I already shared a few house projects we had to wrap up before we moved out of our townhouse back in January: painting the periwinkle bathroom, and replacing the car-sized roof antenna. Gosh it felt good to finish them!

The last lingering project we had to finally wrap up was the basement.  Husband did a huge overhaul the summer of 2008, but there were some things that needing to be finished before our renters could move in!

But , before I get to that, I realized I never shared a word about the basement, so this post will be all about what he did back in 2008!

When we moved into the house in early 2007, the basement was a blank white space.  It was freshly carpeted and painted and just bursting with possibilities!  It was also a really large room (~19’x19′).

looking at the basement from the back corner

Although it was “fine”, we wanted to spruce it up a bit.  As you can see, it had a lovely drop ceiling with those speckle-y, hole-y tiles that reminded me of high school…

the front corner

…cheap paneled walls that had been painted white…and all the outlets were old school brown…

the psychadelic "light box"

…and this totally bizarre “light box”…  I guess they thought that a clever way to add more light to the room would be to put 2 vertical fluorescent lights under the window well and cover it with opaque, yellowing plastic.  It was so weird.  SO WEIRD.

Husband had great vision for this space: a home theater.  But he couldn’t tackle it right away.  A few months after we moved in, he took a year-long jaunt in the desert, and the basement was used for storage and a walk-through to the laundry room.

But when he got back [mid-2008], he got to work!  This was the plan:

  • Cover the cheesy paneled walls with 1/4″ drywall
  • Remove the light box and turn it into a bookshelf (since it was built into the drop ceiling)
  • Change out the high school ceiling tiles with prettier, more inconspicuous tiles
  • Wire the room for a ceiling-mounted projector and a 7-point surround sound system
  • Only spend a grand total of $1500 on the whole project, including the electronics

Ironically, the weekend he got started, we had a MASSIVE rainstorm – like 2 inches per hour.  Our window well decided to fill up and start pouring into the basement!  I was out in my wellies with a pitcher bailing it out as he pulled back the carpet and started wet vac-ing the floor!

We’re actually super thankful the rainstorm happened, because though we never previously had water issues in the year and a half we’d been in the house, he decided to pull off the paneling around the window well and found this:

after pulling back the carpet and pulling off some of the paneling


We discovered that there had been infrequent water damage over the years behind the paneling – enough to rot a lot of the furring strips and make us nervous about future mold once the drywall went up.

So Husband ripped out all the rotten wood…

what a man!

lots of gross wood

…and then did some research on how to prevent water damage in the future.  What he ended up doing was:

  • Coat the floor/wall edges, corners, and small cracks with a waterproofing basement cement to keep water from coming in.
  • Pull back the carpet more and paint the floor and cleared (and thoroughly dried) walls with vats basement water sealant paint.  He did several coats of the noxious paint, ensuring that no seepage would come in through the floor or cinder blocks.
  • Replace the wooden furring strips with rot-proof, mildew-/mold-proof, plastic composite furring strips, screwed directly into the cinder blocks.
  • Use 1/2″ greenboard (what you use in bathrooms) that is mildew- and mold-proof so that any future water would not harm the walls.  [Note: He used 1/2″ greenboard because the rest of the walls had the 1/4″ paneling covered by 1/4″ drywall (total 1/2″), so they had to meet up evenly – what a smart fella!]

The water kind of threw a wrench in things, but again we were so glad to address it before covering it up with drywall.  Once he was done with the water issue, he got to work on the rest of the basement:

…replacing the ceiling tiles…

much better

…cutting a hole in the wall for the electronics: receiver, DVD player, AppleTV, XBOX 360, TiVo, battery backup, etc….

where the electronics would go

…finish installing the 1/4″ drywall over the paneling, putting up beadboard, replacing trim and wiring the room for the projector and speakers.  [I wish I had more pics of these steps but this was pre-blog stage!!!]

Here is the basement after we painted it a deep, chocolate brown, perfect for cozying up to a movie.  Although you might think that brown in a basement would make it feel really small, the white beadboard helped lighten and brighten when we weren’t using the projector.

almost all done!

My parents very generously gave us the sectional sofa that was previously in the Bay House, and let me tell you, this thing fit PERFECTLY in the space!

the light box turned bookshelf

Husband lined the back of the former funkadelic light box with beadboard, then added shelves and trim so we could store our DVDs and whatnot…and let in a little natural light from the window well!

the movie wall

We left the “screen wall” painted a matte white.  We had wanted to do a true pull-down screen, but they can run in the range of $1000, so we decided to leave it as is, with the option of adding it in later.

The screen literally took up that whole wall: 144 diagonal inches of TV and movie viewing joy.  🙂

can you see Husband standing up on the right?

This is a terrible picture but it kind of shows the sheer scale of the screen!  It’s about 3″ above the wall register and about 3″ below the bump down in the ceiling.  Huge.  Can you say man cave?!?!

the electronics box

In the cut out he did for housing the electronics, Husband installed basic louvered brackets on which a piece of wood for each component could sit.  He made it adjustable like this so we could add or subtract components over time.

Pretty great transformation, huh?

It may look somewhat finished in these pics, but it wasn’t.  It was SO CLOSE TO BEING DONE!  But then Husband had to start up work again and other things took priority so the little things remained undone like:

  • The brown outlets needed to be switched out for white ones and the casings needed to be made flush with the addition of the 1/4″ drywall…
  • The ceiling tiles requiring special cuts needed to be cut…
  • The tiles under the “boobie lights” (HAHA) needed to be cut…
  • The crown molding needed to be done…
  • Vertical slats needed to be installed on the railing to prevent little people from falling through and to bring it up to code…
  • Some sort of trim needed to be installed going up the stairs…
  • The electronics box needed to be painted, the wood pieces cut so they were flush with the front of the box, and some sort of a “backer” needed to be installed so we weren’t looking into the storage room through the box…

Isn’t it so true that once a space becomes “liveable” that those nagging little projects get overlooked?

Well with renters moving in, we had to get someone in to finish up these projects…stay tuned for the final reveal!