Sometimes Green Isn’t Good – Inexpensive Cellarway Revamp (Long Overdue)

Last summer (yes, I realize there’s snow on the ground), I started a project in my cellarway. It started out deep forest green – nearly EVERYthing. Throw in filthy old linoleum and a cheesy little wooden rack with apples on it that couldn’t have supported the weight of my everyday keys and it just seemed like a huge joke of a space. It was dark and cave-like, and with what we’re hoping to do this winter in the basement, it seemed like a horrible first impression to the rest of the cellar. Here’s the proof:

Cubby of Horror

Had to get rid of these puppies. Just too out-dated, and an inexpensive fix.
A Shot Looking Down the Stairway. Yuck.
The carpeting that was on the stairs prior – including Scotch tape “X” (?!)
Sexy brass light…had to go!

After removing everything, including the carpeting.
Disgusting Stairs…
No. Words.
What we had in mind…
(Not the ottoman, though. That’s found a permanent home in the living room.)

With little to spend on the project, I was at first apprehensive to consider the use of stick-on linoleum tiles. But, over 5 months later, they’re holding strong and clean up in a breeze — and can be replaced easily, if need be. (No need for that yet.) We also added the VERY FIRST PURCHASE I ever made for the house (seriously, we hadn’t closed and I bought them at Bargain Outlet while sitting on pins ‘n needles) — carpet treads which, it’s hard to tell here, are actually tones of brown, beige, and gray.

We also invested in the following changes: white semi-gloss for trim and previously unfinished wood shelving and railing (still considering whether the wood door should be painted — the design is so classic, I’m a little scared – but what better place to try it than the basement, right?), a creamy tan to brighten the walls and ceiling, a white shelf with accompanying brushed nickel scroll supports, modern-print storage baskets, silver edging for the stairs and…and, just check out the pictures. 😉

It may still be a little messy, but it’s all
bright white! It helps.

Hmm. To paint (the door and its woodwork)
or not to paint…THAT is the question.
(Oh, and that big rolled-up rug is for our
eventual hang-out space in the basement.)
New beige and crisp white paint, a brushed nickel
sconce (to replace the old, outdated brass one fixture),
and a close-up of the brushed-nickel/espresso wood
hanging system.
Sorry so blurry. Got a couple of storage bins
and a new white shelf with brushed nickel fixtures, now
hiding some random box that was built into the wall
(and is completely unusable, as far as I know).

Like I said, I’m still considering painting the door, but since we’ll be doing plenty of exterior painting when the thaw comes, I figured on finishing that at the same time (if I can work up the guts). The other side of the door needs a painting, as does the threshold (which is still dark green…ick!). The stairs continuing down cellar need their old, dirty carpet treads pulled up, then a good scrubbing and painting, then new treads. Oh, and I’d like to put backs on the stairs if possible since I’d like for Beardslee and Winston to be able to wander and possibly do their bid-niss down there, and they both have a tendency to want to jump through the openings — ack, not safe! (I know; they’re cats, they jump.) Then, it’s the REST of the cleaning, shelf-building, bathrooming, painting, etc etc etc of the basement. Lots to do and can’t WAIT until it’s usable!!!

Oh, and, BTW – we’re pretty cheap. Or, at least, we’re TRYING to be pretty cheap…without putting “crap” into our house. There are times to spend, and this wasn’t really one of them. So, all-in-all, we felt better spending a little bit of money because we knew that, well, a) it would help modernize the house a bit and, hopefully, help with resale value and b) we had some gift cards from our wedding shower that were burning a hole in our pocket — and rather than blow them all on one thing, we’d spend, say, $20 TOWARDS an entire project, making us feel like we got 50% off an item (don’t you love huge sales?! We made sales on our own!) and better that we were left with now gift cards left. The rundown was approximately the following:

– rug treads ~ $4 (yeah, really)
– shelf & scroll holders ~ $22
– storage baskets ~ $17
– paint ~ $12 (already had the white)
– flooring tiles ~ $12 (seriously)
– hook board ~ $21
– sconce ~ $14
(and everything else was elbow grease or something we already had)

So, the total was around $102. But, considering we took about (honestly, possibly MORE than) 50% off of this total, we paid around $51 for our cellarway makeover. Honestly, when we first stepped into the house, this was the entrance that the realtor took us through, so it meant a lot that I could change it and, hopefully, make anyone else’s first impression with the place a lot more cheerful. Here’s hoping your impressions of it are happy ones.

Post-Wedding Plans

Howdy, all! Things here at the McCoy-Dellecese household have obviously been pretty busy lately. The school year is well under way, the theater season has started…and, oh yeah, our wedding is ONE WEEK from this Saturday.

Holy crap! It’s so easy to liken it to doing a show. You prepare and plan and organize and even kinda practice (girls? Wedding shoes? Am I right?) and lose sleep thinking that you must be missing something. You want it to be fun for all your guests (audience?) and as the end is near, you finally realize that, wait, why are you doing this in the first place? Obviously, to get the “job done”, but WE have to have some fun, too. Some unavoidable mishaps are inevitable; just like live theater, wedding planning is impossible to control completely. But, boy, does it take over your thought process in the meantime.

So, that’s where I’ve been the last month! Things are coming together pretty nicely. Heck, we’ve got the license and rings, so we could just do it tonight if we wanted to…but, we’re SO looking forward to seeing our friends and family (many of whom are traveling quite a way to get here!) and giving them a bit of a party to get to know each other and celebrate, well, love!

But, what about AFTER the wedding? Dave and I are itching to get going on a project or two (or more) around the house. Here’s what we’ve got in mind?

#1: MAKING THE BASEMENT USABLE: You’ve seen my post about my basement inspiration as far as decor goes (if you haven’t, check it out here). First, however, we’ll obviously have to do some prep work. Any time you’re working in the basement (especially when you’re trying to make the space more livable through the use of furniture and decor), waterproofing is essential. So, we’ve got some cement walls to scrape, a few patches to fill and Drylok to apply.

We’re deciding to take my stepdad’s advice and only apply a foot or so of Drylok around the perimeter of the basement. Why? First, it’s cheaper. Second, the only areas that we’ve had moisture problems have been where the floor meets the wall. Oh, and we’re not just doing the wall; we’ll be coming down onto the floor 6-12″s, as well.

After Dryloking (which will inevitably be a project, since we’ll be applying a few thin layers), we’ll be painting the walls a creamy tan to modernize and brighten things up. The floors will be painted a light brown to coordinate and hide dirt.

We’d like to have these projects done before the snow flies. That way, any additional work down there can pretty easily be done on our schedule, regardless of weather. Don’t want to paint when the walls are freezing, but working on adding storage and decor can definitely be done in a cozy fashion.

In addition to working on the laundry area, additional living space, and hopefully a half bath, we’ve got extra room for some storage! In a 1920s house that is full of closets — TINY ones — extra storage is a must. We have a cut-out space on the far side of the house that is just begging for pantry shelving. Yay! My potatoes and onions can actually store, unspoiled! Plus, there’s an awkward area in the center of the whole shebang that seems useless — except for storage that we only need to access every once in awhile. (Y’know, Christmas decorations, tubs full o’ our childhood and adult memories.)

The space under the stairs also needs some work to make it a safe place for Beardslee to hang out — which he can’t WAIT for! He loves “discovering” the basement. Plus, we can finally move his potty space down there (right under the stairs) now that his cough has gotten better. Man, is this basement going to be a huge multi-tasker! How have we lived using it so unwisely so long? 😉

#2: MINI-BATHROOM RENO: We have one bathroom. We MAY be adding one (is it sick that I dream and wish about it?) half bath, like I said, in the basement. For now, one bathroom is all we have and, honestly, it’s all we need. Sure, it’s small. Compared to the bathroom that I left behind in my old apartment, where you could easily practice ballroom dancing, this one is awkwardly-shaped (the 3rd bedroom, aka office, closet juts into the room — and bedroom minus closet equals no more bedroom AND a lower home value…yeah, we ain’t movin’ nothin’) and just fits the toilet, sink, bathtub, and built-in storage.

Our goal? (Well, mine.) Three words: modernize, modernize, modernize! We’ll chip away the tiny tiles that cover the bottom half of the walls, cover with white bead-board (and finish with chair rail), paint the rest of the walls, add some new towel hangers, then turn my attention to the built-in and shower. The tub is a brown-ish color and, if I can get an eco-friendly heavy-duty cleanser, I’ll keep it. It’s in good shape and I’m a little lazy; tubs are frickin’ HARD to move! But, the surround was put in improperly. I’ll be consulting my stepdad for options (I’d LOVE to put subway tile just on the shower interior to add some more value and interest, but a new surround to replace the now-torn one would also work). Ah, and the floors need some consistency — I had considered tiling, but since we’re still trying to determine how long we’ll be here, I know that vinyl tiles may help achieve what I want easily and cheaply. Then, I’ll turn my attention to the currently-ugly built-in cabinetry. I’d like open storage, so I’ve just gotta continue brainstorming. Overall, I’d like to go for a spa-feel. Heard it before? 😉
#3: KITCHEN CABINETS: We have two cabinetry./counter areas in our kitchen. One is as old as the house and would be impossible to move — and we don’t need to, we just need to clean them up and give them a new countertop. The other…well, to put it bluntly, is a piece of crap. The previous owners put in a CHEAP press-board sink cabinet and let’s just say that I cry every time I open them. They had a leak issue with the faucet and didn’t bother to fix it. So, what were we left with? A rotted-through bottom. So, while we have some cleaning supplies in there, it reeks to open it and I can’t take advantage of the storage as I’d like. It just needs an update!!!! My loving future-husband (I’d say “hubby” but he hates that) has promised that, before too long, I’ll at least get new a new sink area. We’re also pretty much constantly pricing new appliances, although we’re lucky that these (as with the washer/dryer) were F-R-E-E!!!!

We’ve got lots of other must-do’s around the house (can you say “tree”?!), but for now, these are where our priorities lie. Anyone else out there have some fun to-do’s helping to distract you from other things — be it work…or wedding planning? 😉

Basement Inspiration

So, I need to make a confession. I LOVE LOVE LOOOOVE Polyvore. It may not be a perfect program, but it’s fun, free and helps me to make mood boards that I can actually utilize when looking for projects around the house. I can’t redecorate in one fell swoop (Reasons? #1: money, #2: time. Duh. ;-)) but this gives me inspiration, and the time lapse gives me flexibility. If I find something on the cheap at TJ Maxx or the Christmas Tree Shop out and about that comes close to what I’ve created, well great! I prefer it that way! Plus, I get to be a little creative, so it’s win-win.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a HUGE fan of Young House Love, which is a blog about design and home improvement, among other things. They’re one of the main reasons I thought to start a blog, myself. So, I think I’ll take a mini-vacation from my usual posts and share with you my latest mood board — for our basement, which we’re working on cleaning out and, throughout the summer, waterproofing, painting, and organizing (yet again). We’ve got some additional projects in mind, like adding a 1/2-full bath and creating unified storage areas, but we’re not sure if those will all happen this summer…remember, we’re also planning a wedding. 😉

So, with no further ado…

There are actually three spaces listed: the Living Space, the Laundry Area, and the Possible Bath. These areas are separate; there will be unfinished basement space separating them (it’s a pretty good-sized basement). Since I know we’ll be using a tan paint (either colored Drylok or a paint over the Drylok-ed areas) on most of the foundation walls , I wanted to come up with color schemes that would work with it. Here are some of my ideas:

The Living Space:
-See that curtain on the upper left? I’m thinking of using outdoor curtains on one of the walls to add textural interest and a little bit of insulation. I did research and got the inspiration from this picture; somehow I always feel like I can do something after I’ve heard that others have done it and didn’t have issues. Needless to say, I’m pretty nervous about decorating in a basement — I’ve seen floods and all the damage they can do, but our house is so small we HAVE to make it usable space.
– The color scheme I chose for this room includes beiges and tans as well as greens, turquoise and darker brown. This room will be the most finished (probably including flooring, which may or may not be a chocolately faux wood laminate). When we eventually invest in a new living room set, we’ll be putting our coffee table, couch and chair in this space — so it’ll have lots goin’ on. We already have an extra entertainment center (along with TV — moving 2 apartments into one house does that to ya) for the space, too.

The Laundry Area:
– The black-and-white flooring is actually leftover from our kitchen flooring project last year. If we have enough to make it look good, it’ll also be in the bathroom. So, as with our kitchen, I LOVE a light turquoise (almost Tiffany’s blue) accent, so I’d like to paint out the cement walls in this area bright blue. To tie in with the living room, some pops of lime green will help modernize the space, too. (Baskets, waste basket…any other items I can pick up.)
– To continue the curtain theme, I’m planning on running an industrial steel wire line from the two outside walls of the space and hang grommeted curtains so that we can close off the space or create an “entryway” (a bit of a continued inspiration from the picture).
– Yeah. We don’t have a HE front loading washer/dryer yet…we’re keeping an eye out for sales and “out of box” choices. We’re lucky enough to have a F-R-E-E set right now, but our eventual goal is all-new appliances, upstairs and down. *crosses fingers*

The Bathroom
– As I mentioned, the floor will be checkered. If it’s a half bath, it’ll just have the sink and potty (yes, I call it a potty), so the turquoise towels would be pretty irrelevant. Keeping the whole space a bright tan; crisp, clean white; and sharply contrasting black (check out that fluffy black throw rug! I bought one for my mom’s updated bathroom and she loves it) would be enough. Throwing in a pop of turquoise would be easier with the shower, if it happens. I’m fine if it doesn’t; just having an extra place to *ahem* use would be awesome, especially when kids, one day, will be using the basement to play and have sleepovers.

So, as things get underway, I’ll be updating with photos of the progress. As with most things, I assume this will probably take longer than we expect it to — most projects have been broken up into parts, each of which will make its own timeline. Plus, with a cat who loooooves to look around the basement area (especially when the rest of the house isn’t necessarily cool) and will do anything to be where we are, it should be pretty interesting. 🙂