Tag Archives: remodel

Basement Built-Ins

Hi and happy Tuesday!

I really want to wrap up this basement project, but I feel like the projects just.keep.coming.  Luckily, in “real life” it is finally all finished, but in blog land there’s still a couple little things we haven’t shared yet.  Hopefully I can get them knocked out in the next few days so we can finally move on with our lives. Sound good? Ok, here we go…

So this post is basically a photographic progression of the built-ins that we added to the back wall of our basement…remember this lovely area, complete with a random “what is this??” block in the corner (for more about the beginning of this project, check out this post):

Never content to just paint a wall, we decided to add some built-in storage across that wall to add some architecture to an otherwise pretty plain space. Since I’m not really up on all the details of cabinet making, this will mostly just be pictures with my ingenious descriptions.  Let’s be honest – you probably just scan the pictures most days anyways. If nothing else, pay attention to how much progress we make in the basement while making relatively no progress on the cabinets.  There’s a reason this post took so long!

Here’s the base that we built after painting, starting the ceiling, and installing the beadboard/trim, but pre-floors:

Oooooo look! Progress! Floors, furniture, and some cabinet carcasses (FYI: Bryan told me that the “bones” of the cabinet are called “carcasses” and I straight up told him he was lying.  Turns out he’s right…I only believe it cause I heard it on the Nate Berkus Show, and if Nate says it, you know its true).

Fine Strawbridge craftsmanship (no, seriously….it’s legit):

Here’s a close up of in interior:

I gave them a couple of coats of the same white semi-gloss paint that we used on the beadboard…you can see it in the background.  This is how we were living with the room for a good couple weeks.  Notice the little decorative boxes and candle we set up to try to disguise the weird corner block. Fancy.

Here’s the last bit of the lower cabinets installed and waiting for paint…and check out the wine fridge in the far right cabinet! And yes, that’s beer inside that we were trying to cool down.  Classy (and, as it turns out, ineffective).

It was finally time to paint over the black tile-esque top on the corner block, since it would be visible when we opened that cabinet:

So after giving the final cabinet a coat of paint, our built-ins needed a top.  You may remember our precarious trip home from IKEA, resulting in this situation for the 2 hour drive…

Notice the cardboard mass taking over the upper half of the photo?  That’s the countertop we brought home, and here she is partially unwrapped. Yeah, somehow we fit that in the Tahoe…but just barely.

Here’s the info packet if you’re interested in the type we purchased, and here’s the link to the IKEA page about the countertop.  This is one of those things where IKEA is an amazing resource…the 96 inch countertop only set us back $69 and we think it looks pretty amazing!

It was a little longer than we needed, so we had to cut it somehow.  The instructions suggested using a hand saw, so that’s where we started after measuring the cut line and covering both sides of the countertop with painters tape to prevent chipping.

The handsaw method flat-out sucked.  It would have taken all day. Enter, jigsaw.

We popped the countertop on with a little glue and some screws on the underside to hold everything in place.  We had also added some more beadboard going up the wall to create a back for the next project…bookcases!

I’ll spare you the details (since I don’t have any pictures), but here are the bookcases up and painted, along with some crown molding across the top to finish off the look.  These still needed some caulk and paint touch-ups, so ignore the messiness.


Alright…home stretch! We touched up the paint/caulk around the bookcases and decorated them with empty picture frames (anyone else do this? I just haven’t found the right picture yet…oops):

…added some cabinet doors (also made by Bryan…he’s so handy to have around):

And FINALLY this project is finished! (Ignore the glare on the wall…It’s not a crazy painting mistake, I promise)

Eventually we’ll find some baskets or other chotchkies to fill the open shelving, but for now this is it.

Don’t worry – there’s only 1 basement post left and then we can all finally move on with our lives. Til then…





About these ads

1 Comment

Filed under Build It, DIY

Stairway to Heaven

If our basement=heaven, then the title of this post is totally accurate.  If not, it’s a little sacrilegious, especially considering yesterday was Easter. My bad.

So, I know we’ve stretched this basement project over way too many posts, but here’s another one (and it’s not even the last one…by far…get excited). This time, we’re tackling the basement staircase.

One of my first memories of this house is the overwhelming smell of dog on this staircase.  As I may have mentioned before, our entire home is hardwood floors with the exception of two areas: the guest room closet, and the staircase to the basement. Totally random, right?  Although carpet is comfy-cozy, it also holds onto odors and dog smell was no exception here.

(Disclaimer: Despite our current pet situation, I am totally a “dog person”…grew up with them, love them. Believe me when I say that I’m not over-dramatizing the whole dog smell thing.)

Could we have tried a carpet steamer or deodorizer? Sure.  Are we that practical? Absolutely not.  Besides the smell, it was also kinda dirty looking and run down.  Here’s a shot of the staircase before we touched it (and a lovely reminder of the original red paint color):

Also, notice the bannister and how unnecessarily bulky it is. Easy fix right? We figured we’d just remove it and replace it with something more our style. Here’s how it went to down (complete with inner monologue):

“Hmm…no visible screws. That’s ok, we’ll just gently pry it off the wall using this nice chisel…”

“Just a littttttttle pressure and surely it’ll pop right off…”



Oh hey wall innards!”

Ok, so that bannister didn’t go down without a fight…and some serious damage to the drywall. But hey, no big deal.  Lucky for us, we had a guy coming to install drywall on the ceiling at the bottom of the stairs (a topic for another post), so he patched up those little blemishes while he was here.

So, moving on to the dog carpet.  I had the bright idea that there must be really nice hardwood stairs under the carpet, and wouldn’t that look lovely?  I decided that I’d just rip the carpet and pad off (super easy, right?), sand them down a tad, and viola! New hardwood stairs. Great – let’s get started!

I WAS RIGHT! Hardwood! This will be a piece of cake…except for those pesky staples with the carpet fibers attached, but those will pop right out according to every other blogger I’ve ever seen do this to their stairs.  I WIN!!!”

Oh wait…there are a LOT of staples. Are there gonna be that many on every step? And they aren’t exactly popping right out…actually, they seem kind of stuck.  WHY ARE THERE SO MANY STAPLES?!?!?!?!”

Yes…I discovered that there were that many staples on every step, and then some.  When I could actually muster enough strength to rip up the carpet and access the wood (remember….millions and millions of staples), I discovered a war zone underneath; rusty staples that would break in half with slight pressure, nails everywhere, and a tack strip which splintered into a million pieces (each having to be individually pried off) when any force was applied.  A few hours and only a couple of steps later, I began to rethink my brilliant idea.

Luckily I have a roommate who has more upper body strength and patience for this crap, and a couple of days later we had this:

(I also painted the formerly red staircase walls white, to make the staircase appear less cave-like. Yes, I was messy with the paint on the steps…I don’t care.)

By this point, we had long since given up on the idea of keeping the stairs as hardwood.  Besides the fact that they were riddled with nail and staple holes (and some nails that we just flattened into the staircase because we couldn’t get them out), the color was all wrong and there were gaps between the stairs and the wall (almost all were much bigger than what you can see in the above picture…think 4-5 inches).  Carpet it is.

We’re not so bold as to think we could install our own carpet, so we gathered three in-home estimates from both local and national companies.  We ended up going with Lowe’s…they were the least expensive, plus we just like them and basically live in their store.

(Begin Rant) One guy who came from Empire Today patronized me for saying that I wanted to discuss their estimate with my husband before agreeing to schedule the installation (aka hedging because we still had two more people coming to give estimates).  He said something along the lines of how I must not be “allowed” to spend that much since I had to check with my husband first, then tried to give me grief because I didn’t end up buying the carpet and he doesn’t get reimbursed for mileage for driving all the way to my house, located squarely in their service area.  Shock of all shocks, we didn’t go with them. Poor form, Empire Today. (End Rant).

Within a few days, we had lovely new carpet, sans doggie smell and stains:

The carpet and installation ended up costing around $375, which was way more than we were expecting to spend on this little project, so be forewarned if you want to try this yourself.  Maybe give the carpet steamer a chance? I’m also wondering how much more it would have cost to have them remove the old carpet…I definitely would have paid it looking back on that hellish experience. But, that being said, we’re very happy with the way it looks and feels.  We’re still on the hunt for a bannister, so we’ll give a little update when the staircase is finally finished.

So, the big question to my ladies…ever been in a situation like I had with the carpet dude? How did you handle it? Do share!





Filed under DIY

The moment you’ve all been waiting for!

Hello ladies and gents! Hope everyone had a great weekend (you can still say that on Tuesday, right?)  We had a wonderful time at the wedding of two friends in Cincinnati on Saturday, and met some great people (more on that at the end of this post, so keep reading!)

Cincinnati ties into this post in another way, because it also happens to be the home of our nearest IKEA. As part of our basement makeover project, we decided to bite the bullet and buy all new furniture.  Remember, it was where all our old, mismatched furniture had gone to die? See some of the “before” pictures here.

So, after some deliberation, we decided to venture east and stock up at IKEA.  I know…we’re adults, not college sophomores. But….we’re cheap budget conscious, and the swedish wonderland has a number of options that are higher quality than a $7.99 table that looks and feels like it is made out of cardboard.  We wanted a comfortable-yet-modern looking basement on a budget, and found plenty of options that fit the description perfectly.

As a reminder, let’s take a look at the empty, finished room:

Since IKEA is such a trek away, we wanted to make sure that what we brought home would fit in the space.  That’s where a free website called floorplanner.com came in really handy.  We put in the dimensions of our room, and played around with different furniture layouts based on the dimensions given on the IKEA website for the different pieces we were considering.

We knew we wanted at least a couch with a chaise lounge.  Then the practical side of us said that we’d probably both want our own lounges (I know, spoiled), so we wanted to see if there was any way to fit both in the room.  After playing around with a few layouts, we decided this was our best option (not totally accurate to scale, but close enough):

As far as what furniture dimensions to use for the floor planning, we decided we liked the Kivik line from IKEA…specifically, the loveseat + chaise combo:

And an additional chaise, just for fun:

Of course, we (Bryan) picked the most expensive cover (Teno light gray), but let’s be honest, it looks good.

After picking up these two pieces (and tons of other stuff of course), we attempted to load it all in a Tahoe.  This literally took almost two hours, which included unpacking everything because the BOXES took up too much space.  Anyone familiar with IKEA will know that they are known for flat-packing all their furniture to create the smallest possible package.

Not small enough, apparently. IKEA should take a lesson from us on packing effeciently…

The drive home was less than comfortable, especially with a huge countertop piece (seen in the very top of this next picture) over my head for the entire two hour drive. (Psst: the countertop is also going in the basement, but that project isn’t finished yet…sad day.)

Upon our arrival home, we unloaded everything and prepared for an evening of allen wrenches and stick figure assembly instructions:

So, are you ready to see it all set up?

Are you sure?

Ok, here it is!

We lovvvvve it and have been spending so much time down there!  Besides the sofa/chaise, here are a few more items we picked up to complete the room:

Two Dalfred barstools, which we are using as little side tables (and extra seating in a pinch):

The Hemnes TV unit:

(still kind of unorganized in this pic…sorry!)

And this cool lamp that reminds me of something you might find at Restoration Hardware:

So there ya go! Just for fun, let’s take a look back at what we started with:

And after:

Hope you all like it and enjoyed following this project! Don’t worry about going into Strawbridge basement withdrawal though…I still have a few more details to share about this project, and of course we’re already busy working on new things around here so keep checking back!

Speaking of blogs to check out, remember how I mentioned the awesome people we met at the wedding last weekend?  Well, one of those people happens to be Megan from the amazing blog Pink to Green.  We had a great time discussing all things blog related (over a couple cocktails, of course!) and I was blown away by pictures of her beautiful home and a ton of helpful tips for staying healthy and eco-friendly.

I mean seriously….I love her house:

And her adorrrrrrable puppy :)

Be sure to pay her a visit.  I’ll also link up her blog on the sidebar so you can find it anytime!

Whew! Long post!  Thanks for sticking around….catch ya on the flip side.




Filed under DIY