January 22, 2008

Planning for the Future

We have decided to finish our basement. We plan on staying in this house until Emma leaves the nest and the girls and their friends need space to spread out. This has been a long & difficult decision for us. Almost as difficult as deciding whether or not to have another child. The way I figure it, having a basement will cost much less than having another child. Plus, basements don't talk back. Decision made. Easy peasy.

I want a beach house cottage feel for the basement. That way when we eventually buy a home on the water (in approximately, umm never) I will be all ready to decorate it. It's scary how my mind works, isn't it?

This space is about 1200 square feet which sounds big enough until I start listing all of the things it has to hold: media area, game area, play area, workout area, mini bar, storage, guest quarters and a full bath. I keep reminding myself that my first house was smaller than this and managed to contain 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a family room and an eat in kitchen, so I know it can be done.
I'm nervous because this will be my first home renovation project. I'd love any general advice on renovating & also specific advice about basements that any of you could give me. Tips on keeping costs down would be helpful too!


  1. I love so many of the pictures you posted! I recognize some from Pottery Barn (love, love, love that catalog for inspirations). And I would guess that the light colors of a beach theme would look great in a basement.

    I renovated my kitchen a year and a half ago. I don't know if you'll be doing the basement yourself, or paying someone else to do it, but the biggest mistake I made was not accurately budgeting for the small things. I knew how much the big things would cost - appliances, cabinets, countertops, flooring, lighting, cabinet pulls, faucet. But the plumbing had to be adjusted and the kitchen needed to be rewired, too. My dad and uncle did the work, but I had no idea the materials would cost so much. So whatever you do, when you set up your budget, add in a buffer.

  2. Wow, this is exciting. I love that style, esp. that picture of the bunk beds. So pretty! The wire shelves came from Linens and Things, but Home Depot and Lowes both carry them (I think in a taller version, which would be nice). I bought them b/c I couldnt afford built-ins, but they've grown on me and I dont want to get rid of them now!

  3. I love all the photo's that you posted, especially the one with the window seat. I love the open, airy feeling that all white creates. Good luck on the renovations and keep us up to date.

  4. Good luck on your upcoming project and good for you and staying and remodeling rather than moving. We decided the same years ago and are so glad we did.

    First with a basement, if you have ever had even a drop of moisture in it at any time, deal with that first before remodeling. You'll be glad you did. And you can save a lot of money by having a contractor or carpenter do most of the hard stuff and you do the painting and laying the floor and other things yourself. We did that and it saved us buckets of money.

  5. We finished our basement ourselves. My husband did all of the framing, wiring, and duct work. I did all of the painting, staining and caulking. I am now a caulking pro. That stuff is genious!! The only thing we hired out was the mudding and sanding of the drywall and the carpet laying. It was huge learning experience and totally worth all of our hard work!! We have a bedroom for each of our boys. A family room and a theatre room.

    Try to do as much of the work as you can on your own and take your time. It took us about a year and we payed as we went as we do not believe in credit cards. I checked out lots of books from the library and made several trips to the book store.

    Definately like she said in the previous post, make sure your basement is bone dry before you begin!!

    Good Luck!! I'm sure it will turn out beautiful and give your family that much needed extra space!!

  6. 1) 1200 square feet is bigger than my WHOLE house!
    2) check out www.bejane.com for ideas and instructions (including videos!) on all manner of DIY stuff.
    3) Maybe think about adding a second entrance from outside into the basement. For guests or in case of a fire.
    4) Good luck! (though I would have loved to see you decorate a nursery).

  7. Love all of the pictures!! I think you are really going to have fun with it. Try to enjoy it, it will be worth it.
    Maybe we can be neighbors when I never get my beach cottage either.

  8. Jen - good luck with your basement renovation! We were going to do one this year too - but the estimates were just too shocking (we need complete rewiring and HVAC reconfiguring).

    I love that photo - its very unbasementy and I think it'll be a great style to use for that area!


  9. Good luck with the basement. When we built our home, we had the builder finish (closing our eyes on the additional price :)... but it was the best decision and we have utilizied our space so much.

  10. Oh! so much fun lies ahead of you...all I can say...is do your homework, talk to lots of people, and go with your gut....plus remember as kristy said...have a little extra $$$ around...b/c these things rarely stay exactly on budget...but if you and hubbin are good at finish work...and leave the hard stuff (wiring, plumbing, etc.) up to the contractors...you can save lots of $$$...so far I love all your ideas...beautiful!

    Good Luck...and more than anything...HAVE FUN!!


  11. Well Miss Jenn,
    I have been this route in our previous coastal nest, which turned out splendidly, if I do say so myself. a bare naked basement? thats rockin! you can do whatever you want, hopefully you can get a few windows for a bit of natural light. The biggest most humungous issue you will face is definately the moisture..this has to be addressed first and foremost, if you have any kind of wet, you HAVE to cross that bridge properly and effectively. The rest is down hill, or should I say down stairs!!! Awesome, hope you two work well together!
    coastal nest

  12. Jen, I am going to enjoy this journey! You know how I love this style! Our condo at the lake is 1250 square ft. You will work wonders with the square footage. Your inspiration photos are fabulous!

    Never give up your dream of a home on the water. My 60th birthday was the same week we signed the contract on the condo. What a great b'day gift it has been!


  13. great ideas..can't wait to see. Yes make room and enjoy every second with them while they are home. This is coming from an empty nester.

  14. We recently renovated our entire home. It took one year. It was hard but, the end result is worth every minute. We also wanted a beach feel and white is a staple in our home. I love the crisp feel it gives. Our basement could not walk out but we pushed the windows to the biggest they could go and still be under code. I am so glad we spent a little more for that. So worth it. We now have a lot of natural light and it does not feel so basement. Where ever you are remember that people in the building business may be hurting for work and are very competitive with price and bid. Use that to your advantage. Good luck with your home and it will be beautiful with these photos for your inspiration.

  15. We finished our basement ourselves, doing everything but the mudding/sanding of drywall and installing the carpet. It was a great experience and we use this space every single day.

    The best piece of advice I can give is to insulate the walls and the ceiling before you drywall. It will help deaden the sound coming from upstairs and it will be nice and toasty in the winter months. Before we finished this space, we were concerned that it would be cold. Not at all. It's actually warmer in the basement than it is upstairs.

  16. LOL No, basements don't talk back :) Lots of beautiful ideas.

  17. Have fun! And research any companies you decide to use on Angie's List! Case Remodling just received an award from them.

  18. a 1200 square foot basement, you lucky ducky! my whole house is barely over 1000 sq feet and even though it has 3 (SMALL) bedrooms, which should theoretically be enough for Honey & I (and the soon to be May-baby), I still find it very hard to contain all my treasures in an organized fashion.

    have fun with your remodeling project ~ I am envious!!

  19. I have that couch! or I should say the slipcovers from Pottery Barn. When DH and I got married he would not part with the Ugly sectional sofa which was a brown corduroy so we compromised and got "natural" slipcovers. I love them. So easy to wash and so comfortable.

  20. Ohhhh! I love your style! Basement is going to look fabulous!

  21. Love your inspiration photos. Can't wait to see how your renovation goes.

    Ive redone two basements in the past and here are my suggestions:
    a) Assuming you have limited or no natural light in your basement, make careful decisions about colors, materials and lighting. Same goes for lower ceilings. For example, don't design with a light airy loft in mind when you have more of a cave to work with.
    b) Use water friendly materials when possible. Of course you don't ever want any water in there but may be a time when you have some water on the floor from a broken water heater, unusual storm, etc. Don't use carpet or anything else that would be ruined if you have some minor water.
    c) Leave plenty of space for storage.

    Hope that helps!

  22. I vote for another baby versus a new basement :) You cant kiss and cuddle a basement.
    Very neat remodeling ideas!
    Do both :)

  23. K, I love your blog! I just stumbled upon it and had to say hi!


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