diy: low-cost update to basement office

I mentioned a few months ago that we’ve been working on our basement (like all parts of our house, progress happens very slowly!). But now I think we’re finally done. We recently put the finishing touches on the desk area in the basement, and it feels whimsical and cozy.

As a reminder, this is what the basement looked like when we bought the house. Ugh.

After four years, lots and lots of bleach, new flooring, and new paint, the basement now looks like this.

But the desk area was still a little sad. My parents added these cabinets when they moved in — they bought builder-grade upper cabinets from Home Depot, bolted them to the floor, and added a butcher block top that they stained and sealed themselves. The desk gave us a ton of storage, but I wanted to make it more FUN!

This area needs some color, right? And some personal touches.

Because we were on a tight budget for this space, I decided to keep the cabinets and paint them a vibrant color. After testing out many different paint samples, I landed on Picture Gallery Red by Farrow and Ball. The color reminds me of a lipstick you might wear to a party!

I also bought new, curvy drawer pulls from Anthropologie (this exact type is out of stock, unfortunately). And we livened up the wall with some poster prints featuring National Parks. (We tore the prints out of a book like this one and popped them into frames from Target.)

The black boxes on the left side of the desk contain thousands of LEGO pieces, all sorted by size. And we glued some LEGO baseplates to the butcher block so the kids can build anything they’d like and lock their creations to the countertop. We’ve had too many tears over LEGO creations that fell apart when someone bumped the table!

Next to the LEGO area is my favorite part of our basement — the framed sweater from John’s grandfather. John was lucky enough to inherit his grandfather’s 1945 high school letterman sweater from Highland Park High School in Dallas, and we had the sweater framed in a shadowbox at Michaels. John was really close to his granddad. I never met him, but family legend has it that he lit up every room he entered. He must have been a very charismatic guy, and his family loved him mightily.

I love having that memento in a family space we use every day. To me, items like this make our home feel safe and warm, and they remind us of the people we love.

I’m so happy with this finished space. We made it feel cozy and inviting without spending much money, which is always a win!

What projects are you working on? Let me know in the comments!

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