it’s time: basement reveal!

some seven months after i tentatively pried some wood panelling from a brick pillar, our basement is done — at least until it’s reduced to dirt and sand at the hands of an underpinning company, but who knows when that will come to pass.

i’ve got to admit, i really did have no idea what i was getting us into with this one. and had i known, i might have thought better of the whole idea. not that we’re not really excited to have a whole other floor to our little house, but thinking back on the past seven months… well, it seems even worse in retrospect, which is saying something. my mind won’t even let itself linger on the process long enough to describe it to you, that’s how traumatic this whole thing was. it makes me wonder if we even have the stomach for a much more involved, inconvenient, and intrusive renovation, which the big dig will definitely be.

it’s with a big sigh of relief that i present these after photos. but, let’s warm up with these before photos:



and then, there’s a whole lot of in-between photos. here are some of the scariest:

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with 1,600 lbs of wood and debris piled to one side, i really just wanted to go back, back, back to before i’d peeked behind that first piece of wood panelling, but the only way through was forward. there was no putting this mess back together again, unless i ripped it fully apart first.

fast-forward seven months, about $5,000, and hundreds of laborious hours that all kind of bleed together, and here’s where things ended up:

basement laundryIMG_2996IMG_2995IMG_2989IMG_2991IMG_2797IMG_2998IMG_3001

hope that wasn’t too underwhelming for you. this is still an unfinished basement — rafters, electrical, the hot water tank, a cement floor — but this is as finished as unfinished gets! everything (floors, walls) has been painted twice, and the laundry area has leaped ahead in the cleanliness category. you no longer have to put something back in the wash if you accidentally drop it on the floor, and no more fluorescent lighting! (this cute ranarp pendant instead.) i love the shelf best, and the laundry sink in which we can actually wash clothing.


this is the corner where i began, once all the walls were down. i built that window frame! i felt this corner had promise, and i could see the end product in my mind’s eye, a vision that kind of kept me going, even when it seemed unwise to carry on. sometimes i think the whole basement renovation came about because i really wanted to make flour sac curtains, and had no little windows upstairs to do so on.


more flour sacs! and pierre did such a great job with the lights, albeit accidentally. screw pot lights, for which you need this pesky thing called a ceiling.


this rug really kicked off a few manic weeks of buying rugs — four navajo-like rugs are now in the basement, with this one being the most expensive, at $125. cheapest was $2, with the others coming in at $5 and $70, respectively. yes, i ended up doing away with the blue and gold turkish rug, and i’m working on selling it; it was just not right.


that’s the $2 rug. right behind a $400 custom tv console from guff, but that’s the way this house is — some pretty expensive pieces (though, in many peoples’ universes $400 on a piece of furniture is still peanuts) hanging out with a whole lot of homemade things and stuff i found on someone’s driveway. (the $2 rug being one such driveway find.)


one terrible light fixture remains, but one out of ten ain’t bad.

race bib artgormblue metal drawers

this is our little storage area. we don’t have much in the way of extra stuff, but we do stockpile almond butter when it’s on sale, and i haven’t gotten around to going totally paperless with documents. anything that comes in the mail, is related to the government, the house, or is otherwise masquerading as important, goes in a box. and those boxes require pretty pine shelves.


this is the $5 rug. it awaits the perfect, counter-height table as a finishing touch, which we will find one day when we’re not looking too hard. we discovered a contender this past week while we were away in the county, but it was ultimately too small, just 18″ wide, when we’re looking for something in the neighbourhood of 3′ x 3′.


and that’s the basement! even though i’ve been seeing it come together, slowly, on a daily basis, i’m surprised and pleased that it actually turned out to closely resemble the picture i’ve held in my head for the last year (because before we got started, i felt i knew what the basement could look like if only i was allowed to be let loose with a paintbrush and pry bar). lots of surprises (those hardwood floors!) and spiders along the way, plus i’ve probably inhaled enough fumes to kill someone twice my size, but there’s nothing quite like curling up with a documentary on netflix in the comfort of your own home. we have a tv now! there’s this thing called netflix! i’m amazed at the post-2009 possibilities.

so, obviously there were lots of other posts about the basement over the last year. if you haven’t been following along in gory detail, just search “basement” on the right there, or check out categories like bungalow; handmade; and lost, now found for pertinent updates on how, you too, can make your own asymmetrical swedish flag to hide all your power tools.

 finally, was it worth it? here’s a look at the budget:

  • all the little stuff (paint supplies, lumber, nails and screws, plate covers, l-brackets, etc.): $400
  • paint and primer: $215
  • dumpster: $300
  • floor sealant, top ‘n’ bond, and epoxy paint: $280
  • furniture: $2060
  • lighting: $362
  • television: $800
  • laundry sink and some more little stuff: $140
  • pine shelving: $110
  • rugs: $337
  • antler: $110

that’s a grand total of $5,114 and many, many hours of pro-bono labour. certainly the monetary investment was worth it — we couldn’t buy a house exactly like ours but with an extra level of living space for +$5,000, and i’m guessing a prospective buyer might tack on an extra $5,000 to their offer price since our basement no longer looks like the basement from home alone. plus, i got to put up some flour sac curtains, our house now has super-old flooring, and exposed brick. worth it.

5 thoughts on “it’s time: basement reveal!

  1. It took us about the same amount of time to renovate a small bathroom, and I can relate to every feeling you’ve described in this post. I thought it was going to be much easier than it ended up being, and even though it needed to be done and I’m glad we did it, I still don’t have fond feelings about it (even 3 years later!). Your sitting area looks really cozy and the laundry area very functional. I say you’ve earned some time to kick back and enjoy it. 🙂

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