Hi Guys! Woah, what a crazy summer this has been. I am so happy that the basement is finally done. It’s been overwhelming to say the least. I thought I was totally prepared for a remodeling project and didn’t think that it would affect our typical day-to-day lifestyle too much – I was so totally wrong.
Yes, it wasn’t as bad as I’m sure a kitchen remodel would be, and I’m so thankful we have this awesome basement now, but – holy hell – it still was bad. We didn’t have access to laundry for 7 weeks, the time spent away from the house trying avoid the construction was hard on the kids (especially Gus), and the three weeks I spent doing painting, wallpapering and cabinet installation took a toll on our family life.
The basement as it sits is about 90% finished. There is still a handful of things that need to be done, but I had to call it quits for my own sanity. Last Friday was the deadline I gave myself and I feel pretty good about where things ended up at that line in the sand. Now I’m going to spend some time with the kids before school starts next week. After they head back and I have a few more free hours in the day, I need to focus on the rest of the house that’s not the basement – doing some major purging, organizing, cleaning, and fixing up – before I can even begin to think about getting back to the basement and the remaining bathroom work down there.
So now that I got all that doom and gloom stuff out of the way, let me show you around our new lifestyle-transforming basement.
I can’t say enough about our contractor and his team. They were really great to work with, collaborative and respectful. Feel free to send an e-mail my way if you live in the western twin cities area and have more questions about our experience with them.
Early on in the whole process Jeff and I met up with our old buddy J-Tapp (aka Archi-Tapp, aka John), who happens to be an Architect, to help us brainstorm what might be possible for the space. He gave us the great idea of using the pre-existing angled nook as a TV area with built-in seating.
He also told me I had to learn Sketchup, which became an invaluable tool. I can’t recommend it enough. It was a little intimidating and took a bit to get used to, but after watching a few YouTube vids I was good to go and able to use it as an effective way to communicate what I envisioned for the basement to prospective contractors.
Having a clear idea of what we wanted the basement to look like going into the whole contractor interviewing process was probably a little off-putting for some of the folks we talked with, but most of them embraced the design and the clear idea. We saw a wide spectrum of contractors from high-end Design-Build types to super affordable handy-man dudes.
After meeting with a few contractors we quickly realized that our original budget wasn’t going to hold up if we wanted the bathroom roughed in with plumbing and a shower pan. We weighed our options and decided that we only needed to have the bathroom completed enough for me to come in at a later date and finish tiling, sink install and basic plumbing stuffs. Our dream was also to have a gas fireplace as well, but we nixed that early on in favor of the bathroom rough-in, an egress window and some very realistic faux-wood vinyl flooring. Trying to fit within the budget comes with a few compromises. A few small things pushed our costs up a little beyond where we’d hoped – the new concrete slab we had to have poured in, plumbing for the future sink, and some extra lighting add-ons.
This is the media area, notice that there is shelving missing for record storage? It’s just one of those things that still needs to be done and will happen later on. The extra add-ons to the Budg left us without the funds needed for extras such as a new turntable and stereo receiver for the media area, and extra furniture pieces. We’ll get to all that stuff in time and for now we’re just borrowing from other parts of the house.
One of those funny dream things that we always wanted for the basement was a beverage cooler for kid and adult beverages alike. It’s been kind of dreamy being within arm’s reach of nicely chilled beers the last few hot summer days.
Notice the condensation on the ‘fridge. It’s been comfortable in the basement if you aren’t constructing cabinets and installing TV’s. This last week of 90º temps and super humidity almost killed me. A dehumidifier will definitely have to be one of those things we purchase before next summer, and it will be so easy to set up with the new drain we had installed back in the utility/laundry room.
Oh, and look! That’s the new larger “egress” window we had put in. It’s not a true egress; it only opens two feet as opposed to the three required for an egress window in Minneapolis. We don’t have a bedroom down here, so code doesn’t require a true egress and I didn’t want the window well jutting into my veggie garden on the exterior side of the house. The new window lets in so much light that I wish we could have windows this size all over da place. Also, we had all the glass block windows replaced with brand new windows, which has been transformative to say the least! I love being able to actually see outside.
Let’s talk about old stuff, k? You guys know I love that this house is old and I’m always wanting to take care of it and restore it and love it up and so on. Of course, in this basement there was nothing original about it, or at least so I thought. There was the original radiator and sewage pipes, but that was nothing I really wanted to keep around. We spent a big chunk of our budget to remove the lion’s share of the plumbing (most of it located under the concrete) and radiator pipes that hung low and practically hit old Jeff-y in the head. That stuff was so worth updating, and I’m so glad we did.
Jeff and I reveled in the fact that we (hopefully) won’t be experiencing any more gross plumbing back-ups due to all the rust that had built up in our original cast iron pipes. It feels so good to know that stuff behind the scenes is actually brand new!
In our utility area there had been an old work bench that had been scrapped together with wood pieces. I was quite enamored by it, but it had been built into a wall that needed to be removed and I just wasn’t going to kill myself trying to save it. I did save the three drawers just in case I could use them for something (and I just may in our garage). When Dan, our main carpenter was doing the demo on the bench he found these three sign pieces that had been used to build the bench. They appeared to be part of an old hand-lettered sign and when I saw it I was so happy that I knew I could actually keep part of the old bench and use it as sentimental decor in the basement, and here it is. The quote isn’t that amazing (“Business goes where the innovation is the least attractive and stays where it is best treated”), but the silver lettering is so good.
I also grabbed the hardware off of the old storage/coal room before saying goodbye to the old basement. I stripped the hardware the week demo began and ended up finding the most beautiful porcelain door knob. Duh, of course I would use it again on the door in the basement and ordered an exact reproduction from Rejuvenation. Also, the door: it’s still not been painted. This is just the primer coat, but I am very much considering painting it black because I think it could look so totally amazing. That’s one of those project that will come later, after I finish cleaning the layers of dust off of the rest of my home.
Choosing reproduction trim and baseboard was an easy way for us to give a nod to the historic elements of the house. The trim and baseboard closely resembled the trim on upper levels of the house, and I think giving a thoughtful homage to the age of the home makes the basement fit in.
Let me tell you a few things I learned about media cables. They are the most amazingly huge pain-in-the-butt thing to get right. We have this 2″ tube that runs from behind the TV to the cabinets next to the TV where we store the cable box, Wii, and all that cool stuff. We have to shuttle all of the HDMI cables and whatnots over on this little nylon cord, and something always goes wrong. I just ordered up our third set of cables. The first snapped at the HDMI connector, the second set were just too short and the third will hopefully be long enough. If we can manage to get all of those cords through I will be chugging champagne in jubilant celebration. I had no idea that such a simple system was so terribly inconvenient and stress inducing.
Patti & Bruce might be one of my favorite additions to the basement. Don’t touch ‘em though or you will discover that they were framed with the most lightweight material ever used in framing. Oh well, that’s what you get from ordering from allposters.com. Patti does a nice job of covering up our breaker box, and they both look so nice on the Cole & Son Woods wallpaper. Oh yeah, I did get paper happy and decided to do this wall too at the last minute.
Most of the pillows were from H&M home and if you haven’t discovered their Home section yet, you oughta’. Most of the cases were five bucks a piece. Pair that with a six dollar insert from Ikea and you will be living in pillow heaven, my friends. The light and the sofa were the only other new items added to the basement. The sofa is the Karlstad (RIP) from Ikea. I pieced this together before demo even started – it was already being discontinued from stores and the sofa and covers were all hard to find. We will never live without another Ikea sofa in this basement as long as we both shall live as the flat-pack-sofa is the only thing that will fit down the narrow stairs and doorway to our basement. It’s amazing that those genius Ikea designers allow me to fit a large sectional sofa into down my dinky little stair way. FYI we didn’t have the stairway heightened because it would’ve affected our main staircase upstairs, which was non-negotiable.
The rug, Bertoia wire chair, and plants are all from our bedroom. When in doubt, shop your house. We have an orange upholstered chair that we plan on some day having reupholstered and using down here in the basement. The Docksta table in the hang out area is from the porch and the chairs are from the kitchen and spare bedroom. We will have to purchase new furniture down the road, but this all works for now.
On the far corner of the basement, I firmly installed some more Ikea cabinets to create bench seating with storage below. This will come in handy when we have large groups here for parties. The floor space that it wraps around is a perfect spot for the kids to play too. Gus especially likes to play trains here and we can hide all his train parts away in the shelving. Also, those yardsticks are from Grandpa’s ruler collection.
Lighting! It’s a thing that is necessary, especially in basements. Our basement is light and airy on sunny days but during overcast afternoons and evenings it needs light. Part of the plan was to add this 4″ high soffit around the entire perimeter of the room. Its purpose is to provide us with this nice downward lighting and we love it. We also have recessed lights on the ceiling, but those are only used when the kids need lots of light to play. Besides that, the recessed main lighting hasn’t been the most attractive or moody lighting, but is totally necessary in a basement.
Here’s your peak at the basement bathroom. It’s all roughed in, we have a huge shower stall ready for tile and all the plumbing is in place and ready for this incredible sink. We’ll get to all of that this winter.
Your eye for design; beautiful clean lines, and impeccable attention to color, just keeps getting better and better! It has been so amazing watching your style evolve throughout the years. Someday, when I can truly “adult up” I will look to you for guidance on making my future home look awesome and livable.
Keep on keepin’ on, my friend. You da boss.
Laurax! You are so kind to me. Thank you!
Looks beautiful! I love that you made the basement so bright! Basements never seem bright, but you totally pulled it off! I have the exact same couch with the navy blue cover and I absolutely love it. It’s been with me from college to babies and has withstood so many moves, not to mention taking the chaise on and off to move it to the other side when I need a change. And yet people always make a weird face when I tell them how much I love my ikea couch. Hah!
Thanks, Robin! It’s not bright today cause of all this cold and rain we’re getting, but yes, normally it’s not too bad. I am really looking forward to a long relationship with this sofa. The entire time I was putting it together I was so impressed by all the design that goes into a sofa. It has so many modular pieces, is relatively inexpensive, has sofa covers that can be cleaned and replaced, and has raving reviews by so many who have purchased it. I’m glad to hear another one!
Everything is lovely. Those windows make a world of difference! Our house is much “newer” than yours as it was built in 1955, but it’s funny how similar our basements look (also Mpls). Originally we had linoleum, which we carpeted over. After 10 years of pets and kids it looked nasty, and after a conveniently timed broken pipe incident and subsequent flooding, we replaced the carpet with luxury vinyl wood plank tile. I can’t even tell you how much I love it. The texture feels nice on the feet, it’s so easy to clean (hello, errant glass of spilled wine!), and the biggest surprise is how WARM it feels in the winter! So much warmer than ceramic, which we were considering briefly. Kudos for a job well done and enjoy some time off chillin in the basement!
Oh yeah! Renae, this is luxury vinyl tile too, and I was so curious to see how it felt in the winter time. Thanks for the insight. The only thing I’m not happy with so far is that the installers repeated the plank pattern so often that it really stands out in the “hallway” section of the basement. It was supposed to be installed more randomly. I tried to get a feel for how big of a pain it would be to replace and I quickly got the impression that it would be a very BIG pain, so I dropped it.
So GREAT!!! Love your new basement!
Those stairs would look cool black and white – maybe even with some shapes thrown in on the vertical parts of the stairs (kinda like the triangle/tree pillow)… just a thought :-)
Love your stuff!
I agree Abby! I was thinking black and white too, or black stained treads and white risers. We will see what condition they are in once I get them sanded out and repaired.
Looks amazing! As an architect I am especially impressed that you didn’t run into any issues with dimensions,etc. – even professionals can mess that kind of thing up. Enjoy. I’m wishing we could do our own basement now!
Krista! I give the dimension-credit-figuring-out to the carpenters. They were really good at communicating the exact dimensions of the walls with drywall etc. I was surprised we didn’t run into any major discrepancies. Thanks!
IT IS JUST PERFECT!!! We just have the dining room and a little hallways to renovate in the main level and then we are moving on to the basement of our little south Mpls house. I have dreamed for YEARS of using The Woods wallpaper somewhere in our little house. I was always thinking in the dining room, but I never thought about using it in a basement? I am in love. Great job!!! And, now I’m full of ideas and the husband is gonna get an ear full tonight :D
You rule. I love everything you do.
Hey Elizabeth! Thanks so much!! I obviously love the woods wallpaper too, and have been considering it for so long. I don’t know if you remember but it was a competitor for the wallpaper in our bedroom. I knew when we decided against it that it had to go somewhere someday. Not only that, it is the epitome of urban cabin to me, and I love that concept so much! Thanks, and get your husband on board to do woods wallpaper in your dining room, I don’t think you can go wrong with it!
Oh goodness I love it! Just curious about the ceiling (and apologies if you covered this in a previous post) but was there a good alternative to the traditional drop ceiling you would find in most basements? Thanks for such beautiful inspiration!
Hey Jody! We opted to go with a dry wall ceiling. The only item we ever needed to access in the ceiling was the water valve shut off for the exterior faucet. We had the valve moved to the utility/laundry room. If for any reason we need to access anything in the ceiling it should be easy enough (although a small pain) to removed necessary drywall and patch it in after. Thanks!
This is absolutely gorgeous! I LOVE your blog and the ways you honor the history of your old home. We live in a 1930’s tudor right around the corner from you in the Nokomis neighborhood with a basement that is in dire need of a basement reno! Your cabinet storage is my favorite part, and I think you said they were from IKEA? Could you tell me the name of them?
Hey Kate! Oh, I love tudors, and they are all so pretty over in your neighborhood. Yes, we decided to use Ikea kitchen cabinetry for a few reasons. I had used it before, was probably the biggest so I had experience with the install. Since Ikea updated their cabinet line last spring, they now offer 15″ depth base cabinets, which I wanted – I didn’t want them to seem to kitcheny or take up too much space. Lastly, the new Ikea base cabinets install on a rail (rails used to be limited to only the uppers). This makes it way easier to plumb and level them all. Hope that gives some insight, and thanks!
I’ve been a long time reader and avoider of comments until today! I live in Minneapolis and am also working on our basement remodel. These posts have made my day. So beautiful. Would you mind sharing what fridge you selected. I’m in the midst of finding one and am having a hard time with all the different options and prices!
Hey Julia! So glad you decided to comment. I had no idea where to start for fridge shopping, I really wanted something a little more narrow, but quickly realized that all beverage coolers were only built to counter depth. I ended up ordering this one through wine coolers direct. This is one of those websites that offers all of the same products under lots of different similar site names so I was a little apprehensive. However, I was coming up with dead ends everywhere else I looked. So, I went for it – especially because they offered such detailed dimensions online which I needed to insure that it fit. They delivered it pretty quickly via freight. Hope that helps!
That is a beautiful renovation. I am looking for a wine fridge for my formal living area.. do you happen to remember, or maybe it’s visible, which brand or model that one is in your photo?
First time commenter, long-ish time reader; holy amazing! This is so awesome; words fail me. I am so impressed and so happy for your family that you have this amazing space. Wow.
Thanks so much, Laurie! We are happy to have the space too. I didn’t talk too much about it, but it has changed all the ways we use this house – maybe I’ll save that for a later post ;)
Your basement is amazing! Your hard work has definitely paid off, and I’m sure you’ll be enjoying the fruits of your labors for years to come. ^_^
Thanks, Annmarie! I sure do hope so. Now that things are settling down it does feel very satisfying, and I’m glad we had a contractor that was willing to hand it over to me to do a bunch of the finishing work.
Oh Scoops, you work so hard for ll of us! That is fantastic.
Thanks so much, Vanessa!
Dude, that basement is total badassness. I have a basement re-do in my future and I’m super inspired right now. Major heart eyes. Are those Ikea countertops, too? I’m also curious about your sweet new turntable. I hope you give us all the deets after you catch up on sleep & life. Thank you for the early reveal, we so don’t care about that last 10%. Enjoy your very well deserved rest in that amazeballs new space! (I recommend loads of telly)
Hey Anna, Thanks and good question. Yeah, they are Ikea countertops. After scouring a few lumber yards for hardwood, I decided I’d be killing myself to try and construct countertops without a table saw. So I gave in (thankfully) to the much easier option of getting Ikea countertops. They actually look really great even though they are just laminate – a bunch of my friends were convinced it was hardwood until they touched them These are the ones we went with – I’m still waiting for Ikea to deliver one last chunk of it to me so I can finish the project.
Regarding the turntable, I got it from upstairs ;) It’s just our day-to-day turntable. I’m lucky, my dad is an audiophile and I got this hand-me-down rega turntable about 10 years ago (here’s the modern equivalent of our model). We love it and I’d definitely consider investing in another for the basement OR upgrading the upstairs turntable and keeping this one in the basement. Either way, it’s been great.
Thanks for the info! Agreed, the counters totally look like wood. They’re perfect. Gonna check those out next Ikea trip. I still can’t get over this space. So good!
Doy, I read through your post too quickly (distracted by all the eye candy, obviously), and missed that a new turntable will be a future purchase. My dad left me & my bros thousands of LPs so I’m on the hunt for a decent one. Good to know you like the Rega – it also happens look rad in that spot. :)
Holy smokes. It’s beautiful!!
Thanks so much, Anne!
WOWZA!! This is really inspiring. Hello, first search result for “chic small basement remodel!!!” AND Patti and Bruce?!?! Togethter again??? As it should be?? This is sooo good, professional, classy, and brilliant. Love your blog!!
so fancy!! i wish ikea had been around when we were broke newlyweds, trying to figure out how to furnish our beloved so mpls bungalow, with the ladder-like stairway up that no furniture could maneuver! one word of forewarning about the brockway sink: we had one installed in our kids’ bathroom, and it was a bear. the plumber was swearing at it. the contractor also had to fill the wall with studding to offset the weight of it. just fyi, since you still have time to prep for it!
Finished or not, it looks amazing! You will be happy for those lil’ projects when you’re holed up inside this winter;) I can’t believe how much storage you fit into this space. Love all the nooks and the new windows are game-changers. Good on you, lady! Now enjoy it…especially once those boys are back in school.
Your basement looks awesome- that window lets in so much light! We have two Karlstad sofas at home, and replaced the legs with some custom mid century modern numbers from an Etsy seller– https://www.etsy.com/shop/thirteencolonies
Wow–excellent job! Do have a pretty high ceiling height in your basement? We do not and therefore it limits what we would like to do renovation-wise :)
This is incredible! You’d never guess it’s a basement – I wish my whole house looked this modern yet cozy.
Whoa! Just catching up on your blog and my jaw dropped when I saw the basement! I can NOT believe it’s a basement! The natural lighting is amazing and I love love love the way you finished it out. Your house is amazingly beautiful top to bottom. :) Thanks for sharing the tour!
You may have answered this elsewhere, but could you tell me how tall your ceilings are down here? Thanks!
What a beautiful basement reno! My husband and I are currently renovating our basement and are having the hardest time finding built ins that we like and are decently affordable. Wondering where yours are from/what brand. Love the aesthetic!