Friday, August 3, 2012

Basement Wish List

I love words, but I'm a very visual person. And while I like to think I'm very articulate, I don't seem very good at communicating when it comes to room/remodeling ideas with Brian.

Often I think we have agreed on a plan and later I'll learn that he isn't clear on what I wanted or is on a totally different plan.

(Abandoned basement idea #1: a slide from the kids' room to the basement)

Case in point: our basement.

Our house came with an unfinished basement. Brian has done a ton of work since we moved in: putting in all our landscaping, building containers for the garden, the fence, our deck extension, our brick patio and more. I am so grateful (and spoiled) to have a partner who can fix and build just about anything...and who loves working outside.

The basement has been a challenge for several reasons. Time (see all the above projects that have kept Brian busy), money, and the noise factor (when Bri does have free time, it's often too late with kids sleeping to make noise right below them). Over the eight years we've lived here, Brian has spent a lot of time and a lot of money on the basement. He built a storage room that we use for the boys' hand-me-down clothes and seasonal items. He has (in my novice opinion) an awesome work shop that is (I might add) larger than my kitchen. Insulation, electricity, plumping, lighting, framing= a lot of weekends and a lot of sketches and Brian having me walk around down there as we discuss ideas and plans.

I have no idea what goes into most of the work above. My mind immediately goes to the fun potential. And our walks/talks down there usually follow a pattern of my getting super excited about some random idea, Brian calmly explaining why such idea is unreasonable or impossible, and then some arguing before my washing my hands of the whole basement because I decide it is not worth the fight.

To me, it seemed like this great opportunity---a blank slate. Our house was being built when we bought it, so we were able to add some detail touches of our own, and those are definitely the things I love most about our home. But the framing was done so the layout wasn't something we could change. And so much of buying of our house was about how to shave more $ off the cost---which is how we came to doing all the landscaping ourselves, as well as the painting, the door frames, etc.

My fear is that our basement will be this lost opportunity, without character---very boxy and conventional, which is how I would describe our first house in Oregon. There was so much open space, but now every room feels very small to me.

So here is my wishlist of random ideas that I think would make the space more homey and enjoyable. I'm hoping for two things with this post---to have the visuals to back up my verbal difficulties in describing what I mean to Brian and to have a record of what I wanted in case not one of these things end up in our very conventional, boring basement;-p

Source: via Deirdre on Pinterest

1. A built-in whole wall bookcase.

The main thing I am looking forward to when our basement is finished, besides having a place to banish lots of toys, is more bookshelves I *thought* we had decided on a long built-in bookcase a long time ago. I don't like the pattern or color above, but I do like the overall design.

I did ask that the hallway entrance downstairs have an arch opening, echoing the entrances upstairs. I'd like for the bookcase to reflect that as well, if possible.

The bookcase wall includes a door way without an arch, leading into Brian's workshop and the storage area. The ceilings downstairs are low, but I'd like to carry the built-in effect over the door way if possible.

#2 Interesting door to laundry room
I'm dreading losing my laundry room on the main floor of the house. I love being able to throw in a quick load and how our tiny, closet sized laundry room requires that clothes, dirty or clean, aren't actually stored in the room at all.
  I don't think the wording is necessary, but I do like the idea of a window on the door. Brian's counterpoint: it will be dark and unseen from the stairs, and potentially broken by boys running down the stairs???

I thought this room was going to be larger than it turned out---so I had hoped for it to be a space where the kids could do messy art projects and that I'd be able to move all the craft stuff out of the upstairs office (especially as I foresee that space becoming a bedroom someday). Now I think there is barely room for some storage space and a washer and dryer. We shall see.

The stairway to the basement has been a whole different issue (which I of course lost/was wrong about). It is narrow and dark. Brian did open up the wall into the living area, which brightened it a bit and made that room a bit bigger. But the stairs (which I wanted to break up by having turn into the living area) end right at the laundry room door. So looking down the stairs, you'll just see a door (with another door, the bathroom, to the  right and the living area to the left).

Source: via Deirdre on Pinterest

Barn doors might not work with 8' foot ceilings, but I do like the idea of gaining some space in the room by having a sliding or pocket door. Brian is concerned about the noise factor, as he imagines the living area becoming where we watch movies.

#3 the Illusion of Windows
I normally don't like fake anything, even when it's fancied up and called faux. Can't stand fake flowers. But a room without windows is a big negative, and just the slightest illusion of having something like a window would make a big difference, in my opinion. Even if the window were just into another room.


I also like the idea of these built in storage shelves that resemble windows. 

Brian has let the boys play in what they refer to as their Harry Potter "room under the stairs". Maybe no door is preferable, but isn't this one super cute?

I'm going to stop here, and not deal with the window wells or the couch debate or where in the world the air-hockey table will go, or the fact that having a guest room in the basement doesn't seem practical as I can't imagine ever directing our parents to down a flight of stairs to sleep. Maybe it will all be different once it is done.

The day we moved into our first house, I looked around at the fake brick linoleum, dark paneling and popcorn ceilings that I had worked so hard to convince Brian were worth our money because of its location and started to cry. And within a year, it had a completely different feel to it---clean and bright. So I'm going to try to just trust that what right now feels like a dark, unwelcoming space will be completely different when it is done. Brian is more conventional than I am, but he also has a much stronger sense of space and is more realistic...I do hope it becomes a space that we all enjoy together.

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