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Basement Renovation Phase One -by amber's hands-

Major project alert! For the last several months, we’ve been working on phase one of our basement renovation, and I thought it was time to show you the progress! We’re far from being finished, but this is a major step in getting the whole thing done.

Basement Renovation

A basement renovation has been on our list for a long time, but it’s been a challenge to get started for several reasons. The main challenges being that a.) we’re doing it all ourselves, and b.) we are still having to use the space while we’re renovating.

The basement was partially finished when we bought the house, but like many things that were done to this house, it was done poorly.

For more evidence of this, see my post on redoing our deck.

The first few years we lived here, the basement was really only used for storage and laundry. But once the kids got old enough, we needed a playroom space. So our plan for renovating had to include keeping some area for them throughout the whole process.

Before we get into what we did, let’s talk about what we started with.

Before – Playroom:

This first room is the area you come into when you come down the stairs. It was the most properly finished area, so it became the play room. The entire basement has large carpet remnants patchworked together over the concrete floor.

Note the toys on the floor, and the sagging couch from my college days.

This room is a strange L-shape because there was a bathroom added in this corner. The bathroom is its own post for another day. It was frightening.

We had our TV set up in this area, as well as some Ikea Kallax shelves where we stored the toys.

Notice also, the bizarre partial wall next to the window. I have no answers for any questions regarding that.

On the other side of this room was a wall dividing this area from a larger, less finished area.

Before – Larger Room:

This area had drywall on half of it. However, it wasn’t the same thickness as the other room. So at the same level of the dividing wall, the shared wall took a step down. Just for kicks, I guess.

This room had no electrical outlets in the walls. In fact, the walls were made too thin to run electrical work at all. Contrast this to the smaller room, which had an outlet every two feet across the whole wall.

As you can see, the area on the other side of the beam was totally unfinished. Also this area was full of all kinds of junk.

The first thing that was necessary before we could start anything was to get some inexpensive Ikea shelving.

If we were hiring out this renovation job, we could’ve put our junk in storage for a short time period. But since we’re doing it ourselves, that just wasn’t an option.

Because of where the ductwork is, we’re planning to make that area storage closets anyway. This just gives us some space while we do the other parts of the project.

Here’s a look at the other side of the room, looking back on the dividing wall.

The overall plan is to turn the larger area into the playroom/family room with a wet bar, and make the smaller room into my new work space which will double as a space for guests.


The first step in phase one was to tear down the too-shallow walls so we could do them properly with insulation and electrical work.

At this point we also had to deal with repairing some old water damage on the walls.

But the biggest change was tearing out the dividing wall between the two spaces.

Basement Renovation Phase One -by amber's hands-

This made the space feel so much bigger. We also tore out the old ceiling in both areas.

At this point, we got rid of the broken college couch and moved in the somewhat-less-broken sectional that used to be in the upstairs living room to create a playroom space again.

Then we hired a friend to frame out the new walls in the larger area. Then we ran electrical work for new outlets, put up new drywall, and painted.


Basement Renovation Phase One -by amber's hands-

And here’s what it looks like now!

This is still all temporary at the moment. We still have to redo the floor, so we haven’t installed anything permanently yet. But this is the general idea of what this space will look like.

Basement Renovation Phase One -by amber's hands-

The bookshelves are Ikea Billy bookcases (in two sizes,) and we got the electric fireplace from Wayfair. When we install it all permanently, we’ll trim out the bookshelves to create a built-in look.

I’m still playing around with what I want to have on the shelves. My goal is to find a nice balance between form and function. A lot of shelves I see on Pinterest are pretty, but I’m not interested in buying a bunch more stuff that doesn’t serve a purpose. As you can see from the “before” pictures, we have plenty of stuff we don’t need.

Thankfully, we have gotten rid of a good percentage of stuff that was on the other side of the larger space. But not enough yet.

In phase two of our basement renovation, we’ll be working on the ceiling, adding an egress window, finishing up some more drywall, and laying flooring.

Phew. I’d better roll up my sleeves!

Phase One of our DIY basement renovation is complete! See how we're doing it all ourselves while living here and still needing the space! #basement #renovation #DIY #homeimprovement #builtins #electricfireplace #familyroom #playroom
We're renovating our basement ourselves. It's slow but we're getting there. See how Phase One has turned out and how we're coping with having to still use the space during the renovation. #basement #renovation #DIY #homeimprovement #builtins #electricfireplace #familyroom #playroom
Before, during, and after photos of the first phase of our completely DIY basement renovation. #basement #renovation #DIY #homeimprovement #builtins #electricfireplace #familyroom #playroom

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