Saturday, February 22, 2014

Let There Be White in the Basement

Thanks for all your well-wishes about Rerun! I loved the slew of comments and e-mails. It made me feel very popular and like I'd accomplished something besides accidentally getting knocked up. I'll have lots more to say about that (per the usual), but tonight I decided that it's time to write about some of the projects we've been working on around here.

When we bought our new house, the basement was... weird.  (Disclaimer: My photos are not great because there's no natural light down there and because I'm not a great photographer.  Also, nothing is styled blogger-style or styled at all, really.  This is just how we live, folks.  Keep your judgment to yourself.  Except the before pictures are not really how we live because they were taken in process of rearranging and putting together bookcases, so just slightly crazier than usual.)

Okay.  When we first bought the house, we walked down the basement stairs into a shag carpeted, wood-paneled, drop-ceiling room.  The room was long, narrow, and dark (because of all the wood paneling and because the walls that weren't paneled were painted a super ugly beige).

It looks crazy because we were putting together the white bookcases, but you get the idea of the paneling here.
Looking back toward the stairs from the alcove where my desk is situated. Ugh, my poor books lived in boxes for far too long.
After much discussion, we had the paneling and oppressively-beige walls (I swear they were much more offensive than they appear in photos) painted white (Dover White by Sherwin Williams).  We considered doing this ourselves but ultimately hired a professional to do the basement paneling at the same time they did our kitchen cabinets (a post on that coming soon), not only because they would be far more efficient than we could be with fitting in painting around our schedule on nights and weekends, but also because we wanted to make sure the end result would be really polished and perfect.  (Spoiler:  It was money well spent).

Putting a coat of white on the walls instantly opened up the basement and made it feel SO MUCH bigger and brighter.  It's an amazing difference.  I even feel different when I walk down the stairs and it doesn't feel like I'm going down into a dark cave.

Zuzu's toys are shoved in one corner, and down the line I think I'd like to set up a little coloring station and put an easel down here.  This may also be where she gets a play kitchen, or could be where we put a train table or a dollhouse, depending what her interests are.

After we built the bookshelves in the living room upstairs, it became clear that there still wasn't enough room for our library on the three bookcases down here, especially once David moved our upstairs TV down to the basement.  So we ordered two more bookcases to really finish off the basement.  You know I love it.

We finally donated the super ugly chair left behind by the former owners (barely visible in the first picture in this post).  I'd had vague plans to reupholster it, but it wasn't comfortable and the legs were ugly and I decided I'd rather scope out thrift stores and try to find something else that would work down there than put the money and effort into reupholstering something we wouldn't really love anyway.  So I'm keeping an eye out for a chair that would fit in well down there.  I'm imagining something bright with a fun pattern.

The futon is still hanging out, having served us well from the time David was in college.  I keep thinking maybe grown-ups aren't supposed to have futons anymore?  And also it's ugly.  But it really is nice to have an extra bed in a pinch.  I'd like to stain it a darker color, which I think would make it look less... country?  But that is not a pressing desire at this point.

So, for now the futon fits perfectly in this little space, and is easy enough to move twice a year to get out and put away the Christmas tree, which gets stored in the little closet under the stairs.  The door to the closet looks like it's a different color than the walls, but it's just the funky lighting and my inability to use (slash lack of interest in) the white-balance function on my camera.

Can you tell David put the futon cover back on himself? I'm not complaining--it's a tough job! But we do need to turn it so the zipper goes across the top and isn't so visible. Of course, I also need to actually choose fabric (bright and patterned to match my imaginary chair) and sew new covers for those pillows. 
My desk is hanging out back in the alcove where it belongs.  It is mostly operating right now as a sewing station, since the plan is to get a little writing desk to put in the living room upstairs.  But this desk will also house our wireless printer and the storage drawers will hold a few other office supplies that we don't need cluttering things upstairs.

Desk space needs some art on the walls and an organization system! All in good time.
Also there's a rowing machine leaning against the wall.  Le sigh.
That door on the right leads into the bathroom.  The former owners added it when they did the extension upstairs, so it's pretty new.  We haven't really done anything in there, but for all you nosy folks, here's what it looks like:

Hello, please look at my toilet.
This is where David gets nekkid.  TMI?  Sorry.
Sink and medicine cabinet.  Difficult to photograph.
There's still a lot of stuff to do down here--namely hang some more things on the wall and figure out the furniture situation.

In the next phase of the basement makeover, the plan is to replace the shaggy carpet with dark cork flooring.  I am super excited about this, but not ready to pull the trigger on such a big non-essential expense.  It may have to wait until we're no longer paying daycare tuition for at least one little Duck.  Still, the changes we've made are already a tremendous improvement.  The basement has shifted already from a place I entered by necessity--to switch the laundry--to a place I actually enjoy spending time in.  If only I could keep Zuzu from climbing the bookcases.


  1. LOVE it. The white is a huge improvement and the bookshelves look great. I have always wanted a long wall of shelves like that. And you have two! I should really show these pictures to Ryan!

    And I love that bathroom too!

  2. I am beyond jealous of those bookshelves, and your basement altogether!! I'm a bit curious though, is it the only shower? Is David getting nekkid down there out of necessity or because he's been banned from the upstairs shower. Sometimes I want to ban J from ours when he tracks in red mud various other evidences that the outside world exists but I haven't done it yet. Plus we only have 1 shower. Lame.

    I canNOT wait to see your kitchen.

  3. There's nothing like a coat or two of paint! It just makes everything better :-)

  4. It's not the only shower in our house--there's one in the upstairs bathroom also. David has just decided to leave the upstairs bathroom to the girls so he gets himself ready in the basement. This also keeps him from using my fancy shampoo.

  5. Love the white walls! Our basement is dark blue with white trim and we have it divided as our play area, office, "guest" room and bathroom. My husband sometimes takes a shower down there too lol ;)


  6. So, I love it. Because my opinion doesn't matter at all, but wanted to give you a virtual (dorky?!) high-five.

    I love the bookcases, too. I love that they're white to brighten the dark basement as well. I also love that you didn't have to paint yourself. Score.

    That little bathroom is awesome! I sort of love the paneling in there. It looks rustic, but not old and dingy. And the shower is awesome, too. I love that it's not a bath and wish ours didn't have a bath in our master. I'm totally not a bath taker.

    Elliot also gets nekkid in our basement more often than in our master bathroom because he tends to go to bed later than me and takes a shower at night. And I'm not being woken up to showering... so he showers downstairs. So there. Two basement shower-taking husbands.

  7. Love knowing where David gets nekkid. ha. :)

    I love the basement and how it has progressed- it really is the little stuff and then you wonder wtf you didn't do it earlier/sooner.

  8. Throes bookshelves look awesome! I love that they give a build in look (probably because you have so many and so many books all side by side). Looks wonderful.

    What a great little place for guests too. We must invite ourselves over one day.

  9. I love the white. So fresh.. and not basement-y at all.

    And that bathroom is super cute! So cabin like. Reminds me of those people that have a sauna in their basement. You should put a sauna in your basement!