Sunday, March 10, 2013

Basement Reveal

Finally. I know. It just seemed too daunting of a task for some reason. That, and we're not 100% done, but it's functional now and that's what really matters. I'll update with changes as we make them, but right now we're burnt out from basement work, so it's going to be awhile to re-coop.

A Little Background:
Neither of us grew up having a basement at all. In fact, before we moved here, I don't believe I'd ever even stepped foot in more than 5 in my life, so the feeling of necessity to have one myself was just not there. Take it or leave it was our mentality. However, when buying a house in the Midwest, you're pretty much required to take it, as nearly all come fitted with one.

During our inspection, we were suspicious that there were moisture issues in the basement and had numerous contractors perform various tests. They eventually found a small leak in the basement shower, patched it, and wiped their hands clean. Only, there was a lot more to be found than that. About a year into living here, Ray pulled up the carpet in the corner and confirmed moisture. The demolition started right then as the cause of the moisture was shocking. Inside one of the two closets was a window opening that was boarded up with plywood and layers of drywall, but no actual window to keep moisture out. Yeah. We live in Chicago. Where the winters are brutal and water can obviously come right in. We had no idea the window well existed because we had two already (standard) and the third was covered from the outside with heavy foliage. In order to rid ourselves of the gross, Ray tore out all of the external walls, installed a window where it belonged, removed insulation, and pretty much took the basement down to concrete walls again. Our finished basement we paid $20,000 more for was now essentially unfinished again-- except for the bathroom & bedroom which were spared.

Remediation for moisture, lots of heavy cleaning, sealing of cracks, plumbing, concrete work and all kinds of professional help went down before the actual remodel part began. Demolition also consisted of removing the carpet from the entire basement (minus stairs), removing drywall, removing base moulding, cutting into other interior walls to ensure moisture wasn't an issue there, removing ceiling tiles and removing the existing bar and free-cycling it. No photos were taken of the basement before any demolition began (dang!), but I tried to take some photos during the early stages of demolition to have compare/contrast.


I forgot another box. We added a radon system to our home (hello another $1,000).
Demolition Process
This is the most depressing part of the job, because it's a lot of work, a lot of hauling, and you're not even at the break-even point yet. Also, you're literally throwing money down the drain by destroying old walls, floors, etc.
The majority of the exterior walls were taken down to the framing. That bottom right photo above? We discovered that the concrete/framed area is actually an exterior door that was closed over (properly)! The door was boarded when the previous owners installed our deck where the door entrance would be to the outside. No more mirrors or bar. Wood paneling was behind and that was also removed. We're the 3rd owners of our house and a lot of work has been done over 35 years! Imagine a pink basement before the yellow. Remnants have been found. It's like a time capsule in here!
The end of the bar, above. Patches on the walls were areas that we had to fix & electively demolished to make sure we found all of the water damaged issues before refinishing. Recessed lighting and ceiling tiles removed. We may add recessed lighting again at a later date, but we really didn't need as many as there were. They were also dated and not fire-safe. Recessed lighting did remain in the bedroom, however. All of the framing in the closets were demolished. That was the big water problem area.

Now let's get on to the good stuff. Here's where I attempt to be cool like those design bloggers out there. Except it's a basement. Basements have crappy natural lighting... so yeah.
Doorway entering the main level of our house. New lamp, fire alarm, dark lightswitch covers & paint. All lightswitches were changed in the basement.
Up close and personal with that lamp change. 1978 called and wanted their lamp back. We happily obliged.
 Base of the stairwell looking into the hallway where the bedroom and bathroom are. Added a rug here (from Target), epoxy flooring & paint. That ceiling lamp is also our change, though we did that eons ago.
Looking up the stairs from the bottom. We didn't replace the carpet. The entire basement had the same carpet before we tore it all out. From here on out, the paint color changes. Two coats of primer and two coats of paint throughout our 1,300+ square foot basement done by just the two of us. After Benjamin went down to bed for the night. Like woah. I'm tired just remembering those nights.
 Halfway down the stairs. New floors, paint, rug. 
From the very top of the stairs going down from the main level of the house. New paint.
Closets are clean and painted. We'll figure out shelving eventually, but we don't really need the space now, so we're not stressing it. It's odd to have a window in a closet, but whatever. Short of boarding it up (properly), we didn't have a choice. The closets are already framed and we are fine leaving it that way.
Staring at the beginning of the main basement area. Closets to the left. Table & chairs were Ray's cousin's table and chairs given to us for Benjamin from his Aunt Ceil. Our setup for Wii and our workout station (picture yoga mats laid out on the ground) & pictures hung on the walls.
All of those walls were hung and mudded by Ray and a really fantastic guy that works for his company. Ray worked alongside him as an apprentice for much of the basement refinishing. Those two put in some long hours. 
Notice that picture and where it's hanging. It's over the breaker box. Originally there was a custom wood door on hinges that covered the breaker box. We didn't really think much of it, but when the new drywall hole was cut too large, the door no longer fit. We got the idea to hang art over the hole that can easily be removed if we needed access. The art is shown in more detail below, but it's Many Glacier at Glacier National Park-- our favorite of all the parks. We have dreams of staying at that lodge someday. We have this one from the same national park hanging in our Foyer.
 Wood paneling is gone, new drywall, a new coat of paint, and a picture on the wall. Oh, and ping pong obviously. That table came with the house when we purchased it. That is one very heavy table.
New moisture resistant ceiling tiles and a few new lines of drop ceiling framing because we ditched some of the pieces accidentally during the beginning demolition.
A different view from behind the pool table looking toward the entrance to the main basement area and that rug from Target again.
Here's that picture up closer and pulled forward to reveal the breaker box. A few more pieces of art on the wall from Ray's bachelor pad days.
 This is the utility room. Nothing fancy, but we did clean it up a bit. It's nice that everything finally has a place.
Here's the big deal. The bulk of our cash went to flooring. We hired a contractor to lay polymer flooring. It was a 3-step process and we had plans to leave for the weekend just hours after they finished the job. It needed to cure for a week or so and it was perfect timing. We're glad we had other plans because our house smelled horrible from the fumes! Not exactly something you want your small child breathing in. Fumes are gone now and it's super clean and safe. Hooray!

We love it. We're not big fans of carpet in basements (it is underground after all) and considering the cost of flooring, this will last us a lifetime and we'll never have to replace it. It looks nice and it's extremely durable. We chose a color that resembled leather. It goes on shiny and they add a layer of matting to take away the sheen. The top picture shows where they poured a base epoxy and sanded/polished it down before adding the layer of brown. The guys had to wear special shoes to walk on it during the process.
Video of them laying the layer of brown epoxy down on day 2.
We didn't change much in the bathroom. It was already finished and the paint is the same as the original basement color. We changed out the showerhead because it was broken, hung a picture and added bath rugs. We have plans to change that mirror, but that's super low on the priority list. It may be dated, but it's functional.
The bedroom was already painted, though we did have to color-match the paint in the closet (different from the room color = annoying) because there was patching done in there and a spot on the wall that we cut out to make sure there was no moisture in the bedroom. Otherwise, the floors, bed, and bedding are new. The rug was our former living room rug before we bought a new one. Bed is Ikea and bedding is Woolrich.
And this is the reason it took me so ridiculously long to post about this... other than the fact that it might be the longest post ever. We're not done. I have plans for these areas that I was hoping would be part of the big reveal, but I can't manage to release my husband into the dungeon for anymore weekend work yet. I still haven't recovered from him being in the basement every night for months. Neither has he {as he just grumbled to me about seeing me write this post giving him anxiety}! But eventually, we will add these two projects to the list. Can you believe there was a bar in that will-be bookshelf area? And how cool would a chalkboard wall look in that far right corner? Keeping track of ping pong scores anyone? I love it.

I need a nap. Holy details. What a blog post.


LauraJane said... [Reply to comment]

I LOVE IT! The basement floor looks uh-mazing! And I love that it's going to be so easy to clean up, that you can add more rugs if you want to make changes/etc. Almost makes me want to work on ours but I think Scott would kill me if I even suggested it. ;)

Kari at A Grace Full Life said... [Reply to comment]

I need that bed.

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

That looks amazing! Basement renos are such a huge undertaking. HUGE. I know the feeling when you said that you painted it at night, just the two of you after Benjamin was in bed. UGH. Those are long and exhausting days. You did a fabulous job :)

I really like how you have left some items for future completion, like the chalkboard wall. Those things can come with time and will make a project seem to last forever if you want to have every single detail completed.

katie illingworth said... [Reply to comment]

That epoxy floor is some kind of fabulous. Good job! Very inspiring.

Tiffany said... [Reply to comment]

I'm exhausted just thinking about all the work that I had nothing to do with! Ha! It looks great though! I love the flooring! and I love the plans for the sunken bookshelves and chalkboard wall. Post pics of those when it's all done!

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

Man you guys are rockstars. I'm super impressed with Elliot's skills!

Looks amazing.

Gina said... [Reply to comment]

SO impressive. It looks awesome. Now I kinda want to refinish ours.

Molly said... [Reply to comment]

So excited to see the quarters that will be occupied by Brooke and me and the babies!!!! Sooooo exciting! Looks great!

Darcey said... [Reply to comment]

Looks amazing!!! You will love it when your little man is a little older and he can run around a big open space...especially during the cold months.

Jenny said... [Reply to comment]

Good for you two, making that window and everything else done the right way :-) It looks great!

Brooke said... [Reply to comment]

Looks fabulous! Great place for a chalkboard wall. I see the Wilson Casa being a future Teen Lounge.

Solange, Nik, Caitlin and Oliver said... [Reply to comment] guys did a LOT of work in there. I'd want to stay away from that basement for a while too :)
Excited for the new changes though!