that too, eventually.  If you go through the red door at the bottom of the stairs, you'll be in the other half of the basement.  This half has two small windows and two garage doors with windows, so it gets some natural light.  My husband parks his Miata on one side, and our washer, dryer, and the riding mower are on the other side.  Beyond where the car is parked is my husband's work bench and shop area.

Now here are two pictures of the basement before we did anything to it.  It was an ugly, messy, dark, cave.

Eeek!!  Pretty darn ugly, right? (The room, not the boys)  :-D  That's our son in the beige chair with the watch on, and those are three of his close friends.  They've all grown up and gone their separate ways now.  I can't believe how fast the years went by.

Just look at this awful mess!!  We had a ton of stuff when we moved here, and finishing this room was a good way to force us to go through and get rid of a lot.  We had old textbooks from college, my husband's textbooks from graduate school, a million magazines, and almost all of our son's toys (I'm so sentimental it was hard for me to get rid of his things).  I had knick-knacks from my apartment before we got married, and most of the stuff we'd had in our very first home.  We've gotten rid of a lot of stuff and still need to get rid of more. 

I honestly avoided coming down here most of the time, because it was dark and spidery.  Notice to the right of the refrigerator (above), behind the boys, is the fireplace.  It was very unattractive , as it had a rusty old Buck stove left here by the previous owners.  The walls were a dreadful, yellow-painted cinder block.

In the left of this picture you can see our two circuit breaker boxes (white arrow), our son's old toy box, a support pole for the house (red arrow), and various old computers.  Does this not look like something out of "Hoarders?!!"  The floors were just plain concrete with area rugs.  My husband built a divider wall to the right of the brown pole, so you don't see the pole or the breaker boxes in the finished room. 

One of my husband's co-workers wanted the Buck stove, so we gave it to her.  We bought a new insert for the fireplace, and it looks so much better.

Obviously these pictures were taken before we hung anything on the walls.  These walls are paneling, and the color is "Butter Suede."  The carpet we chose was a Berber weave.

In this picture, the refrigerator is still in the room.  We later moved it to the other side of the divider wall.  For our lighting, we chose two track lights with four fixtures on each.  We initially had the old-style fluorescent lights down here with pull chains instead of wall switches.  After we installed the track lights, the electrician put in new wall switches for us.  No more hunting for pull chains in the dark.  We're also using these great LED light bulbs now, that I'll tell you about in another post.

We replaced the light in the center of the ceiling with a ceiling fan.  You can see it in the above picture.

Here the ceiling is all finished and we've hung pictures on the walls.  We purchased two punched-tin candle sconces in Old Salem for either side of the fireplace.  We also hung a tapestry depicting an antique map over the fireplace.  You can see the corner of it in the left of the picture.  Obviously, these pictures were taken around Christmas time since we had a tree decorated.

The table and chairs came from my parents, as well; they used to be in our kitchen when we first married.  The big cabinet with drawers and shelves, opposite the fireplace, came from our former neighbors down the street.  It was hand-made; it's solid maple and extremely heavy.  It's a great place to store things, and it works well as a spot to set up food for a party or get-together.

Here we're looking toward the other end of the room.  Behind the white "DIY" label is the opening to the unfinished section with our refrigerator, breaker boxes, and storage shelves.  At the far end of the finished room is a TV cabinet and bookcase we purchased from Overstock.com.  We've been very pleased with them.  My husband wants to put a flat-screen TV down here in the future.

To the left of the TV cabinet is an electric keyboard on a stand.  To the right of the sofa is a chair and ottoman (also from my parents house).

Our little Christmas tree; I don't put one down here anymore because it's a lot of extra work.

I think my husband and son did a great job on this room because this was their first time to do a project of this size.  It was a lot of work.  They put up wood framework on the cinder block walls, and they added insulation as well, before putting up the paneling.  We also installed the track lights and ceiling fan ourselves; I helped with those.  :)  My husband sees things he would do differently now, but it's a huge improvement from what was there before.

We went from this --

to this.

From this...

to this.  It's not a professional job, but it's worked for us.  We're so glad it's not a dark, messy cave now.  I'm sharing this post at "Metamorphosis Monday" hosted by Susan at Between Naps on the PorchThank you so much for stopping by, and I hope you have a great week!



  1. It looks like a wonderful place for all kinds of things besides just hanging out--crafts, parties, etc. I do miss having a basement!

  2. That was the perfect hang out space for your son and his friends, Denise! Thanks for sharing all the before and after photos of your DIY renovation. I'm sure the basement was a much loved room for all of you.

  3. HI Denise! Oh, your basement looks wonderful! How nice to have had the space for your son and his gang to play in. I love the afters! How nice to have a finished basement. We've never had one until this house and we're loving it. Although it's unfinished. Maybe one day we can afford to have it finished.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  4. Bravo and well done! I am always so please that just with a few alterations a space can really sparkle.
    Have a lovely weekend dear one.



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