from scary basement to cozy family room

Our basement has been such a LONG work in progress! When we moved into the house in August 2017, the basement floor was filled with asbestos and there was mold inside the walls. So unpleasant. We quickly paid for mold rehabilitation and for someone to cover the asbestos floors with a concrete-like substance that sealed in the asbestos.

listing photo via RE/MAX Allegiance

My parents moved into the basement, and they laid grey laminate flooring and added a built-in desk along one wall. After they moved out in August 2018, we didn’t do much to the basement, and it quickly became a storage area for our junk. We dumped an old couch down there and mounted a tv on the wall, but the room was pretty unpleasant.

the sorting process

When the COVID lockdowns started, I paid the kids a small fee to help me sort through all my junk in the basement. I needed help making decisions about what to keep and what to donate, and my younger daughter is ruthless with those choices! We ended up donating three car loads of stuff. And John rented a storage space for our holiday decorations and other big items.

A few months later, John and I had a few days without kids, and we spent the time painting the walls, ceiling, trim, and fireplace with my favorite white paint — Cloud White by Benjamin Moore. Painting the ceiling the same color draws the eye upward, in my opinion, and makes this squat room feel taller.

Not my most glamorous moment!

We paid an electrician to install can lights as well as these lights flanking the fireplace and brass nautical flush mount fixtures over the seating area and the bed.

Then it was time to decorate! We started by committing to this rug because we wanted a fun, kid-friendly room, and when it arrived it was even better than the pictures online! The colors are gorgeous — muted but playful, and the material is soft underfoot.

We moved our favorite Article leather chair down to the basement. For a footrest, I found an antique trunk by the side of the road during one of my walks. (I’ve been walking the same route in our neighborhood for two years, and this was the first time I’ve scored a cool antique that someone was throwing away. Very exciting!)

The mailing tags suggest that, many years ago, a kid took this trunk to summer camp!

We splurged on a lovely Haven sectional by West Elm and a large, sturdy coffee table with plenty of room for storing board games and extra blankets.

We added a gallery wall over the couch to showcase some vacation photos of the kids plus two posters from John’s favorite bands. The photo frames are from Target and the posters were custom framed at Michaels. I tried to keep it simple, since we have a lot going on in the room, and I love the way it turned out!

We needed a spot to store game controllers and the like, so we repurposed a cabinet my dad made a few years ago. It took on a new life after we painted it Aegean Teal by Benjamin Moore and added new pulls from Anthropologie.

I styled the shelves with some of our books, an antique clock from our neighbor, a bird’s nest (found discarded in the grass), and some fresh lavender in a vase.

And, in case you missed it in one of the photos above, the kids continue to keep me very humble. When I styled this room, I dug out the felt letter board and wrote, “What if today we were just grateful for everything.” And one of those kids added “poopy” to the end of my heartfelt statement.

We didn’t do much to the built-in desk aside from hanging Leonard the Moose on the wall. But stay tuned! We have exciting plans to liven up this part of the space.

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