If you're one of my few readers who knows me in real life, you also know that I'm a professor at a large university here in Chicago. We're getting hit with a crazy snowstorm today and the administration canceled classes, meaning we have a SNOW DAY, one of those sweet free days that makes you feel like you've cheated the system and somehow gotten extra time. I've spent most of today catching up on work and writing an article that's (over)due, but decided to take a break and photograph my basement, so that I could do a before and after for you. The basement is one of my favorite spaces in the house, and is super duper cozy, especially in the winter. Before showing you the finished product, here's a quick photo of what it looked like before I moved in:
And another, after I had some of my furniture in, but before the walls were painted:
As you can see, the basement was more or less a dungeon. I don't think the previous owners really used it very much, except for storage purposes. The carpet was dingy, there was barely any furniture, and gag! Look at that slate tile around the fireplace!
Well, here's a first shot of how it looks now, before I break things down a little:
Massive improvement, I think. Like I said, I wanted this to be a space that I would enjoy spending time in, since 1) I feel like it's a waste of space to have a finished basement that never gets used, and 2) since I only have a small-ish TV in my main floor living room, I bought a gigantic TV for the basement (it's a man's TV - a whopping 55") and wanted the room to be comfy cozy so that I, and my guests, would like being down here if I/we wanted to watch a movie or something.
So let's take this tour step by step. First things first, I painted the walls Behr's "Road Runner," which is a really lovely light gray with just the tiniest plummy undertone. I like the color so much that I also used it to paint my home office. Some pics of the painting, in progress:
I wanted to take a panoramic shot of the basement from a vantage point on the stairs, but since my cameras are all crappy, I didn't have a wide enough lens to do that. So here's what the room looks like, in three separate images, going from the front of the house toward the back:
That couch used to be in the living room of my old condo and is really big - something like 9 feet long and 46" deep. It's super comfy and a great sofa for lounging/TV watching. The marble coffee table (which I love, love, love) was a $30 craigslist score and the overdyed rug was a pretty good deal - can't remember what I paid now - that I got on sale from Rugs USA. The poufs are burgundy leather and were an eBay find; the dresser is IKEA malm in the whitewashed oak color; the picture hanging to the right of the fireplace is also from IKEA; the white bench under that picture was made by my dad and painted by me; the small faux bamboo shelf/stand to the right of the fireplace is from Nadeau Chicago. The pictures above it are my grandmother's old high school photos in floating frames I got from Target; the trophies are from thrift stores, etsy, and eBay. The mercury glass lamps and paper shades behind the couch are from Target, and the mirror above the fireplace is from Home Goods.
Phew! Some close ups and other angles:
There's that big TV again!
It was hard to get a close up of the top photo, but here's a close up of the bottom one. My grandmother is in the top row, second from the left.
Yes, that record you see is "John Denver's Greatest Hits." Don't judge: it used to be my dad's.
Some of these trophies are quite strange. Case in point:
It reads, "Best Meat Bird - Mannheim Fair - 1955." Must have been a pretty tasty bird.
The old sconces in the basement before were heinous, and so I splurged and bought these awesome lights from Restoration Hardware (damn it; they're on sale now for $89 each! I paid $129 for each and it KILLS me to see them on sale now). But anyway - they look fantastic and kind of work as spotlights for the pictures below them.
Just take a look at that coffee table again. Solid marble top (it weights a ton) and awesome vintage base. Lordy, there are so many steals to be found on craigslist.
You might be asking yourself, what happened to all that ugly slate around the fireplace? Well, lemme tell you what happened to it. I PAINTED IT! That's right: I considered getting it re-tiled when I moved in, but then remembered that I had no money whatsoever for that kind of project, and was inspired by Erin Gates' re-painted fireplace in her new house on her blog, Elements of Style. I believe I took some pictures of the painting while it was in progress, but basically I primed it with a foam roller, let it dry, and then foam-rolled it in Behr's "Stealth Jet," eggshell finish, which I had left over after painting my front entryway. The whole project took about an hour and a half and I was totally thrilled by how easy it was, and how awesome the end product looked:
The previous owners didn't have a gas log set in the fireplace, either, so that was one of the first things I installed after I moved in. It was a pretty penny, but worth every cent, since basements can be cold anyway, and with the fire on, this is pretty much the coziest room in Chicago.
Last but not least, I rigged up a skirted table for behind the couch, since I wanted it to be closer to the fireplace and TV, but it looked weird just hanging out three feet off the wall. Plus, I needed a sofa table, but didn't want to spend too much money, and since the couch is so long, it was nearly impossible to find a table that was long enough to span the entire length of the sofa. The table I made might be one of the DIY projects I'm most proud of. I'll post step by step photos later, since this post is getting long, but here are a few shots of how it turned out:
Since it looks like this outside today...
...I've been spending most of my time today in the basement with the fireplace on, watching old episodes of "Downton Abbey," reading, grading, and writing. All in all, not a bad way to spend a snow day!
Thanks for checking out my basement!!!