I suppose I really should have called this “Basement Progress: Part 1” because I am planning on sharing much more but this will be a good start. I am sharing a TON of photos and information today because we have made a lot of progress on our biggest project yet and I haven’t had a chance to share! But this is good because I’ve learned a lot so far and am excited to tell you all of the details as we go.
First of all, we have been wanting to finish our basement for a few years now. Our oldest son is 15 and we have noticed that the houses that he and his friends hang out in are the ones with a finished basement where they can hang out and have a space all to themselves. We want our house to be the house they want to hang out in! But here they would either be around where the family is (not that fun for a bunch of teenage boys) or cramped up in his room. Neither one is a great option so they always end up somewhere else. Boo. So we put a financial plan in action and started thinking seriously about having our basement finished! It’s an “if you build it, they will come” kind of a thing going on over here. 🙂
So, a couple of things to think about if you’re in the same boat. 1) Are you handy enough/knowledgeable enough/willing enough to finish your basement yourself? If so, this post is not for you as we are none of those things. Ha! Really. I can spray paint a picture frame and build some floating shelves but finish an entire basement? No way. And my husband (bless his heart) is not handy at all. This left us with the option of hiring it out. Now, we COULD have been our own general contractors which would have saved us some money but I really felt like, for us, that might have led to a lot of headache and problems. We would have had to figure out the order of operations to finish a basement (gag) and THEN we would have had to bid out every phase with different contractors (framing, plumbing, electrical, dry wall, etc). Plus, we would have needed to get materials delivered (and know how much to order!) and all that jazz. We have a friend who is in construction that kind of scared us straight on thinking we might general it all ourselves. After he told us everything that went into it we knew it would be way above our abilities. We didn’t let it hurt our self-esteem or anything though, so don’t you worry about us. 🙂
We did, however, have our construction friend recommend a couple of construction friends of his who he would trust to have come do his basement if he ever needed them to. So my next tip is to ASK AROUND A LOT! Ever since we started thinking we wanted to do this in our home we have talked to everyone and anyone who has finished their basement. We got names of basement finishing companies and got lots and lots of quotes. It’s a little annoying but we had a magic number in mind and we wanted to stick to it. Patience is key. So when our buddy recommended a couple of guys we had them come in and bid it out as well. And guess what we realized? Those basement finishing companies are so over-priced! We found that the individual guys who have their own construction company (usually a one man show) are much lower in price because they don’t have a ton of expenses that a big company might. Our neighbors finished their basement just a few months before we started and they went with a big company. They had a porta potty out front, a giant dumpster in front of their house, different trucks and crews going in and out all the time… it was a zoo! We ended up going with Wes of White River Construction Corp. here in Colorado and it has been dreamy! He has done almost all the work himself, is so laid back and easy to work with and he has become a good friend of ours. It has been awesome! So Tip #3 here is to make sure you find someone who fits your personality. This will make all the little decisions and adjustments you have to make along the way so much easier. We have talked many times about how hiring Wes over some impersonal basement company was, by far, our best decision. And, as a bonus, he was a good chunk of change lower than any basement company!
By the way, I had used an app on my iPad called LivingRoom to lay out how I wanted the basement. Due to where the windows were and all of that it was fairly easy to figure out where things needed to go! This made it so easy to get accurate bids and eventually, for Wes to start working on it!
Ok, ok, enough chit chat… are you ready to see what our basement used to look like? I can’t even believe it’s the same space we have now.
Ugh! Hoarders much? When a basement is just one big giant unfinished space it’s waaaay too easy to just throw stuff down there with the idea that down there “it isn’t hurting anything.”
Nothing was organized and we had kept so much crap that we absolutely did NOT need anymore! I used to tell my husband that the bad energy feng shui coming up through the floor boards into the rest of the house was not good. And I don’t even really believe in Feng Shui. 🙂 The kids would play down there sometimes and make an even bigger mess (if that is possible) and I just stopped trying after a few years.
Finishing a Basement: Let’s Do This
So, needless to say, OUR biggest part to all of this was to get our hoarderific basement cleaned out and emptied to start construction! I would say that we either sold, donated or threw away 50% of our stuff from down there. When it was emptied I may have shed a tear or two… or a hundred. It was glorious. I mean look at the space after!
Don’t you love that red spray paint “stencil?” Yes, I did some projects down here in the dead of winter. I couldn’t just NOT spray paint! 🙂
And did you even KNOW we had a furnace and water heater right there? I barely knew. For real.
So you’re probably wondering where all of our stuff (that we are keeping) went. Well, some of the stuff that we didn’t trust to leave our climate controlled house is up in the upstairs of our home being super annoying. It’s under beds, in corners, behind the living room couch, in my husband’s office, etc. The rest we decided to put into a POD. These things are amazing! They dropped off the POD, we took our time filling it up, and then they came back and got it to put in their warehouse until we need it back. So amazing! It did cost us a little more than if we would have gotten a storage unit or, of course, if we would have just filled our garage with it, but it was worth it to us to either a) not have to take a million trips to a storage unit or b) have to park our cars outside and be totally inconvenienced. So there you go.
And then the basement finish officially started! We (well, Wes) got it all underway in mid-May. He spent a couple of weeks framing it all out by himself. It was fun to go down every day and see how the walls were shaping up!
As we got into it, there were a few things that needed to be modified from my original plan. Placement of pipes that couldn’t be moved, vents that blocked things, etc. made it so we needed to either get creative or let something go. Tip #4 is to make sure you are flexible! I really wanted to do a sliding barn door rather than a regular door for our finished storage area but due to a giant HVAC channel there wouldn’t be enough clearance right there to do one. I was so bummed! But you know, that is just how it goes. And, of course, having a regular door there isn’t going to kill me (I think).
Here is the bathroom getting all framed out. So fun!
Here is a view looking at the door to the bedroom. This was a great example of getting creative. There was a support pole there that jogged out from where we wanted the wall. So we put the door on the other side of the pole and Wes suggested that was just build out a “box” on the other side of the door similar to the box he had to put around that support pole to make it look like we did it on purpose! Now it’s a nice little entry way into the bedroom and you’d never even know it was to hide a pole.
Now, I’ve had to keep in mind this whole time that it is “just a basement” and I really needed to be conscious of the budget and not do anything crazy down there. BUT we do want it to be a nice space that we WANT to be in, right? So I didn’t want to go too bare bones with the whole thing. The one kind of “special” feature that I REALLY wanted was a double sided gas fireplace that would go in between the family room and guest bedroom. I just thought that would be the perfect touch to make it a truly special space down there. Plus our basement is COLD all year long (even in the summer) which is great when it’s hot outside but if it’s cold I wanted an easy way to cozy it up down there!
After doing a lot of Pinterest-ing (it’s a verb), I finally sketched out how I wanted the fireplace to look on the family room side….
and the guest room side (below). It’s obviously not perfect or some kind of architectural masterpiece or anything but when I showed it to Wes he was like “yeah, sure, we can do that.” Yay! This is when his laid back approach was particularly perfect. 🙂
We got the gas fireplace (at Spa Brokers) and Wes framed it all out how I wanted it. Since the steel support beam goes above it it’s not quite as tall as I was thinking so I’ll probably only have one shelf on each side above the cabinet but that is still awesome. I really was just wanting a raised hearth that could be used for extra seating in that room and to put luggage on in the guest room. I’m super excited about two new mantels to decorate too!
Here is the guest room side.
So then, a couple of weeks ago we headed out to Utah for about 10 days and when we got home… ba-BAM! The drywall was up! Wes had had all of the framing, electrical and plumbing inspections done and then brought in a drywall crew that he knew and trusted and they got this up in 2 days! What a difference some actual walls made to the overall feel of the place!
We are planning on wrapping that steel beam in wood, just FYI. And this is the kitchenette area.
I’m so excited for how the bathroom is shaping up!
One thing we had done before we left town was to have a home theater guy from Best Buy come out and give us some advice, tips, information on equipment for our TV and stuff we want to put in down there. One thing he advised us to do (since he was there pre-drywall), was to put a plug up high where we were going to be hanging our TV and then to put a PVC pipe in the wall from up where the TV will be down to where the components will be to run our cords. I had seen this before but was so glad that he reminded us to do that! It was such an easy job to do when the drywall wasn’t even up yet and will make such a difference when we are installing all of the electronics! Dangling cords are super annoying and ugly.
And now this is pretty much how it looks today. As of last week the walls were taped, mudded and texturized and then Wes went over it all with a primer/sealer to make sure it all stayed in place.
And see that pile there on the right? That is tile.. GLORIOUS TILE! Here is what we are putting in our bathroom as well as on the floor of our kitchenette area.
Shower floor= hexagon white carrera marble
Shower walls= 12×24 white carrara marble tiles, stacked and staggered like subway tile.
Bathroom floor and kitchenette floor= Wood plank ceramic tile called KIVU CENIZA.
I’m so excited I can hardly stand it! And just FYI, if you have a Floor & Decor near you, that is the place to go! It was almost half the price of anywhere else I looked for the exact same stuff! That wood plank ceramic tile was only $1.59 a square foot. Ridiculous prices, I’m telling you! Be sure to check it out if you have the need.
We are also doing a herringbone patterned white carrera marble tile around the fireplace on the family room side as well so that should be awesome when it gets put up!
I am so happy with how this has gone so far and where we are now. All of the “boring stuff” (aka, plumbing, electrical, walls) is done and now we are onto the finish work which is where the details really make the space! Do you know how many fun DIY projects I’ve got planned for down there? Well, it’s a lot, just so you know.
If you’ve read this entire post then you deserve a medal or something! Thanks for sticking with me!
Here is my next post with all of the updates, finish work and details! See how it all came together!