Friday, September 23, 2011

Downstairs Improvement Part 1: Under-the-Stairs-Room

I guess I should start at the beginning.  In August, we took a family day trip down to Mobile.  But this one wasn't just for fun.  Husband had a job interview. Yes, we were seriously considering moving to Mobile. And if Husband got the job, we would have moved. Husband and I started talking about what-ifs, what-we-need-to-dos.  And talk quickly turned to the list of things we'd need to do to the house before we could sell it or, worse case scenario, rent it out.  Number two on the list was turn the 702 sq ft of finished downstairs space into actual usable family space. In the six years that Husband has owned the house, it's never really been used for anything except a place for the dogs to stay in extreme weather.  Husband ended up not getting the job, but I was still thinking of this list of to-dos.  

Why wait to do these things until we're trying to get rid of the house?

Why not do them now and actually get to enjoy our hard work?

There are 4 finished rooms downstairs (and the unfinished 300sq ft cellar that we ignored except for organizing and cleaning).  There's the under-the-stairs room, the main room, the smaller side room that sustained substantial drywall damage when we learned that the previous owners installed 3 of the 6 water sources in the master bathroom, that's directly above this room, incorrectly, and the half bath.  

I'm starting with the room I was probably the most excited about first.  And except for husband putting two nails in the wall, I did it all by myself.  
bare wood paneling and plain concrete. cold and uninviting.
under the stairs
the 4th wall
The most important thing to me about this improvement was that it be cheap.  We just don't have the money to spare right now.  But I also didn't want it to look bootleg.  Luckily, so much of what I used in this room, we already had or I was able to find cheap.  The only exception?  The $10 can of chalk board paint.  It was the single most expensive thing I bought.

I used wall paint that we already had in the cellar (the blue that Son's room was when Husband bought the house). We already had the white paint I used to paint the window and door casings.  And since we had already decided the main room's floor needed repainting, I used a little of that paint on the floor.  I bought the chalkboard paint for $10.  Thrift store frames for the chalkboards for $5 each.  White spray paint to paint the the frames and a bookshelf I've had since college was $3.  I picked up two pillows that were $2.50 each to use as cushions.  Covered them with pillowcases we already had but don't use anymore. Then bought two .74 packs of chalk. $8 worth of shoe (the wood that usually accompanies baseboards) And that's it.  I still have to get baseboards, paint and install them.  THAT will end up being the most costly thing in the room, but the room really feels unfinished without them.  And I'd like to hang some curtains too.  Just something sheer and light.

Total spent thus far: right under $40
Total fun has thus far: priceless

the kids checking our their new chalkboards.
Daughter's first drawing
the cat approves
I used the bookshelf to butt up against the stairs and I still haven't decided if I'm going to leave the stairs unfinished or not.  The shelf now has coloring books, crayons and simple wooden puzzles on it. (the white strip on the left is the shoe.  I thought that was all we'd need as far as baseboards go, but they aren't tall enough to cover the gap between the paneling and the floor.  boo)
When the time comes that I trust my kids a little more, this is going to become a magnetic wall and I will bring out my 3 packs of magnetic poetry that I packed away when I realized Husband's fridge wasn't magnetic.  I'm excited for the day, but also realistic that it will probably be years away.
Since I took these pictures, I've hung my old cork board above the chalk boards for the kids to hang their art.  I'm really excited about this room.  And I love how much the kids love it.  Daughter calls it "my little room."  And Son doesn't seem to mind she claimed ownership because he has his own favorite thing downstairs and it's not in that room.

After I started painting my measured off chalkboard to fit into the frames and I saw how little of the $10 can of chalkboard paint I was going to be using, I ALMOST decided to scrap the frame idea and paint the entire wall.  But the thought of wasting $10 on the thrift store frames was enough to deter me.  Maybe later that'll be an upgrade to do - A SUPER HUGE WALL SIZED CHALKBOARD.

1 comment:

Mandy Mc said...

It looks great! I really, really like the framed chalkboards. I think it's MUCH better than a chalkboard wall. :-) Plus now you have leftover chalkboard paint for all kinds of crafty projects.