A Basement Thank You

The basement’s finished! The last couple of months have consisted of buying materials, working ‘til 1 am, and having nightmares about falling walls and flooding houses. By the end, I was totally sleep deprived and exhausted. The total cost was nearly three times what I had budgeted, but it’s done and was still worth it!

I had a last minute open house last night because a tenant’s possibly moving in at the end of the week. Only a few people could make it out with about 5 hours notice and such dreadful weather, but it was great little intimate gathering!

Now that the craziness is over, I’m hoping to find some normal again! I was excited to work on a creative construction project, but I also wanted to use all the materials I’d been collecting over the years and create a space that would help cover some monthly expenses with its rental income.

Now, I’m trying to resist the urge to jump right into another project and take some time to look at what I might be running from by staying so busy. I’m going to take a day or two a week off work for a while, which kind of terrifies me financially, but I think it’ll work out.

It’s hard to change, especially when things work pretty well! But I know if I keep going like I have been for the last decade, I’ll miss out on a me that would be less tired, more compassionate, and more connected and giving to the people around me.

Check out the photos below. We finished just in time for my dad’s arrival from Seattle, so he had his own private suite for the week!

This venture was a humbling reminder of how hard it can be to do a truly “green” construction project in an efficient manner. For every zero VOC paint or recycled wood that we used, there was a trailer full of trash or a super toxic floor sealer to counteract it!

Here are some of the recycled things we were able to use:

All the cabinets, shelving, cedar trim, and many of the 2x4s used for framing were from remodeling jobs where they were about to be thrown away. We just primed and painted the cabinets and trim, and they worked great! The countertops are old wooden doors from the Habitat Store. We cut them to size, sanded them down and then I used an all in one Minwax brand Stain/ Polyurethane to stain and seal them. All for a total cost of about $20 bucks! I used a black stain on the main countertop and a golden oak on the island.

The kitchen island is made of some wall cabinets that we turned upside down!

The toilet was nearly new, also from a remodeling job and was about to be smashed to pieces.

I left the ceiling and 2 concrete walls exposed, so it saved on materials and labor and also made for a cool industrial feel.

All of the furniture is second hand, except the barstools, most of it I either used as a kid, or it was passed down from my grandparents. The white church pew came out of my grandparents church in Memphis, TN. The steamer trunk in front of the bed went with my great grandmother on a boat to China in the 20s! And the brass bed was my childhood bed that I used to do gymnastics on!

My mom, aunt, and grandmother took some old brightly colored curtains of mine and used them as fabric to make several beautiful pillows and a bench cushion for the church pew. Chris snatched some burlap coffee sacks from the Red Cat coffeehouse, and my mom turned those into some really cool pillows. And the bathmat is made from recycled t-shirts!

This has been such a group effort, and I’m so grateful for all the people who have helped me. I couldn’t have done this without any one of these people, especially in the timeframe I had to finish.

Christopher Davis has been so awesome, patient and helpful with anything I’ve needed along the way. He’s followed me around for countless outings to thrift stores and Lowe’s and put up with my obsessive question asking and list making. He was there to paint, make coffee for the workers and expertly clean off or organize anything that could be cleaned or organized.

Gabriel Villa Rojas is an amazing carpenter and an incredibly talented and generous human being. I have him to thank for many of the materials he salvaged from other jobs. He patiently stood by while I changed my mind countless times on things he had already nailed in place, and the trim work he did really brought everything together. I would recommend him in a heartbeat, so let me know if you need a good carpenter. (It may take him 6 months to get to it because he’s in such high demand, but he’s worth the wait).

Gabriel’s brother, Abel, helped me with all the plumbing, electrical, framing, HVAC work and hauling away of trash; he did a great job!

Ellis Hopkins is a talented concrete artist, who created the sealer with colorant that I used on the concrete floor.

Asdrubal Cruz, Moises Acuna, and Alexander Cruz along with a few other of their workers, would come to my house at 6:00 at night, after their day jobs to help me with all of the painting.

My mom, Beth, and her boyfriend, Carl Cummins, helped clean off furniture, cabinets, ceilings and stairs.

My roommate, Andy, was incredibly flexible and patient with the constant noise of jackhammers, nailguns and saws and with all the moving around of furniture, a chaotic garage and a house full of dust for two months.

So thank you again to everyone, and I hope you like the photos!










8 thoughts on “A Basement Thank You

Leave a Reply