Friday, April 21, 2017

Gas Fireplace - Basement Remodel

The fireplace.
 I wanted a fireplace downstairs so we measured it out on every wall and  in every corner of the living room. How much space would it take up? How would we do the venting? etc.?
 The gas line wasn't far and it wouldn't have taken much to tap into them.
 But as we were assessing our options we realized that there was this cinder block chimney that went through the center of our house. Maybe the house did have a fireplace upstairs? So I asked a bunch of my neighbors who were born and raised in the neighborhood if our house had ever had a fireplace?
 No, definitely not.
From what we could guess and helpful neighbors, it was put in when the house was built in the 1950's probably for a coal furnace, seeing as there was a clean out in the bottom. Well the house never had a coal furnace and therefore this chimney had never been used. I actually wanted to get rid of it the cinder block chimney because if we got rid of it it would give me more space in my dining room upstairs.
 But then we got thinking, what if we could use this random chimney as a ventilator for a gas fireplace? We had a professional come look at it and it took all of five minutes for him to say absolutely it could be done. All we would need to do was get a new lining.

It turned out to be a prefect place for a fireplace, not just because we could use the chimney, but because we could put the bulk of the fireplace behind the wall and into mechanical room so it wouldn't be taking space out of our living room.

 Now we need to decide what to do with the fireplace wall? We bought some ship-lap months ago but haven't put it up. But is that what we want to do? I thought exposed brick might look really pretty (but expensive.) Any good ideas for us?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Basement Living Room Reveal Before/After

The Basement Living Room is probably our most drastic change. Mostly because it went from a unfinished cold storage room to a beautiful, spacious, light, and airy Living Room!

 I know what you all are thinking, what did we do with ALL THAT CRAP?? Clearly we were utilizing the storage space to it's max capacity so where were we going to put everything after we changed it into a living room?
 First, we purged.
 Big time. 
Because we had the space, 600 Sq Ft. of storage, (which actually was about the size of our first apartment we lived in after we got married,) we filled it up. It's easy to talk yourself into keeping almost anything when you have a place to shove it. Especially if that place has lots and lots of shelves in a cold, dark somewhere you hardly ever go. A lot of it was donated or sold.
And guess what? 
We still had ample storage space for the things we did need after our remodel, in the mechanical room!
And lucky for me, I have a husband who is a champion Tetras player. 
The picture below shows what you saw when you first walked down the stairs. There was a landing with wood paneling staring you in the face. I was SO happy to see that taken out. 

 And wouldn't you know it, when that wall was gone it opened everything up like a breath of fresh air!

Monday, April 17, 2017

FLOOR PLAN - Basement Remodel

When we were looking at homes to buy we had our wish list, like most people. On that list Trevor wanted a garage and I wanted a master bedroom with a decent closet and preferably an en suite bathroom. This house had none of those things but we were sold almost immediately when we walked in. We could just tell it had good bones and even though it wasn't exactly what we wanted we felt like we could make it exactly what we wanted.

For a long time, probably about two and a half years after we moved in, I was convinced we needed to do an addition. That was going to be the only way we would get enough space for our family to grow. We had the existing basement that was mostly finished but I hated the set up and I could not think how to change it. We talked a lot on how we could make an addition work. We drew out countless plans like the ones below. We even had a few people come out and bid us on concrete work and excavation. I started to put together estimations on the cost of an addition.... it was going to be PRICEY! 

It wasn't until we had Darby and I was trying to figure out how to make our family of five fit into two bedrooms (because the basement was so dark, dingy, cold, and spidery I was not going to put my children who the oldest was 3.5 years old down there.) So Trevor and I thought, well maybe he and I could move downstairs and have the girls upstairs and spread out a little more so we could all sleep. At the time we were in such close proximity that when one person would wake up in the night everyone woke up. When I started to imagine myself downstairs living in that space I began to think what I would want to change with it. The carpet and the bathroom for starters and the windows for sure. 

The electrical was so bad in our basement that we knew we were going to need to replace most if not all of it. When we first moved in we kept tripping the breakers down there so I had an electrician come check it out. He told me that we had 17 outlets on one breaker, the max for code is 8.

Once we realized we could gut the entire basement and start from scratch, updating the electrical would be so much easier if we were down to the studs. So the sketch ups for the floor plans began again. How could we set up the basement to maximize the space we already had?

Because we were changing the specs of the home, adding more bedrooms etc. we knew we needed to apply for a building permit with our city. To do that you need to submit a floor plan that includes electrical, windows, closets, smoke detectors, etc. A bunch of people told us we were going to need to hire an architect to draw up our plans. I wanted to see what our floor plan would look like before we spent money on an architect. I knew about google sketch where you can draw up some plans on your own but it was proving to be too difficult for me because I couldn't do it on my phone and I didn't have the time to sit in front of a computer and tinker with it.

That's when I came across a FREE app called Stanley Floor Plans. This app is awesome!! It took me a little bit to figure out how to compile a bunch of rooms into a floor plan but because I had all the measurements of our basement I in essence just plugged in the numbers and voila! 
They even had the option to add furniture, plumbing, outlets and light switches, and even smoke detectors. It took me about 2 days of messing around with it here and there and ended up with the below floor plan. It looked so good and professional that we decided to pay the $3.99 to get the PDF and try submitting it to the city. Success!!! They accepted it within a week and we had our permit. We were even able to use this floor plan when getting bids from electricians, plumbers, framers, and HVAC (Trevor just drew in on a copy where we needed additional duct work.) Looks awesome, right??
I am constantly amazed at how easy and cost effective technology has made some aspects of life.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Stairwell before/ after

I decided the best way to show our whole basement remodel is to go room by room. Talk about what we did, how we did it, and what we learned from it. Starting with duh dunna duh....The STAIRS! super duper exciting.

We did a surprising amount of work in the stairs. Mostly because we needed to update all the electrical in the basement and the electrical panel was in the stairwell. Well 60 years ago that was totally appropriate fast forward to 2017 and that is not a code-able option any more. So guess what we were required to do? Move the entire electrical panel! Sounds complicated? Yeah we thought so too, thus we hired the professionals. We don't regret that in any way. 

We did however, do some of the manual labor to save money with the electrician, we cut a massive hole in the wall that went almost from stair to ceiling (not just the little box you see in the picture) so he could drop the panel (and all the wires) into our mechanical room below. A big hole in the wall meant a lot of patchwork and repairing. I didn't really consider the stairs to be a viable "room" worthy of progressive shots so unfortunately I didn't take many pictures to show you the process of all the work. 
We had a tiny one bulb light in the stairs, it gave off very little light so I knew that needed to change. I searched for months on websites like wayfair and amazon, we checked Home Depot and Lowe's. Most everything that was under $100 was only one light bulb or not our style. I wasn't in a hurry to change it out so I just kept my eyes open. Last week Trevor and I were walking through Costco, we had seen this light fixture before and liked it but weren't sold on it...until we saw that is was discounted to $79.97. 
$80 bucks for a 6 bulb industrial style (which style Trevor loves and was really pushing for but because it's so popular right now everything that is industrial-esque seems to be overpriced.) AND it came with the cool looking bulbs! Isn't it funny how you like things more when you get it for a good price? 
I actually love how it turned out. And I love that there is so much more light in the stairwell.
The mirror was one that I saved from my mom's DI (goodwill) pile about 5 years ago. I have been holding on to it ever since, waiting for the perfect place to put it and I LOVE it in the stairs.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Renovation Realities DIY Network

When Trevor and I were first planning, contemplating, and starting our basement remodel we wanted to figure out ways we could pay for it. I looked on the DIY network and there was a show called Renovation Realities, we made this video to apply for the show.

There wasn't a host or anyone to help with the project but they did compensate like $2000 for coming into your home and filming you. We figured any extra money would be worth it.

We actually got through the first few rounds of casting. But then we didn't hear from them for a while and we wanted to get the project going. So I emailed them and the lady we were working with told me they were in negotiations with the network because they weren't sure if they were going to get confirmed to do another season.

We decided to let our dreams of being reality TV stars go and just continue with our basement on our own. But I am really glad we tried for it because now we have this video and it gives us a great "BEFORE" of our massive basement remodel.

If you are interested in our casting video / our basement before:

ps if you look up the show "Renovation Realities" every intro is the same with the people working on the house is outside back to back with their arms folded and a pissed off look on their face. We decided to beat them to the punch and get all the footage they needed of us looking ridiculous. Please enjoy.