a garden party in my basement

when i removed all the ceiling tiles in the basement, i left our 1990s can-style potlights swinging from the rafters — the ceiling tiles had been holding them in place, and hiding some of their hideousness. neither pierre nor i know the first thing about electrical (as an adult, i stuck a fork in a toaster to retrieve a piece of bread and did not know that was a thing one is not supposed to do until my roommate, mouth agape, was like, what are you doing?) and we’re the last people who should be messing around with potlights, ugly as they may be. but i wanted them gone.

IMG_2517so, against his better judgment, pierre agreed to rewire a light switch downstairs, put the potlights out of their misery, and contribute money towards a 100′ strand of industrial string lights. which have now replaced the potlights, giving the basement a warm, twinkly, garden party glow.


these are the same lights that we ordered from sival lighting for our backyard screening of wet hot american summer last august. except this time we ordered a double-length strand and two boxes of globe bulbs. this way, when we do the basement for real in a few years, these lights won’t go to waste — we can use them outside. having 150′ worth of string lights (75 bulbs) lighting up your backyard is totally normal bbq protocol, right?  IMG_2641IMG_2644

even though these are plug-in lights, we have them operating on a switch. my brilliant and handsome husband figured out how to rewire the junction box, light switch, and an outlet that we had so that these would function like a normal overhead light.

the process was not without its christmas vacation moments, complete with tripping the breaker and total befuddlement as to why the switch wasn’t doing anything. Christmas-Vacation-Clark-Griswold-Lights

but after resigning himself to the fact that he’d have to spend several more hours tinkering, pierre tried one little thing (plugging the male end of the plug into the top socket instead of the bottom) and we were in business. (unlike in the movie, however, there was no drumroll — only pierre wearing safety goggles as he flipped the switch in case all the lightbulbs exploded, and me, watching from the safety of the stairs.)

the basement to-do list is getting shorter, even though the space may still not look like much. pierre describes it as a “time pit,” as we keep putting in the hours and oftentimes don’t feel like the basement looks any different than it did in january.

i’d like to be quasi-done before the really nice weather arrives, but i’ve got a lot going on in the next couple of months (just four more weeks of school!) and some of our progress depends on the nicer weather arriving. (as in, we can’t patch or paint the cement floors until it’s 15°C in our basement.) but here are our marching orders for the next few months:

  1. finish painting “walls.” i’m working my way around and almost at the furnace, but it’s slow-going
  2. patch large-ish divots in the cement floor (we went through a whole bag of top ‘n’ bond already…)
  3. paint cement floors using a 2-part epoxy / garage floor-type product
  4. purchase a cheap but decent-looking storage system (i’m leaning towards gorm?) and find a home for all our tools and everything else currently sitting on the floor
  5. give the hardwood floor a good cleaning and a second coat of polyurethane
  6. tile the laundry area? pierre is anti-this, and thinks it’s “going too far” for our temp basement. i didn’t think so in november, but now i’m not so sure. maybe a burlap runner would suffice? let’s see if i’m unemployed this summer; maybe i’ll learn to tile if i am
  7. the fun stuff! we’ll need furniture, rugs, and art, so there are summer drives out to ontario barns to look forward to

cool guys. thanks for reading. i really hope this lower level ends up being worth the time and effort.

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