How to survive a basement renovation

How to survive a basement renovation

You know all those awesome bloggers out there that can take a 150 year old home and gut it with their bare hands and rebuild it from scratch?

We are not those bloggers.

That is, home decor stuff, desks, furniture, art & crafts projects – no problem. If I can upcycle it, I will find a way. Drywall and framing…eh…

We live in a tiny home by suburban standards at 1300 sq feet in a sea of 3000-4000 sq foot homes. The problem isn’t the size – we’re very happy with our house. The problem is that the kids are getting bigger and louder and my husband works shift work. You try getting a hyper, stir crazy 5 year old and her 2 year old mini me quiet during the winter when the living room is directly under the bedroom where my husband needs to sleep during the day. Short of giving them Benadryl all week, a more human solution would be to move them about 6 feet under the living room. Not that kind of 6 feet  under (I love my kids…most days…) but the unfinished basement.

So after almost 3 years of my husband wearing ear plugs to bed (because saving money to do these projects takes time when you’re a one income family) we’re almost done the basement reno.

You know that old adage Time is Money? When it came to the framing, the drywall and the electricity this was one of those cases. We just did not have the time or the skills to DIY that part. In which case we hired an amazing contractor, Rick from Hayden Renovations (who has no idea I have a blog and is probably going to wonder who the hell this is when the search engines pick this up – Hi Rick!) and his team to do that part. In case you’ve stumbled on this page looking for a review of Hayden Renovations we highly recommend Rick. Great job, great work ethics and we would have no doubt recommending him to anyone. We are so happy with the finished product.

And that ladies and gentlemen, is how we stayed sane and survived this basement renovation. We hired someone who knew they were doing vs trying to miter saw our way to a crookedly framed wall hell.

Simple right? Oh yeah and then stayed the hell out of their way. I can’t say the same for my kids who though playing peekaboo with the contractors in the new window was awesome. Sigh. I apologize. Again.

Now smart bloggers would have taken this post and had broken it up into 10 different “In Progress” posts to make for good blog content that they can stretch out. But really, I am not a renovation blog. Like I said we’ll do decor projects, make furniture etc., but the probability of me giving you advice on how to do framing and drywall is just not going to happen. So I think a good Before and After is well worth the one post instead.

If you want a great house renovation blog, go visit my friend Stacey at A Goode House and watch the magic her and her husband do in transforming their Mid Century Modern home in Texas.

So here in photos, is our basement as we make progress to getting it all done.

Side note – If you want to see our basement before we started renovating it, go visit The Dungeon Part 1 and The Dungeon Part 2 for the whole story of how we demolished the previous disaster of a basement that was in our house when we bought it.


basement before

basement before (2)

basement before (3)

basement before (4)

New window goes in…

basement before

basement before (2)

basement before (3)

new window

basement before (4)Drywall goes up.

basement before

basement before (2)

basement before (4)

basement before (6)The never ending painting.

basement before

basement before (3)


I have to thank my Brother In Law for coming over to help James put this in. This is the Kaindl Natural Maple Laminate. This is not your Grandma’s laminate. It is so similar to Engineered Hardwood that everyone who sees it in real life is floored – ok that was bad – is shocked when we tell them it’s laminate.

Kaindl Natural Maple Floor (2)

Kaindl Natural Maple Floor (3)

Why do builders always put the electrical breaker box in the most inconvenient places?

Kaindl Natural Maple Floor (4)

That back wall in the next photo where the miter saw is on the floor, is the location of the future wet bar. So I can have a place to store all my Wiser’s and Innis and Gunn.

My husband then did all the trim and moulding work with his new toy.

basement progress

basement progress (2)

basement progress (3)

basement progress (4)

And here’s where at today. The kids have already taken it over. What a surprise.

Well that’s the best part and the total intention of finishing the basement.

basement after

My $49 MCM credenza that I scored at Value Village has finally found a home.

We also made a cover for the breaker box. That’s a post that I will definitely write about. And how we had to get a new couch because we destroyed the old one in this entire process.

basement after (2)

We still have tons and I mean tons to do.

The wet bar, decor, get some rugs, window treatments, lighting, shelving, pillows, tables. Can you hear the sound of me going to thrift stores for all of this? It’s like Christmas in July!I currently like it better than my living room if only because there is no stucco on the ceiling.

But the most important thing is that right now I am just happy that my husband gets to get a good nights sleep for a change.