overdue finished basement before & afters

i was working on posting some pictures of an art project i did for a wall in the basement, when i realized i never really posted a finished-finished basement update. i tried to a while ago, but the post is all busted now and the pictures don’t show up (a little example of my advanced technological blogging skillz).

so here are those before and afters. this was the biggest, most expensive process we have been through as homeowners (by far) and it was so rewarding. when we moved in, this was a moldy mess.. we had to have a professional remediation just for it to be safe to be in our house (to the tune of $2k to un-finish the basement.. fun!) but now we have this huge new living space and its just nice knowing its all clean and dry.

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the new bedroom (you can get a peak through the doorway above) is in pretty good shape as well. i’ll share some pictures of that soon.

the only furniture we have bought for down here (still to this day) is the black craigslisted couch, the two side tables from target and the little rocker from amazon. 

the rug is from amazon too if that counts… the bulldog is from hinsdale. 

the wall color is benjamin moore revere pewter.

this is what we’re looking like now that the plastic has invaded… in need of some toy storage! but i’m in no rush. i think we need some time to live down here to see what the best layout and use of space will be. we want to have a little exercise area and an art station somewhere for dane…

that’s all for now, more soon!

keeping on

hi. i’m back.. the past 1.5 months have been… challenging… wonderful… exhausting.
i go through phases. i think i’ve mentioned this before. some mornings i’ll drink a coffee and feel this overwhelming surge of creative energy where i have to paint something or clean up part of a room to take pictures or surf pinterest aimlessly. other times it all feels so… stupid. for lack of a better word, its sort of stupid to take photos of rooms in your house and put them on the internet when you have a million more important things to do. and even when i don’t, sometimes i just don’t feel it. when i’m super busy at work (lately) or stressed about time, money, schedules (lately as well) i can’t find the energy to chit chat about washi tape and glitter. at the same time, deep down, i love this stuff and wish i could keep the ball rolling here on my little interweb.

not to mention i lost my camera battery charger for a week or two again then found it over the weekend in a very obvious place. OY.

so here we go- here is how the basement tv area has shaped up so far. pardon the glare on the tv screen, its bad.

so the rug and the cool rocking chair are from amazon (affiliate links on my side bar shopping list  thingy >>>)

shakey still doesn’t love it down here. ok, he hates it and we basically have to carry him down the stairs. its going to be the coolest place to hang out this summer, so we need to figure out a way to change his mind.

these side tables are target gems.

rest assured, this floor is otherwise dane land. 

he’s had a lot of fun down here already! there is zero organization or order or plan for either, but we are more than ok with that.

same goes for my “super-chic bedroom” down here. for the unforeseeable future, it will remain the tiger’s lair and jungle gym.

wallpapered cabinet doors

we got the upgraded cabinet doors back on the built-ins just in time for dane’s party.

when our contractor left, they were in need of some serious attention.

i wanted to add texture, but keep it white and simple. here is my inspiration —

i used martha stewart beadboard wallpaper to try to copy this vibe (in an easy and cheap sorta way). this textured, paintable wallpaper is genius. there are all sorts of patterns and widths and designs, its the perfect diy-on-a-dime medium.
these are a few in-progress pictures i took with my iphone. the first one is my “model” (its a creative process, people!) the second shows how we were playing around with wrapping the wallpaper around the cabinet doors and making sure they lined up (which was a little more difficult than we thought).

once we had the pattern lined up best we could, we cut it to size using a mat cutting razor. next, we smeared the door with wallpaper glue and slid the piece into place.

the final step was cutting two extra pieces for each diagonal, uncovered corner (not pictured). when the faces of the cabinet doors were fully wallpapered, mike gave them each two coats of the ultra white semi-gloss valspar paint we used on the rest of the shelves.
the doors don’t hang perfectly and i wish i thought to spray the hinges to match the new hardware, but i’m over it. the result is just what i had in mind and i’m happy.

the ring pulls are the same ones we used in the nightstand makeover last fall. quite the improvement i’d say!

i am counting down the days until mike must pass along his elaborate fantasy football trophy to last season’s new winner. i’m told this happens at the next draft. i am so outnumber by all these boys in my house.

the rest of the shelves are not quite presentable yet. i do not plan on making a big fuss about the “styling” or spending more than a few dollars on fluff for them, but i would like to put a little effort toward a little “reveal” for the memory books… potentially i can work around my TWO bridal showers and make it a weekend project!

oh and TGI freaking F.

finished, carpeted, so on and so forth

i’m trying extra hard to keep up with life this week… i can’t complain because it is due in part to a completely self-indulgent weekend i just spent in miami for a girlfriend’s bachelorette party. (and it was fun. so fun.) but of course this week i am just feeling a little behind, a little short on sleep, and entirely unprepared for my baby boy to turn 2. (update: it happened. this post took me all week to turn-around!)
this carpet went in a couple weeks ago, so i want to finally put up the latest round of pictures. as you can see, it is very dark with a peppery mix of brown and black. its not what i would choose for a photo shoot or a show house by any means, but for practical reasons such as muddy paws and sticky toddler fingers, i am happy with this choice.

here are the much-more-welcoming stairs —

and the nice, big, empty room featuring our new $300 craigslist leather couch–

the almost-done built-ins–

for which we found a way to make these glorious ikea ranarp clamp spotlights work. these things were $20 each!–

the lower cabinet doors are still in progress–

i decided to leave the back of the built-ins as-is. the wood grain is so beautiful, it was a no-brainer. we are still researching the best way to seal/protect the wood–

these pictures were taken after work one evening… 6ish? and there is still a decent flow of natural light through the doors–

this is one of the better photos in terms of true paint color and minimal fill-light used in my editing. and look at the pretty ceiling–

still very little progress in the bedroom, but its about ready to actually be made into a bedroom… excitement!
the view looking out–
and of course some toys have already found their way down here… i am going to add a little curtain rod to this closet (slash-parking garage) for easy in & out–

our treadmill will go over here–

behind these double doors is unfinished work/storage space–

that’s a wrap!

dane had a tough run of sniffles and fevers the past couple weeks, but he is so much better now and rearing to go for his family birthday party this weekend.

built in-spiration

slowly, the built-ins are looking a little more built and a little more in. the most notable update is the chunky wood frame around the fireplace.

here it is a few days ago pre-frame:

and now after our neighbor framed it with some pine floor boards he had left over from a previous project. it will really highlight the fireplace once everything (especially doors on either side) is/are painted.

what to do with the back of the shelves is keeping me up at night… stephanie 6 months ago would be painting it all a bold, contrasting color for sure. but stephanie today is way more into white, neutral, natural.. and speaking in the third person.

here are a couple of my favorite built-in pins. are they telling me to paint that back wall blue/grey?


let’s flash back to when we first bought the house. can you believe it?  this red wall makes no sense. the built-in white tv window-thing is oddly off-center and.. my gosh these colors.. also please note the closet door to the left that was just chopped off at the bottom. this is something..

so, even under construction, it is so rewarding to see the difference.

i have plans for these doors. they will be white like the rest of the unit, but i’ll be attempting to add texture and interest with a little scheme i dreamed up.

and new hardware. stat.

basement built-ins and fireplace

in the planning stages we made a list of needs, wants, and would-be-nices. a ventless gas fireplace to cozy things up was in the would-be-nice category. the more the idea marinated, the more we decided we really wanted it and should invest in it now while everything is being ripped apart and put back together. how glorious is this set-up below? you would never know you’re in a basement.


we researched and shopped and discussed with our contractor and the all-in price tag for the fireplace would be somewhere in the ungodly neighborhood of 6k-8k (for the unit, the gas line, the labor, etc etc). absolutely out of the question. we were sad. then we thought outside the box and researched electric fireplaces. sounds lame and fake, but after seeing some of the technology out there, it was clear that we could get the same warm, cozy glow for way way way less with one of these units that plugs right into an outlet.

we wanted an insert to go inside the built-in unit. we kept coming back to this same dimplex model.


i like the “linear” look (as its called in the industry). at 50″ long, it will really make a statement in the unit under the tv. the going rate for these is about $1400. not cheap, but not $8k either. it was doable. i shopped around (these are sold by a number of vendors). and bought one on sale with an additional 5% off (and free shipping).
BLF50 Dimplex Linear Wall-Mount Electric Fireplace
$1,199.99 x 1

Subtotal: $1,199.99
Discount: $60.00
Shipping: $0.00
Sales Tax: $0.00
Total: $1,139.99

i was pretty pleased with myself. funny how looking at the cost of the gas version made this feel like a steal (while it is really still so much $$!).

if you are an amazon person, like me, they also carry the same dimplex model (here).

the guys are working on this now, so when i am back from vacation, i should be able to show you how it becomes a reality!

by the way, if any burglars are reading, my sister will be house sitting all week with our fierce bulldog. and she has guns.

oh god am i going to miss this pup.

1. lighting
2. ceiling
3. fireplace
4. built-ins
5. paint
6. carpet