Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Our Unfinished Basement

In the spirit of all this organizing, my sewing room, in the basement, is definitely next on the list. It’s going to be a long, long process though. :)

But before I start showing you my sewing room, I want to show you the basement and what we’ve already done to it. The clean, full basement was definitely a huge selling point, and for us, it’s also definitely a huge testament to what paint can do.

So when we bought the house, the basement was all a sort of pinkish color. Floors, walls, ceiling. Part of the ceiling had really terrible drywall work but most was unfinished.

Here’s our basement when we first moved in.

basement before

As basements easily become, it was a catch-all. Eventually we knew we wanted a few defined areas: a tool room, my sewing/craft room, a little living space, and a home office-type space for Brandon.

We opened up a few walls that were down there and also decided to take down the ceiling drywall and paint all the ceilings (the open joists) white, which we had done in a previous house. It’s a lot of work but it keeps the ceilings seeming higher and leaves everything open for access to pipes and plumbing.

basement before, drywall ceiling down

We bought a Wagner Paint Crew Plus Spray Painter and also used Grandpa’s trusty Wagner Wide Shot Power Sprayer.

beginning to paint the basement ceiling with Wagner paint sprayer

(Update: First we primed with Zinsser FastPrime2 – a water-based primer/sealer to make sure we had good coverage over the old joists – with no bleed-through of stains or tannin.  Then we painted with Conco’s High Hide White in Satin…it was an inexpensive paint we got at Menards that had great coverage and still looks good a few years later!)

Did I say it was messy? We were painted disasters for many many weekends.

the aftermath of spraying the basement ceiling

Brandon all painted up

But the amazingly bright ceilings were worth it!

Here’s a shot of the ceilings partially done. What a difference.

basement ceiling painting in progress

Here’s a shot of the future living space and sewing room with the ceilings painted (but you can still see the pinkish walls).

basement in progress

We painted all the cinder block a very light gray and we painted the floors with Valspar Oil Gloss Floor Paint in Lake Country.

basement painted!

Isn’t it so much more bright and open? Paint is so amazing.

Here’s our tool room before we got started.

future tool room - before

And then after we got our hands on it.

basement tool room painted

And, to be fair, since these “after” pictures show the basement totally empty (we were painting the floors after all!), here’s a picture of Brandon’s sort of home office/computer workshop.

Brandon's side of the basement

It’s very “lived” in, we’ll call it. We’re definitely not finished working on the basement. We have lots of plans for peg board and other organizing, but in the meantime we’re so happy with the lightness and brightness.  Speaking of brightness, I forgot to mention that Brandon added a ton of fluorescent fixtures up in between the joists, so they’re not really visible but they give off so much light! We put natural colored bulbs in them so that it’s not too industrial office feeling down there.

I’m not really ready to show you the disaster that is my sewing room yet, but it’s a heap of fabric and crafts just waiting to be organized, and I’m getting started! I will keep you posted along the way.

What about you? I know you have amazing paint stories…or spaces that desperately need to be organized? Tell me tell me!


  1. I love what you did to your basement. It looks wonderful. We have the same type of basement and I'd like to copy your paint idea, however, I am hesitant to paint the pipes and wires. Did you do that?

    1. We did paint the pipes and wires and it looks great! They totally blend in. We primed everything first with Zinsser's FastPrime, so that will stick to the various pipe materials and block most stains. (You can prime with an even heftier (oil-based, maybe) primer if you're worried about rust or stains - or just read the can of whatever you get.) The only thing we didn't paint was the foam-insulated air conditioner condensation pipe. But everything else got a couple of coats and it looks great!

    2. What about the insulation in the floor joist? Im paintin gmy ceiling also and wonder if i should paint the pink insulation thats in the floor joist pockets above the wall. Thanks your paint job looks great

    3. We took down any insulation we had - it was all there for soundproofing, I guess? So we don't have any insulation like you're talking about. I don't know about painting it, though (the actual insulation, that is, vs a paper vapor barrier). Could you maybe put some thin lauan plywood type stuff up to enclose the insulation? Whatever you end up doing, let me know! I'm sure this isn't the last time we'll be painting joists!

  2. I have been looking for ideas for unfinished basements. Great idea. I want to do the same, so that I can have a workout space, and office space.

    1. At the time, it's sort of a lot of work with the sprayer and everything, but the end result is SO WORTH IT! We use our basement all the time, and while it's a basement, it is a super pleasant place to be...not scary and dark at all! It's still a place that you feel like you can decorate and be a part of your home.

  3. What type of paint did you use for the ceiling?

    1. We used Zinsser FastPrime2 (a water based stain hiding primer and sealer that has a fast dry time) to prime - so that it would cover up any yucky-ness from it just being an unfinished basement for so many years, then we used a commercial/contractor-grade inexpensive paint we got at Menards called Conco ( in High Hide White - for the very reason the name implies! A few years later everything is still looking great!

  4. Hi, Victoria! Did you use a sprayer on the floor as well? It looks fabulous! Also, what did you seal it with?

  5. hi!
    I was wondering how the floor paint has held up?


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