Lake House Lower Level Reveal!
Last winter, I discovered that a raccoon had taken up residence in the lower level of my bi-level home. The raccoon crawled around, chewed up all the insulation in the walls and on the hot water pipes, and then bit through our refrigerator water line. For hours while I was at work water flooded down into the walls and onto the laminate floor. After calling in a professional water mitigation team and working with my insurance company, we were lucky to walk away with some money for repairs.
Apparently, most insurance companies do not cover raccoon damages, but we just beat a new regulation going into effect in 2017 (it was January 2016 when this all happened) and we were able to receive some money for the “water damaged” portion of the house. Do you see the cage on the floor in the picture? Every morning I had to check and see if we caught the raccoon. We never did, phew! I guess all the noise and people in the area scared the critter away for good.
The Downstairs TV Room
Only because we had some insurance money coming our way did I even begin to think of ways to spruce up the lower level. We just wouldn’t have been able to afford any major changes otherwise. I realize there’s probably some very adult way of labeling the room, but “Downstairs TV Room” is what we call it, so there you go.
I started searching for inspiration on Pinterest.
My favorite ideas included:
- A sleek electric fireplace (and heater) flanked by pretty display shelves.
- A bookcase or wood casing to cover up the ugly basement metal pole.
- A twin-bed-size reading nook under the stairs that doubles as a guest bed.
Tile or Wood? That is the Question…
Because I LOVE to plan things out, I drew up some ideas. White walls with grey brick was my vision for the fireplace.
Eventually I decided to use distressed grey wood panels from Home Depot instead of faux brick. The panels were much less expensive than the brick and tile options I had found, and installation was a breeze. Tiny finishing nails securely adhered each panels into the drywall.
Our contractors began by building a simple frame for the fireplace and shelves. They also tore up these giant steps to the garage and built rectangular steps with a pony-wall railing. The electrician installed new outlet and a plug for the fireplace cord.
Instead of building custom, expensive shelves on either side of the fireplace, I found a inexpensive shelving unit that worked! We put up white beadboard paneling behind the bookcases to add texture. Two side-by-side bookcases on the left and one on the right fit perfectly. We also flipped them upside down because the bottom of the shelving unit had a thick 3″ boarder and trimmed the bookcases and fireplace out using 1×4 wood pieces. Painting everything white really lightened up the space.
The paneling on the fireplace went up really easily. The grey boards are only 11/32″ thick, so the 1×4 boarder really provided a nice frame while covering up each board’s unfinished edges.
On the adjacent wall, I wanted to hang a TV flanked by sconces. The cable for the TV is elevated and there is a plug on the wall so all cords are invisible.
I liked the paneling so much that I added it to the TV wall. Doesn’t it provide really lovely texture?
You may notice that the plain white door to the utility room in the corner looks pretty boring. I’m thinking about adding some paneling and painting it a bright teal color. It’s a metal door, so I’m concerned with how to attach the paneling. Glue? I don’t think nails would work. I’ll have to experiment with some different options. Stay tuned!
The Reading Nook
My daughter was a year old when all this went down. She was walking at nine months and at this point she was already running, jumping, throwing things, and loving life. I knew that she was going to need a big area to play in, and I would be in desperate need of a storage space for all the toys she’d been accumulating. My plan was I had two three-by-three foot square storage units that I would place side-by-side to hold most of the smaller toys, and in the same space I’d convert a under-the-stairs closet into a reading nook. I drew up some plans, and the contractor ran wild with them.
After all the big-time wall changes were covered in drywall, my husband and I began laying down the new laminate flooring. Boy, did it go down easily. We put tile flooring upstairs and that was extremely labor intensive. Laminate clicks in and the installation goes super duper quickly.
We bought two underlayment floor coverings because we were covering a concrete slab. First, we put down a plastic underlayment. It came with a pull-off sticky strip to connect the layers together. This was necessary because we needed to keep any moisture that could accumulate on the slab off the backside of the laminate. Laminate + water is a big no-no.
After that, we decided to put down a thicker underlayment with an attached vapor barrier. It added some nice padding underneath the laminate. It probably wasn’t necessary because the laminate had its own attached padding, but we decided the extra layer would keep our daughter’s feet warmer while playing and the Home Depot guy said an extra layer of padding certainly wouldn’t hurt. My only concern is that it could add too much movement and the floor might separate at the joints. I guess only time will tell.
The neatest thing about the Pergo laminate was the Cap A Tread stair covers. They could easily be cut down to size and are installed with glue. We also bought the laminate white risers because the stairs are a high traffic area, and I didn’t want to have to paint a wooden riser white over and over again.
The hallway connects the main stairway to the two rooms I just featured. It’s long and too narrow for much furniture.
I wanted to decorate the hallway simply with something light but not bulky. I decided to try a grey and white brick-look wallpaper. It went up so easily and is supposed to be an “easy removal.” When I told my good friend that I was putting in wall paper, she scrunched her nose up and said, “Really?” She thought wallpaper was too old fashioned. What do you think?
When people come over they’re surprised that it’s wallpaper. From far away it does look pretty real. I’m not sure this photo is doing it justice.
Throughout this whole process I purchased a few decorating items that I couldn’t walk away from. We live on a lake, so I’ve been trying to incorporate teal blue into a fair amount of my decor. I guess the cow picture was really speaking to me; I had to have it! I also picked up a few other inexpensive items at Home Goods.
In the background of this picture you can see the old wall color is a dark green and you can barely see the orange laminate that used to be down on the left side of the photo. I’m happy to see them both out of here. Just a little bit of paint (a ton on primer) and a new, lighter brown-toned flooring and everything is revamped and looking swell!
Well, that’s where things are at in the lower-level. You may have noticed that some areas feel really plain (the hallway) and that others need finishing (both flat doors near the TV room are only primed– I may paint them a bold color and add trim for detail). Check back in a few weeks for an update on the doors and for more lower-level decor ideas!
That’s all for now!