March 2, 2010

Unfinished Finished Basement Before & After

Warning: ANOTHER LONG (and wordy) post to follow (sorry)

I've been wanting to do this post for a few weeks but haven't been able to churn it out due to all the craziness that's been going on. I mentioned in the blog post from yesterday that my husband and I decided to 'finish' our basement for the bridal shower I'd be throwing. By finish I really don't mean 'finish' in the traditional meaning of basement finishing. We wanted to give it a 'facelift' if you will.

Unfortunately I don't really have great 'before' pictures of the space. I found a few photos that were taken the day that we moved in that kind of show the basement, but they aren't great. I'm including them in here anyways. My house is considered a raised ranch, but it SO doesn't look like it. Basically our basement is under our house and houses our garage/work space on one side and our laundry room/basement on the other side. The basement side of the basement has a separate entrance and is where our laundry machines are located. there are two regular sized windows and three little basement windows. There is also a fireplace at one end. Here are the before pictures:

Laundry side from the garage door
Fireplace side, also taken from the garage door.  Built in closets are to the immediate left of this photo

Awesome, right?

When deciding what to do for this space I knew that I wanted to be able to create different areas. First of all I really wanted to create as much of a separate laundry 'room' as possible. I had originally had the idea of hanging things from the ceiling to denote the space. However after talking with my husband and lots of other stuff we decided to make a room divider screen. We went to the rehabitat store near our house (if you live in KC and haven't been there you are missing out!) and found 4 sets of bifold closet doors. They were in pretty rough shape. They were stained brown and some of them had been partially painted white - a project that had been abandoned and left some of the doors partly white-ish while the rest of the doors remained brown. Hands down painting these bifold doors was the WORST project EVER. E-V-E-R. Also on the laundry side there was an existing bathroom vanity with sink (which was not being used, the water had been turned off to the faucet) and a countertop. The vanity separates the washer and the dryer and the countertop is on the opposite side of the dryer. And that is the laundry area.

Outside of the laundry area the basement had white-ish walls (very dingy), florescent work lights (3, ugh!), and cords sticking out of the ceiling and down the wall nearly everywhere you looked. The fireplace was red brick and dingy. The floors were grey. There are also 2 different ceiling heights and two built in closets.

Plan of attack:

• Separate the laundry area from the rest of the basement

• Paint the walls, trim, and the floor

• Paint the fireplace

• Hang up window treatments

• Figure out a way to hide all the wires.

• Swap out the lighting (NO fluorescents please!)

We started by painting the walls an aqua/teal color and the floors a dark chocolate brown. We painted one half of the basement, the side with the fireplace. Although we thought the floors and walls looked good, something was off. The red brick fireplace went from looking a little rough to looking flat out DINGY. It took me all of 3 seconds to decide that the fireplace had to be painted white. A few days later and a couple of coats on the fireplace and things immediately looked so much brighter and cleaner! We also were able to repurpose a shelf that had been hanging on the wall into a mantel for the fireplace. Hooray - brand new fireplace!

We finished painting the rest of the room with the aqua on the walls and the chocolate on the floor. We began painting the bifold doors a bright white and painted the trim a matching white. Chris (my hubby and in house worker man) took the sink off of the vanity and put a thick piece of ply wood on the top of the vanity so we could use it as a countertop in the laundry area. I've been using it to store our laundry baskets and once I hang a rod will use the adjoining countertop as a folding area. All of the built in closets and the ceilings were painted in the wall color to try and minimize all of the weird angles and heights in the room. Once all of the wall and floor painting was done we went back to the Rehabitat store and bought some of the (don't judge) industrial plastic floor trim in white. Although I am the first to admit that plastic floor trim isn't the height of sophistication I will also admit that occasionally my basement leaks. When that happens I don't want it to happen with wood floor trim, so I'll be a little ghetto with my plastic floor trim.

There is one more area that I want to highlight in the basement makeover before I get to the photos: lighting. As previously mentioned there were THREE florescent work lights in the basement. They are HIDEOUS. We talked about a couple of different options but in the end did something a little creative and went with lamp shades. Yes, we used plain lampshades with big light bulbs and made our own very inexpensive light fixtures. For under $10 each they are a perfect touch!

The only after photos I have right now are actually from the bridal shower, so here are a few more bridal shower pictures, but mostly look at the fabulous new basement! (hopefully soon I'll be able to show actual basement photos!) And now without further adu here is our new basement:

Views from the outside door looking in & the garage side looking in.  You can see a couple of our lampshade lightfixtures as well as our total paint job.
This photo is from the fireplace side looking towards the laundry side.  I LOVE how you can't see the laundry machines!
Close up of the bifold door screens.

Photos of the fireplace, mantel, and cord hiding.  At the top of the fireplace is a board that is running the length of the fireplace wall about 6 inches or so down.  It is painted the same color as the walls but serves as a hiding place for all the hideous wires that are hanging from the ceiling that we couldn't remove or box in.  The paper banners are actually hanging from this 'ledge'.
Close up of the fireplace and repurposed mantel.
Far away shot of the fireplace side.

I hope you enjoyed your pseudo-tour of my unfinished finished basement.  My apologies for the party pics, I will try and get actual basement photos soon.  Additionally I now hate blogger and their weird formatting because I can't get my photos or text aligned the way it needs to, so please ignore the weird formatting.


  1. So much work, but so rewarding.

  2. This looks like such an enjoyable space now - you guys put a lot of work into that!

  3. perfect shower!!! :) lovely basement project!