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sconce (to replace the old, outdated brass one fixture),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.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Actually so jealous of this picture. Dirty secret time:
I have a huge crush on these wide-plank wood floors.
*drools like Homer*

Go ahead and sing along. Yes, the corny Johnny Mathis version. Don’t scoff or sneer, it really is a wonderful time of the year. For me, this is the time of the year when, for whatever reason, the most good gets done around Casa de Dellecese.

Last year, we were fast approaching our first holiday season in our very own house. I’m not sure why, but we got on a painting kick — first, the dining room; then, the living room. The dining room took place at the time of year when the pace of activities REALLY picks up — ie I wasn’t a huge fan of getting the job done, but Dave encouraged me that it needed to be done, sooner rather than later. So, using a couple of evenings in the middle of a hectic week, I rolled a more muted red over a *POW* of purple paint — much more rich and less in-your-face. Unfortunately, I was so miserable, I failed to put a 3rd coat on. It’s not THAT noticeable, but to me…of course, it is. Still gotta get on that one. Nothing’s ever quite *perfect*.

The following weekend, we rolled up our sleeves to lighten up our living room. It had been a deep brownish taupe; a good color, but just too dark for a living room. So, while we picked up the new red tone for the dining room, we grabbed a lighter taupe for the living room, and a back-up sandy color swatch as a back-up option.

This just happened to occur during the first weekend that it snowed, so there we were with the room torn apart, newspaper (always reusing, even before we were aware we were doing it, hee hee) everywhere, and Christmas music blaring from our local “Christ-Mix” radio channel (no, not necessarily Christian; the “i” is short). I’ve gotta tell ya that the feeling of FINALLY giving in to the Christmas hype every year definitely helps when you’re undertaking a labor-intensive DIY project. The experience brought Dave and I together more (it was one of the first projects we actually did TOGETHER, even though we’d been in the house for a good 6 months) and also taught me a valuable lesson: If you’re the better painter, odds are you’ll get stuck doing a majority of the painting. Dave’s incredibly talented at many, many things in this life; I’m envious of him for a lot of wonderful traits and characteristics. However, painting is one that he does not excel at. He can roll, for the most part, but who was the one at the top of the ladder when it was past bedtime, brush in hand? That’d be me. Whose partner-in-crime was holding a bright flashlight (lots of shadows!!!) saying what a great job she was doing? That’d be Dave. We’re good like that, though.

I LOVE the color of our living room. It’s a modern tan, yet “fits” with the age of the house. It made Christmas decorating a lot more fun.

Oh, and one final DIY project I performed before some holiday relaxation: a bit of a makeover surprise. My ever-sweet, -willing besties, Mary (my sis) and Beth (best friend for yyyyyears) came over the morning of Christmas Eve (while Dave worked — a shortened day, so we had to haul hiney) to help me empty, paint, and redecorate our tiny front “sun room.” It’s a room we were never able to use — here are the “before” and “after” shots. Man, was he shocked when he got home to see a new seating area, storage areas, etc. Oh, and the color was the other paint chip that we had picked as a possibility for the living room — which Dave preferred.

Sorry, no “cluttered, full o’ crap” “before” shot. I’d already moved it all out.
The antique rocking chair from my grandpa’s house.
Means so much to have it.

Any home improvement projects going on around your place this time of year? I know several of our good friends are going through the process of purchasing homes — eek! Good luck to you all! Us, we just put in a new front door (SO MUCH SAFER!!! I’ll be posting about it soon) and are making plans of projects around the house when the white stuff finally starts to stick – dependent, of course, on the newlywed/Christmas budget. 😉 Don’t want anyone thinking that I’m not realistic or that we’re not normal. Money is not endless. Home improvement project plans, apparently, are. Planning, however, is free.

How to Be a Child

Lately, I’ve been itching for something more creative in my life. I do theater, but it’s on hiatus for the summer, and I’m feeling pretty durn anti-social. I’ve tried writing, and will continue to try it, but it’s not quenching my proverbial thirst. Although, I must say, GoogleDocs is our new best friend in the McCoy-Dellecese household — you can write from anywhere, share it with anyone (or no one), and you don’t need a server of your own.

The more I think about it, I’d like to delve into painting and drawing again. As children, when we were bored, our go-to activity was always drawing. The question we had back then holds true today — “Mom, what do I draw?” (delete the “Mom” part — and, no matter if it was my mother or grandfather, the answer was always “a barn”). Then, throughout childhood and adolescence, we turned to music and experienced less art — mostly because art classes were electives held during the same periods as band and chorus (and we were in both — “we” meaning my sister and brother; Bill was more of a band geek than a drama guy).

So, when I reached community college and needed some artistic electives, I decided to take drawing AND painting — all in the same semester, with the same teacher. There wasn’t a lot of direction, which I loved. Mostly inspiration. “Bowl of fruit, go.” I’d throw on my Walkman (how out-dated) and just paint…or draw. Always loved charcoal. And acrylics, but mostly for their clean-up factor (and color — there’s only so much life you can give to charcoal).

It’s not that I’m even very good. I’m not, really. But, how do we get good at things without trying?

So, while I have no idea WHAT I’ll paint (or draw), I’m going to get the drawing pads back out and purchase some new paint (I have found ZERO eco-friendly acrylic-style paints worth their price or even make-your-own paint recipes! Grr!!) — at least to possibly get some artwork in a couple of our bare rooms. And, if the mood strikes me, I’ll keep working on those just-started works on GoogleDocs. 😉

I think that simply the process of creating something forces you to let go of your self doubt and questioning and, in a way, become a child again. Kids don’t say “that sucked, I quit” (unless they’re O.C.D.); they don’t care if someone else likes it or not. And, of course, when you get better and make something that you can be proud about, your self esteem rises, and isn’t that just great? Kind of reminds me of how I feel when I make a successful recipe.

So, off to Michael’s and PetSmart (and, possibly, TJ Maxx) to keep life happy — a happy cat, some room decor inspiration, and trying to “practice” at something again.