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May 7, 2015

Our 1970's House Makeover: The Basement Makeover is FINALLY Done!

The basement is finally finished!!!!!!!!!

Ya'll. When I first showed you the beginnings of the basement renovation, I had no idea it would take us 8 months to finish it. I just looked back on the date of that first post, and lo and behold, I pretty much wrote it the day I got pregnant.
Sooooo....that's way too much information, but I feel like it's my best shot at explaining why I moved at extreme sloth speed on this one.

Let me warn you on the front end...this is a long post.  I debated on breaking it up into several smaller posts, but I've made you wait long enough. So, today you're getting 8 months of hard work crammed into one long post. 

Let's start at the beginning. Eight months ago, the basement pretty much looked like the below picture. I used it as a hoarding room for projects gone bad, it smelled like a litter box, and it seemed to be the official countrywide meeting place for spiders and ants.
 I avoided it like the plague.

Once we decided to take the plunge on renovating it (worst timing ever), we ripped up all of the gross cat carpet and old 1970's trim.

And this is where the trouble began. I've been putting off writing this post for weeks because, well....SHAME.
The bottom line is this: Back in October I chose the grossest brown wood plank tile ever. 

In my defense, I was newly pregnant, sick as hell, and I totally let some salvage store sales guy bulldoze me into a purchase I didn't really love. I think this picture of Jesse looking at the tile in the store kinda sums it up.

And what's even worse.....once we brought the tile home, half of it was damaged and dirty (we assumed all of the gunk would come off during the dehazing process...and it definitely did NOT), and while the tile looked a little more gray in the store, in our basement it was a lovely shade of poop brown.

But we pushed forward. Because that's what you do when you spend $1000 on tile that you can't return.
Never again, salvage shop. NEVER AGAIN.

Jesse spent about two weeks installing this poop tile in the entire basement. And while I tried to encourage him and cheer him on (he worked so hard and did such a good job), I was also secretly crying inside. 
I knew I hated it from the moment he installed the first tile, but I just couldn't speak up. 
I feel like it's a life long mission of mine to learn how to trust my instincts. I tend to always know what I really want right from the beginning, but I'm so bad at listening to my gut. I get pressured into things really easily, and I'm the worst at speaking my mind. I basically have to disaster-ify something and then cry about it for a couple weeks before I have the balls to start over and fix it. It's a painfully obvious flaw.

So, as you can see in the below picture, I was really diving headfirst into the 'make the 1970's basement even more of a dark pit' strategy. I was testing out dark gray paint colors on the walls, and obviously....poop floors. I think I felt some sort of self-imposed pressure to make this into a 'mancave', and so I didn't really take into account what would actually look the best in our house.

Also, after several attempts of dehazing the tile, it still dried like this. And the dark gray grout we used dried white. 
All in all, a totally ideal outcome.

 So, we decided to pay someone to come professionally dehaze the tile, and they weren't able to do it either. 
The disaster just kept growing with intensity.
So, I spent a few days freaking out and feeling like we were just going to have to live with this. Because who asks their husband to rip up 1000 square feet of tile he just spent two weeks installing by himself.

Well, after a few days of soul searching...I do.
It took a little convincing, but ultimately Jesse admitted that he really hated the tile, too, and that we should just suck it up and fix it. The minute we were both on the same page, I felt a huge wave of relief, and I knew it was the right decision. 

And I'll be honest. We decided to pay someone to come demo the poop tile and install the new tile of our choice. I was obviously pretty worthless (renovation-wise) at this point, and it was just one of those times where we knew it would suck to spend the money, but that it would be money well spent. And it was. 

And I never captured a picture of the floor guys demo-ing and installing the new floors (because it's so awkward to tell contractors that you're a blogger and then take pictures of them). But, here's a reminder of what the floors looked like after the poop tile was removed.

After the tile was removed, I spent a lot of time going to different home improvement stores and flooring stores and weighing my options. I was determined to make the right flooring decision this time (and honestly terrified that I was just gonna make a mess of it all over again).

But luckily, I did end up making a great decision.
I chose the Leonia Silver wood plank tile from Lowe's in the 6x24 inch. And I just chose a grout to match the tile because I didn't want too much contrast.
 Lowe's didn't provide me with tile or pay me to tell you about this. I bought this tile with my own money like a normal person and I'm telling you about it because I like it. 

So, after the new tile was installed (and I felt like I could breathe again), I decided to follow my heart and just make this entire space light and bright and basically the opposite of my original awful plan. Our house is from the 1970's and it just looks better when it's light and bright.
You'd think I would've learned this lesson when I stained the upstairs floors dark brown and had to redo them. 

So, Jesse painted all of the dark beige walls white. I used Sherwin Williams Simply White like we did upstairs.

And then, fresh off the energy high of finally choosing the right tile, I decided to do something that I've wanted to do since the day we moved into this house.
I had Jesse paint the fireplace.

For those of you who have been following the blog for awhile, you know I've debated painting the upstairs fireplace for years. And when I mentioned it a few times on the blog, I got a massive wave of emails from you guys. Half of you wanted me to paint it so bad, and half of you were absolutely freaking out about me ruining it. It totally got in my head, and I never painted it. 

So, since the basement fireplace is much smaller, easier to paint, and well, in the basement, I decided to take a leap of faith and just do it.

I tested out a little dark gray paint first and decided it looked awful, and ultimately went with the same simply white paint we used on the walls. The goal in the end was to just make it blend in with the walls and ultimately make the space feel larger.
And it totally worked.

Here are a few before and after shots so you can see how much it brightened up the space.

Before...looking into the living room.

And after....

Before...looking towards the fireplace.

And after.

And here's the room as it looks today. We painted the inside of the fireplace box with black high-heat paint and it really just added the perfect finishing touch. I might add a mantle like I did upstairs, but I'll get to that later. 

And here's how it looks from the other direction. We're making some major changes upstairs (which I plan on showing you in my next post) and so the upstairs furniture has been moved downstairs. And all I really added was a Homegoods ottoman. Because where else can you find an ottoman for $100.

I know painted fireplaces aren't for everyone, but in the end, we're both really happy with the way it turned out and the entire room just feels bigger and more modern. And Jesse was very apprehensive about doing this and by the time it was finished, he wouldn't shut up about how awesome it looked. So, it was really a great learning lesson in trusting my vision. 
And for the record, since the day we moved into this house, Jesse has basically let me turn our house into a frilly dollhouse and he's never once batted an eye. But every time I mentioned painting the fireplace there was a tiny look of terror on his face. So, a huge thank you to Jesse for trusting my judgement (even after the brown tile disaster).
He's a good one. :)

We also updated all of the light fixtures in the basement. The worst offenders were the dark brown boob lights in the living room area. Always a fave.

We upgraded them with some beautiful chrome and glass flush mounts from Lamps Plus.

And I haven't hung any wall art down here (or even upstairs) and am still feeling very minimalist in my approach to the walls. There's something about spending the better part of a year renovating a space and then feeling very 'iffy' about poking a bunch of holes in the wall.

So, that's the living room!
 Now let's move on to the rest of the basement. 

Remember the bedroom? This is how it looked before we renovated it. We had ripped up the carpet years earlier (CATS!) and it was just a disgusting box of carpet glue and dust.

And this is what it looks like with the new flooring, freshly painted walls, and brand new chunky trim.

We're currently using this room as the new guest bedroom and home office. It's a massive room and gets tons of daylight, and it's been so nice to come down here and relax from time to time.

We replaced the light fixture in here with the same flush mount that we used in the living room, and we added an amazing new rug from Rugs USA. (It's the Satara Edison in Nickel.)

The upholstered bed was a craigslist find and the bedside tables are the Ikea Rast dressers I stained gray in this post.

And just yesterday, I changed out the hardware on the dressers with these super affordable chrome cup pulls. 
You can see in the above pic that they still had the gold hardware, and I think the chrome works so much better in this space. It's the little things.

The bedding is just stuff I had around the house. The pink velvet pillow is from Etsy and the patterned pillows are from Target 
(I think they're still there.).

And this is just all the stuff from the upstairs office, styled as minimally as possible, because who wants to add a bunch of trinkets to a room that Tootie spends 3/4 of her day in.
Not this cat mama.

And now let's move on to one of my favorite parts of the basement: the bathroom. I'll preface by saying that it probably won't blow your mind. My photography is pretty bad and it's a pretty minimally styled space. But, it makes me so happy to have this little bathroom finished and nice and new, and so, just do me a favor and pretend like I pulled off the best bathroom makeover of all time.

Here's the before. So gross. 
Nothing worked. Everything smelled.

And here's the after. So clean. So new. 
Makes me wanna waddle all the way downstairs just to take a shower.
The vanity is from Lowe's (the only one I could find that looked good and didn't make me go broke), and the shower curtain is from Target

The light fixture is from Lamps Plus (my absolute favorite...I love the little crystal globes.). And the mirror is a thrift store find that I painted silver.

And then the last little area of the basement...the hallway. It's not really all that exciting, but I think it's a great example of what a big difference paint can make.
This is the 'before' view, looking towards the guest bedroom and bathroom.

And here's the after. All we did was paint the panelled walls with Simply White, replace the doors, and paint the trim and doors Ultra Pure White. And then we replaced the light fixture with this modern chrome sconce from Lamps Plus.

Here's the 'before' view looking the opposite way, towards the door that leads to the garage. (That's how the tile looked before it was grouted.)

And here's how the hallway looks today. For now, we just painted the door to the garage, because Tootie enjoys her cat door, and frankly, we ran out of steam to replace another door (exterior doors aren't cheap, ya'll).
But still, how much better is that hallway?!

And that's the entire basement makeover in one big, long, brutally honest post. Thanks so much for being here, ya'll. And thank you for allowing me to just be a real person about all of it. 

I'll be back soon to share some really fun stuff about the upstairs, but first I'm going to take a little time to hang out with Mathias who is home from the Navy for a couple of weeks. It's the first time I've seen him since I've been pregnant...and I'm slowly adjusting to errrrrbody grabbing my belly the minute they see me. 
I'll be 33 weeks on Sunday...still truckin' along! :)

'Til next time!

Our 1970s House Makeover: The Basement Makeover Before and Afters!

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  1. Ahhh, this is so strange haha! I randomly came across your blog looking for spray paint on pinterest (random) and somehow ended up doing that weird instagram stalker thing when you go through random posts and end up on someones cousins brothers' barcelona photos from 2010 (but in terms of blog posts)...ANYWAY no need to dwindle on about that, I started reading the first basement post and was SOOO intrigued i decided to search for it, and lo and behold it came up being posted like half an hour ago haha! It must be fate...and a huge congratulations on your pregnancy :D. Anywho I don't often leave comments but i feel like this was just meant to be, the basement looks amazing and I'm off to have another stalk around the blog! xxx

    1. Thank you so much Faith! It makes me happy to know you were inspired to comment! xo

  2. I love it! Everything looks so fresh and light! Maybe one day you put some memorabilia on the walls, throw a leather couch down there and add some earth-tone accents to make it more "man-cave-ish"(technical term - clearly, haha). I think it's absolutely stunning right now though!
    I'm not super convinced about the fireplace! I loveeed those colors in the stone. I think your end result is beautiful, but I was a little sad to see it painted. I feel like it warms the place up just a bit.
    I've been looking at the walls in my bedroom since August and I've been so terrified of painting the "wrong" color, but seeing how you are always able to fix elements you're not totally in love with, is giving me more courage to bust out my paint brush and rollers finally! I've taken so much inspiration from your blog over the past year. Any time I'm looking to be inspired, I always start here! Since I've started reading, I've stained furniture, made art work, I now have a hand-made wreath for every holiday (and also realized that I'm a pathetic plant-mommy ~lol~)
    I am so excited to see how your upstairs comes out!!! Positively drooling over the idea of a nursery!!
    I know I don't know you, but I am so excited for everything that is coming your way soon! Good luck and congratulations on the basement, the baby, your amazing blog and fantastic style!! You deserve nothing but the best!

    1. Thanks sooo much Erin! You are such a sweetheart! And yes, I know not everyone will love the fireplace. But I have hated that thing from the day we moved in, and ultimately I just decided to do what makes me happy. Knowwhattamean? :)

  3. It looks SO GREAT! Start going with your gut,'s the only way to get "your" style in your space!

    1. Thanks so much Julie!! I'm learning to......verrrrry slowly! :)

  4. Christmas in May!!!! I love when you post, Virginia!!! <3

  5. Virginia, it looks soooo good! And I love the fireplace--totally helps with the transformation from "cave" (man or not--you don't want a dungeon down there!) to being bright & fresh! Plus it completely makes the basement a cohesive part of the design of your whole house, which I love. I can't wait to see the nursery designs start now that the office/guest space has moved downstairs! I'm sure Tootie will eventually get over having to share her space with you. :)

    Visiting from LorimerLiving.Com

    XO, Jaclyn

    1. Thank you for understanding my crazy vision, Jaclyn! And yes, Tootie is totally enjoying having a human bed in 'her room'.

  6. You are SUCH an inspiration. I've been following you for over a year now. I've got your page bookmarked in my phone.

    Your blog tips post has helped me so much with my very own blog!

    I was so excited to see this post go up. You did a great job, especially being pregnant! It can be so tough. It looks lovely.

    1. Thank you so much Ashli! And congrats on your blog!

  7. I think it looks lovely!!! I love the tile AND the fireplace!!!

  8. Wow, the basement looks great! Everything is so light and bright ( I like that same feeling in houses). I can't wait to see what you are doing upstairs. It already looked beautiful with the renovations you had already done.

  9. I do a major happy dance every time I see a new post from you! I sincerely appreciate your honesty with us, the readers. I'm sure it would be so much easier to just glaze over the whoopsies and just share the beautiful transformation you've made without mention of the bumps in the road but as someone who owns a 1980s, needs-a-lot-of-tlc, hot mess of a house myself, I appreciate reading posts from someone who "gets it" and isn't afraid to share it! I often get overwhelmed by the demands my home brings and browsing through pinterest and seeing gorgeous, brand new homes makes it all the more frustrating! Thank you for being real and sharing the struggle….'cause it's real! Ha!

    Also, congratulations on your pregnancy! I'm sure I speak for many others when I say we cannot wait to see what your new little bundle of joy brings to your home and your life!

  10. I love the fireplace painted. It changes the whole look...makes it a lot more up to date looking...not '70's! I do have one ?. Jesse put the tile down in one direction and the installers put it down running the opposite direction. How do you know which way it should run? Is it just preference or is there a right or wrong way of doing it?
    And, also congratulations on having a little one...can't wait to see him/her!

    1. Our flooring contractors suggested we try laying it the opposite way as it apparently makes the room look larger. And they were right! :)

  11. Oh my goodness!! What a gorgeous job you both did! I love the clean white walls, tile on the floor, painted fireplace and the chic rug in the guest bedroom. I was doing a little clappy happy wiggle while I was reading your post. Good on ya girl!! All the best to you. Looking forward to hearing happy baby news soon! :)

  12. I love all of the changes you made. Your home looks beautiful!

  13. I really love your blog, and enjoy the twists and turns of every project. (Easy for me to say, I know -- I'M not the one living through them!) Anyway, I was particularly struck this time by your powerful sharing of not trusting your gut. Hear me out. At my baby shower, the host asked everyone to give me their best piece of mothering advice. The oldest (and wisest) woman in the room told me, "Trust your instinct! You will know your baby better than anyone else in the world. If you think something's wrong, something is wrong. Trust yourself!" Best bit of parenting -- AND decorating! -- wisdom I have ever heard! I have four children, and am grateful that pearl was given to me before my first arrived.
    You have many gifts. Trust them! All the best to you!

  14. Jesse is a Rock Star!! All that hard work and still looking studly...nice. The fireplace makeover in white, love, love, love it! The entire basement overhaul is Fabulous!! The poop tile, oh well, lesson learned. The new silver plank tile is gorgeous, like you Virginia!! This post was awesome and I'm always happy to see it pop-up in my in box.
    Take care.
    Tanja in CA

    1. Ha! Jesse will appreciate that! And I couldn't agree more! Thanks Tanja! xo

  15. You did good, girl! I have to wait longer for each post because I know you are resting a lot..... and I forgive you! What a fantastic job you both did with the basement. Not a great lover of white white myself, but my home is a totally different style to yours, and white suits yours. Well done both, and thanks for all the pics. xx

  16. Hi Virginia, I've been following your blog for about 2 years now and I've never commented! Not sure why, I think I thought bloggers couldn't really enjoy trawling through all the comments from readers, but now that I've started my own blog I know that that isn't the case! So I just wanted to say hi, and I love your style of writing, and you inspired me to take the plunge and paint my first piece of furniture 2 years ago, so thank you. And a HUGE congratulations on your pregnancy, I am so happy for you and Jesse! Enjoy the last couple of weeks before your life changes forever...for the better though :)
    And if you ever want to cast your eye over an Irish blog you have inspired, it's ;)


    1. That's so awesome! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, LInda! xo

  17. I was so excited to see this post from you! Everything looks so beautiful and I love the tile you chose. I could only think "Bless your heart" while reading this as I would have also cried and probably given up after the "poop-tile" fiasco, but I think you did the right thing paying to have it fixed. Our basement reno has also been stretching on for 5 months now and it encourages me to see your final product. Because some weeks when we are not able to make progress, I feel like its NEVER going to be done. Also, I love the painted wall; we have been going back and forth on painting our ugly brick fireplace downstairs, and it sure brightens up the room! You look beautiful and I can't wait till we can "meet" your little girl! Take Care!

    1. Oh, I know that feeling so well, Mary! Keep at it, you'll eventually get there and it will feel so good when you do!! Thank you for all of your sweet words!

  18. A) I think you and me are style soulmates. I want everything to be fresh and light and airy and welcoming and comfy!!!!
    B) My boyfriend and I are not style soulmates. He wants everything to be stained deep colors and not painted and oh lord decorating his house is gonna be a true test in our relationship. (Granted, all I've done so far is add a hutch I redid and made it like - clean - his old roommates were like baboons.... - and he loves it. But yea, getting from bachelor pad to your kinda home is going to take a lot of convincing and pleading lol).
    C) I'm saving this post. FOrever. and for always. lol

  19. I know EXACTLY what you mean about not wanting to poke holes in your newly painted walls. We moved into our house in October and I still haven't hung anything in the 3 rooms we painted. I'm so afraid I'll have decorating regret and just end up with a bunch of holes everywhere lol.

  20. Hi Virginia, I've been reading your blog for over a year now and I love seeing your transformations along with the bumps in the road you encounter. I am currently renovating my 1971 house and I feel the struggle. I absolutely love the tile you selected for your basement, it just so turns out we selected the same but in a 12"x24" format for our main floor kitchen and bathroom and I must say, it is the perfect tile! Congratulations on your pregnancy, all the best to you. I can't wait to see the nursery you have planned :)

    1. That's awesome! Thank you! And I bet that your bathroom is going to be beautiful! xo

  21. Oh my goodness what a difference. Glad y'all sucked it up and got rid of the disaster tile. Learning to trust your instincts is a process and you'll get lots of opportunity to learn with your little one. :-)
    Love the fireplace painted. Totally brightens up the room. Really amazing transformation to the whole basement! (And your hubby rocks!)

  22. Wow, this looks great! We are in the midst of doing massive renovations on our home (and blogging about it along the way), and you are definitely part of my inspiration when decorating! Good luck with the house and the baby!



  23. A delightful post! You crack me up. You are real. You are funny. And you and your husband rocked the renovations. Congrats! What a great job! Everything looks so sparkly, clean, soothing and inviting. (Also, your pregnancy becomes you; nice photo).

  24. I've been reading your blog for a couple of years and have enjoyed seeing all of your amazing renovations. But I think this may be my favorite one! Everything looks so clean and fresh, and looks like a spot where you'll enjoy spending a lot of time. I like the way you're so honest about missteps and how you fixed them. Your posts have given me a lot of inspiration in updating my house, which was built in 1980. I'm currently painting all the dark-stained doors and trim, which is a big job, but so worth the effort. I'm totally jealous that you have such a handy and willing husband to do your bidding! Lol I'm a widow, so I'm doing all of my renovations myself, and it's slow going. You've shown me that slow and steady certainly wins the design race! I'm looking forward to your next post and can't wait to see photos of your precious little one!

    1. Thank you so much Valerie! And good luck with all of the painting! :)

  25. Virginia, I sure wish I knew you because we would be friends (or I'd want to be friends!) You crack me up but at the same time inspire me! My hubby always wonders why I keep bursting out in laughter and I read him what you wrote! Great job on the basement. Glad you also went with your gut in the end. The floors and fireplace look great!

    Hope your last few weeks waddling go smoothly!

  26. I adored reading this. My partner and I can't afford a house yet but when we can i really hope its an old house full of character like yours and Jesse's. I've already got visions of colours, flooring and bathroom tiles.
    Well done to you both (yes he's certainly a keeper! My partners much the same and isnt bothered about the house we'll have as long as a little section of it can be 'his'), not only doing this massive project but doing it while pregnant. I have to admit that i love the original stone fireplace but when i saw the after photos and how bright and beautifull it looked you could tell that it just 'fit'. On a side note i want that flooring! Its stunning (and i dont mean the poop brown) well done, my hats off to you, it was a massive project and it looks simply breathtaking. I hope that one day you'll share little bubba's nursery with us and i'd love to know you bright, airy take on it.
    Kirsty xx

  27. It's looking all your choices. You have great taste so go with your gut and ignore others that do not agree with your choices. Only you and your husband (kitties) and soon baby live there and only your taste matters. Look forward to your future posts. Take care.

  28. What an amazing transformation! First off I absolutely love the painted fireplace, it looks stunning and really opens up the space aswell as fit with the rest of the style of the house. Can't wait to see what is going on upstairs! Your posts are so funny, they totally cracked me up and Jesse is definitely the best husband, but hey sometimes you need to make a mistake to know exactly what you don't want :)

    1. So true (at least for me!!)! Thanks Lindsay!

  29. Awesome post Virginia. You made my Monday morning so much more enjoyable reading this. It's inspiring me to change some things in my own room here. Hope you had a great Mother's Day weekend!

  30. Wowzas! Very lovely! Now will you come help me with my house? :)

  31. I stumbled upon your blog - and can't tell you how happy I am! I am currently in the process of shopping for a house to buy. Being single, my home purchase budget keeps me in the fixer-upper, needs TLC house market. Every home I've loved has gorgeous white woodwork - but is out of my budget! I'm not afraid of a little work, but don't have the know-how or vision that you do! Thank you so much for sharing your before and after photos and the awesome step by step instructions! Every room that you've done is absolutely gorgeous! You give me hope that I too will have a home as beautiful as yours someday! Quick question: when you paint window trim, do you also paint the exterior trim or just ignore the brown that you might see on the outside?

  32. You've done such a great job! Love how easy breezy everywhere looks and the bathroom IS amazing!

  33. The basement looks beautiful...
    I'd love to redo our basement (Think burgandy accent wall and cream-ish other walls) but I promised my fiance that Id let him do what he wants if I could have the spare room to myself.
    I'll just live through you.. lol
    33 weeks!! Woop Woop !!

  34. Looks amazing!! Makes me want to rip up my floors and paint LOL

  35. Where are the rugs from? I absolutely love them, along with everything else of course!

  36. I have been following your blog for a little over a year now and I love your taste! Your home is beautiful. I have been using your tips and photos as inspiration for my own DIY renovations. You have helped me with everything from thrift shopping to putting together my own headboard. THANK YOU! I was wondering where you go that desk chair in the basement bedroom. I've been looking for the exact chair for a month now. I have been able to find it on Amazon and Overstock but no where else. Do you have any tips?

    Congratulations on your pregnancy! I'm sure her nursery will be breathtaking.

  37. I really enjoy reading your blog posts and seeing the before and after photos. I'm from England and envying the "thrift" shops you have over in the U.S. (I guess they're the equivalent of our charity shops though I've never managed to find anything decent in them.)

    I think it's great how you also showed the mistakes you made and talked through the decision making process - it's always healthy to remind ourselves that we're only human!

    Congratulations on the birth of Ava!


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