Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Meet Our Basement

When we moved into our home about 1 and 1/2 years ago, our basement looked something like this (plus a ton of stuff we were storing down there):
Future Fireplace Wall

Future Play Room

Future Wet Bar and Bathroom Areas

Last year at this time, our basement looked like this:
Framed in Play Room

Framed in Wet Bar Area

Framed in Entry into our Exercise Room

Framed in Entry into our Bathroom and Guest Room

We decided to finish our basement last fall in order to serve two main functions:
1.  We wanted a large play area for our kids, especially for use during the brutal and long Minnesota winters.  2.  We wanted a separate guest area (bedroom and bathroom) to allow for out of town visitors to spend time comfortably in our home. This function is especially important for my family, since they all live out of the state.

Phase One
The decision was made to finish our basement in two phases (like our landscaping project:)). The goal of the first phase was to complete the basic 'finished basement' plan which included laying out a floor plan, framing, sheet rocking, plumbing, electrical, and low voltage. We also included a few 'extras' that would be more costly and messy to complete at a later time like a fireplace and pillars around our play room and two drywall arches.

Our basement currently looks something like this (I didn't stage anything here, so be prepared for a little cluttery real world mess:)):
This is the view you see as you come down the stairs and look straight ahead.  It's a craft area for the kiddos!

The area where this book shelf is sitting will be turned into a wet bar in the future.

This view is from the stairs looking to the right.  The door on the left is the bathroom shown in the next image.    The door on the right leads to our guest room.

Our Basement Bathroom

In this photo, you can see the edge of the guest room door on the far left.  The double doors on the right lead to our current exercise/storage room which is far from photo ready.  We also had this space pre-wired to be a theater room in the future.

This image was taken directly outside the exercise room described in the last photo.  In the future, this space may be filled with built in cabinetry for a nice adult crafting area.  For now, it is a child focused play area that doesn't get much use.  

If you turn to the left after walking down the stairs, you'll see the family room portion of our basement finish.  

Our dedicated play area is just off the family room.

Overall the basement is really nice, and is the perfect play space for our kids!

Phase Two
Phase two of our basement finishing plan will include adding stone to the fireplace area and built in cabinetry on either side of the fireplace to store games and tv components. Additionally, phase two will include finishing out the wet bar area with custom cabinetry and a nice counter top. The wet bar area already has plumbing ready to go and electrical as well. 

Current Plan for Our Basement
While we save our pennies and ponder our options, we're planning on sprucing up the basement a bit this winter DIY style (ie: low cost since a few of the ideas we have will be replaced with upgraded finishes in the future). Since the number one focus for this space is kid friendly living and playing, we plan to use durable and/or inexpensive furnishings in kid friendly colors and styles. Key functions for the space include:
  1. Kid craft area
  2. Kid snack area
  3. Kid computer area
  4. Comfortable TV viewing area
  5. Play grocery store and kitchen
  6. Play stage 
  7. Reading nook
  8. Large motor play area

In addition to the kid focused goals above, we also want to create an inviting area to entertain since our guest room is in this area as well.  We also would like to get some window treatments up in the very near future!

Here are some inspiration images:

My inspiration is clearly all over the place, but we have a good deal of space to work with.  First item on the basement decorating agenda is a new couch or a sectional or two couches. We're having the hardest time deciding which option would make the most sense in the space. We've already decided on the IKEA Ektorp product line with a white (gasp!) slipcover. After reading lots about the most kid friendly upholstery choices, it seems that leather and white slipcovers come out on top. Leather furniture can obviously be wiped down easily should spills occur, and white slipcovers can be washed and bleached if stains happen. The IKEA Ektorp couches and sectionals are very budget friendly with a 3 seat couch costing $399 with a white slipcover (replacement slipcovers are only $49), and a sectional is $799 with a white slipcover (replacement slipcovers are $99).

Our space would allow for a sectional, two couches, or one couch in combination with the two rocker recliners that we already own in the space.

Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of each option:

1. Cozy corner piece would be fun for having the entire family cuddle on the couch
2. Smaller size sectional, allows great room for playing

1. Seating is limited with corner piece.  Maximum of 5 adults on couch
2. Decreased ability to switch up sofas throughout the house for a summer and winter look:).
3. Would require a console table on one wall to push the sectional in the room and center it (or I guess it could float)

Two Couches
1. Seating for 6 adults!
2. Versatility with changing couches around within the room.

1. It would take up a good deal of space within the room.

One Couch
1. Cost: $399 vs. $799 cost of 2 couches or 1 sectional
2. Versatility with changing couches around within the home (ie: white slipcovered couch could come upstairs for a summer look when we aren't using the basement as much.)

1. Adult seating of 3, but we would have additional 2 rocking chairs for a total of 5.

We've never owned a sectional before, but for some reason the idea of snuggling up with the kids on an 'L' shaped sectional sounds dreamy to us even though it might more practical sense to buy a single 3 seat couch. I like to try new things, and I just this minute discovered that since the sectional is on the small size, it would fit in our great room for some variety down the road (which is important for someone who likes to switch things up like I do). The ability to entertain a good number of people is important to us, but we only do that a couple times a year, so it seems more practical to choose an option that makes sense for our immediate family.

Basically, we want an option that fits our family, but provides flexibility as well. Our goal is to have a new couch/couches/sectional in our basement by Thanksgiving, which will be the next time we host relatives for a long weekend. If anyone has any feedback about sectionals vs. couches, we'd love to hear it!


  1. Wow ! what an interesting blog.Thanks for sharing this information.Your information is really informative for us.
    Nice blog on basement bathroom ideas.
    Keep sharing more & more.....

  2. Nice post. Thank you for sharing this information.
    Basement Finishing