Tag Archives: remodeling the basement

Renovating the Basement – Tile Debacle

9 Mar

Remember a week or so ago when I hinted at some issues we’d had with the tile guy and the unexpected changes we had to make in the plan for the bathroom?

Well, this whole thing started with my ReStore find: the beautiful 13 x 20 inch DalTile I bought for a great price.

Remember these beauties?

Soon after we bought the tile, we met with our contractor and the tile guy to talk about the pattern we wanted on the floor (staggered tiles) as well as continuing the lines of tile to the shower, on the floor of the shower and up the wall. I also wanted to use dark grout so it would appear as if the tiles weren’t individual, but one big piece of tile. The tile I bought had a special edge that required a very small grout line, so I was excited to see the final product once it was installed. That night everyone agreed the tile was going to look great and really set the tone for the bathroom, so the hubs and I anxiously awaited ‘Tile Day.’

The day the tiling was happening, thank goodness the hubs went home for lunch and peeked downstairs to see the progress. This is what he saw:

Wait a minute.

Where did that small square tile come from?

And why is it installed in the floor of our shower?

Didn’t we just talk about using the same big tile for the floor, the lip of the shower, the floor and all the way up to the ceiling? Did I miss something?

Let’s just say I was freaking out! Of course the tile guy was already gone for the day (at noon???!) so the hubs made a call to the contractor and sent him this picture. He was also confused as to where this tile came from and why it was laid in the shower. When our contractor finally reached the tile subcontractor he said he’d run into a problem getting the correct angle for drainage with the big tiles we had, so he had to go to smaller tiles. And instead of calling us, he just pulled these tiles out of his truck (no kidding) and laid them. He then apologized for laying the tiles without asking, he said he “forgot to ask.” Really? Really!

When we got home that night from work, we tried to pull the tiles up before they were fully set. Shit.

Not only did we have the problem of the wrong tile laid in our shower, we’d also been made aware that it wasn’t possible to use the big tiles for the floor. It wasn’t long before we went to a few different stores to look for small mosaic tile to use on the floor that would actually match the rest of the bathroom tile.

I was less than thrilled about breaking up the dark tile, but what choice did I have? I wish I had been made aware of this situation at the beginning so we had more time to choose tile, but we ended up finding a really pretty mosaic that incorporated the dark brown as well as a cream in a really fun, modern pattern. My biggest concern was ensuring that the tile on the floor didn’t look like an afterthought, since it obviously was, which led to adding a few rows of the mosaic about 5 feet up the shower wall as an accent to break up the big tiles and make it seem like this had been our plan all along. At the end of the day, it’s growing on me, but I still don’t love love love it.

What do you think?

I think once the entire bathroom is put together, I’ll like it, but right now, all I can stare at is that floor! (and the white grout – where did that come from? Obviously our subs have a tough time with details…)

Crisis averted. Sort of.

Renovating the basement – Color Palette

28 Feb

Today our basement walls are getting some texture and then it’s just the finishing touches of installation – trim, doors, install light switches, bathroom fixtures, carpet and then we’re in! You know what that means, right? It’s time to shop!

Last time I told you that I had fallen in love with the navy couch I saw on an ep of Sarah’s House, but sadly, I couldn’t get the hubs on board, which led to us spending more than 2 hours at the local furniture store on Saturday looking at couch after couch after couch.

We both were hoping to find a leather set we liked, but finding (real leather) with clean lines is like trying to find needle in a haystack. There is nothing I more than those sofas that are really bulky, puffy and have those flappy arms.  Blech! It wasn’t long before we moved on to fabric upholstered sofas. We sat on a lot of couches and chairs, but Georgia made sure to climb on all of them.  And try and jump up and down.

At this point, we were now having a problem finding a couch that was a good, middle-of-the-road price with quality construction. As we were entering hour 2 of shopping, we ended up back at the brand we bought for our upstairs living room: Jonathan Louis. The thing I love about this brand is more than the good price point – you can choose about ANY kind and color of fabric you want. There has to be 50-60 fabric options, plus, depending on the couch style you get, you get to choose an accent fabric from another 60 choices for throw pillows! Fabulous. Since every couch is custom, it does take a little longer for it to be made and shipped, but I think it’s totally worth it. We chose a sectional with a chaise in a dark gray fabric with a white and gray circle accent pillow fabric. I’ve been pinning (Basement board) like crazy to put together a palette that is fun and casual for the basement and this is what I’ve had running around in my head. At the top right you can see the actual couch fabric and the accent pillow fabric next to it. Then I found the accessories and furniture between Crate & Barrel and Home Decorators. I can’t wait to see it come together in real life.


[ Sources: Home Decorators, Crate & Barrel  (Not actual couch, but is similar is color and shape). ]

You like? It will need some more colorful accents and a light gray paint color to keep the room light, but I’m getting there!

How do you guys visualize your rooms?

Renovating the basement – Drywall

24 Feb

This week was dedicated to putting up drywall, taping and mudding.

I’m not very good at visualizing things, so I was excited to see the spaces change as the drywall went up and really be able to grasp the layout and the size of the rooms. Let me tell you that I was not disappointed!

The first thing that struck me as I walked down the stairs was the size of the hallway/entrance to the basement. I had envisioned it a lot like our upstairs since the layout is really similar, but its so much wider and more open than that.

Walking down the stairs

Looking from the living area

 I’ve also been doing some brainstorming about how I want the living area and Georgia’s play area to work together. I got a lot of inspiration yesterday on my “mental health” day while watching Sarah’s House (about Sarah) on HGTV. Have you guys seen this? Her style is fresh, bright and and a little bit playful. She uses more color than I would normally consider but with textures and mix of prints, it just all comes together so beautifully.

Where is this going, you might be asking? Yesterday as I waited for some laundry to dry, I caught up on the last few episodes of her latest renovation when the color palette in the basement living area struck me. Instead of a brown or tan sofa like more people would choose, she did a sofa in navy blue textured fabric with menswear inspired pillows in grays and shades of blue.

Isn’t it beautiful? (All except for the ottoman, which seems like a little much for me.)

I love the palette and I immediately started searching for navy sofas with killer texture. I also like the picture ledge that runs around the room. Her thought on it was that it added some architectural detail to the room since it’s in the basement and has no windows – it just adds a little something. I love that idea! Do you think I can talk the hubs into installing this all the way around the living room?

I love the idea of a dark navy sofa to add variety to our house. I think it’s an unexpected color without being like, “whoa!” unexpected. We’ll see if I can find one for a reasonable price.

This is the living area if you’re standing at the bottom of the stairs looking to the right into the living area. (Living area/Tv room portion) That rectangular hole halfway up the wall is for mounting the TV, if that helps give you perspective.

This is the living area if you’re standing at the bottom of the stairs looking to the left in the living area (G’s playroom space + closet)

The bedroom isn’t too exciting, so I’m not posting pics, but we did manage to finagle a regular sized closet it there, which will come in VERY useful for storing the things that are currently in the guest bedroom closet upstairs. Those things will have to move eventually – especially if we have another kid in the future.

The bathroom is making progress, too! The tile has been laid on the floor and the floor of the shower, and once we can take the brown paper off I’ll show you pictures and tell you about the tile debacle we went through last week. Aaah, subcontractors. #sarcasm

Now that the drywall is finished it has to dry over the weekend and the guys will be back on Monday to texture. Then it’s trim and doors, paint and then carpet. EEE! We’re so close!

Renovating the basement: The Mess

23 Feb

We are halfway finished with the basement and until this point, I have been dealing quite well with the mess.

Until today.

I woke up this morning feeling anxious and overwhelmed by the chaos that we see: the protective paper taped to the wood floors, furniture moved around, things from the basement filling up the garage and the rest of the house, and the things that I don’t see every day: the dust in the basement from the drywall, piles of broken tile, buckets of grout, mud and everything else that comes with construction.

So, to be honest, today I took a mental health day from work. I needed the day to organize what I could, clean what I could and go to bed tonight feeling better about everything. I know some people who could live in a whole house renovation and be just fine, not me. At one time in my life I wanted to buy a fixer-upper and gut it and make it mine, after this little, miniscule basement project, I’m at my max.

I will be very happy when it’s done – I can’t wait for it to be finished – not only to get rid of the mess but to have more space for my little peach to play with all of her toys.

It will be worth it.


Renovating the basement: Electrical and plumbing

17 Feb

We have some good basement progress going here!

The electrical was wrapped up last week, on Monday the plumber was here to run the pipes and prep everything that goes with the bathroom, and we also met with the tile guy to talk about the process there and to dry fit the tiles we bought.

This picture is taken from the doorway of the bathroom. Straight ahead will be the vanity. We’re still on the hunt for an open bottom vanity that we like, and to the left of the vanity will be the toilet.

This picture is taken from inside the bathroom door looking toward the left wall of the bathroom. You can see where the shower controls and shower head will go on the left side of the picture.

You can also see how the treadmill has been spending her days: covered in tarp, only to be uncovered at night. Poor girl. I am looking forward to the day when the basement is finished and it isn’t such a mess down there and I can truly enjoy my runs again.

And here is a good look at the tile and the pattern we’ve decided on. I love the staggered look! What are those yellow lines, you ask? All of the tiles have this yellow chalk mark on them. No idea why, but they do. Our tile guy swears they’ll come off. I hope he’s right!

So yah, good progress!
We also had our first round of inspections and we passed, which is a great sign because the inspectors here are super strict and we had issues with them when we were building our house, so passing the first time is fantastic!

Tiling of the bathroom will continue this week and then Monday: drywall. We are about a week behind schedule due to scheduling the inspections, but that is just fine by me. Again, I can’t wait to see how the basement transforms with walls. It’s my favorite part of the building process, for sure! Minus the mess……

Renovating the basement – Framing

7 Feb

After one full week of construction on the basement, I am happy to report that the clean streak has continued!

To ensure that dust and junk doesn’t travel up the stairway, our contractor has put this up:

A plastic zippy-door! Swoon!

So here one view of the basement now that it’s framed.

The angled doors are almost exactly the same as the layout of our 2nd floor. I was standing in the hallway as I took this picture and I love that it is bigger than I imagined it. It really makes the basement feel open and big – when it’s not.

This shows you the bathroom from further down the hall, in the living room. I marked off the most exciting part of the bathroom – 2 closets! One of the closets will face into the bathroom for towels, extra toilet paper, cleaning supplies, etc., and the other one will open into Georgia’s playroom. Hiding toys? YES, please!

This picture just shows the living room, but I really wanted to show you the clean construction in our basement! Extra boards leaned neatly, dust swept into a neat pile. And did I mention that we’re already under the original quote? Are you dying for the contractor’s name? Not yet, my friends. Not yet! On tap this week is electrical and next week starts with plumbing and then drywall. Then it’ll get real!

I snapped a pic of the tile this week, too. This picture actually does justice to the color and the texture of the tile.

After the tile guy saw these tiles, he had some suggestions on how to spice up the bathroom. We took his advice and will be expanding the shower. I’ll tell you about that later, too.

Needless to say, we have a lot of exciting things happening in the house these days. I’ve been pinning like mad and spending every free moment Google-ing and searching for the best deals.

When I’m not doing that, I’m hanging with this silly girl.

100% Sass. And I love it!

Have a great week!

Renovating the basement – Tile on the cheap

3 Feb

Now that the basement is started and framing is underway, it’s time to buy!

This terrifies my husband, but makes me giddy. I seem to have a knack obsession with online browsing and going to all kinds of stores around town to just keep tabs on what they have in stock, but when it comes time to buy….! Eeee!

For a long time now I had wanted to stop by Habitat for Humanity’s Restore in East Des Moines, so when I was over there for work a couple of weeks ago, I talked my co-workers into going in. If you’re not familiar with the Restore, it’s recently moved to a new and bigger location on East Euclid and has tons of things (mostly) donated by contractors, manufacturers, retailers, homeowners, businesses and others with all proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity. The prices are fantastic and you can definitely find some amazing deals there! Well, I found this beautiful chocolate brown 13′ x 20′ glazed tile. And lots of it!

Why did we need so much tile? In the basement bathroom we planned on tiling the floor, and then because of the size of the door going down to the basement and the size of the egress window, we ended up buying a shower pan and planned on tiling the shower walls, so finding this much beautiful tile was perfect! I went home, told the hubs about it and he was on board, but it took me a few days to calculate how much we’d need and get back there to buy it.

I went back with my VW Jetta and proceeded to load 13 boxes of tile onto my flat cart. At 65 lbs a box, this was a pretty big job.

Then I had to load all 13 boxes into the trunk of my car – and thank goodness I had some other co-workers with me to help :) Needless to say, the 900 lbs of tile in the back of my Jetta was a lot of weight. The front end of my car pointed up and when I turned corners, the body of the car rubbed against the tires. Eek!

I got it all safely home and showed off my find. I knew I’d gotten a ridiculous deal because I’m familiar with the Daltile brand, so I had to look online to see just how good it was. When I finally found a site that sold the exact tile and listed the price, I about died.

(not the actual color, ours is dark brown and almost looks like suede. pics to come.)

You see that? Retails for $662.74 for 13 boxes of tile. Wanna know how much I paid at the Restore? Wanna? Wanna?

$208! For all of it.

True story.

I’ll take some pictures of the tile and share the inspiration for our shower and the rest of the bathroom next time. Until then, get over to your local Restore to find some good stuff for your home and do a good thing.

The Nest: Renovating the basement

31 Jan

Remember last week when I told you there were exciting things on the horizon? Well those things are here!

Today marked the 1st day of our basement finishing project. I’d like to be cool enough to tell you that we’re doing it all ourselves, but that’d just be crazy, so we’re leaving it to the pros. Our contractor was referred to us by Ryan’s cousin and he’s a huge Hawk fan, so Ryan was sold. So far we really like him and his professionalism – stay tuned and if we’re still singing his praises by the end of this, I’ll share his info with ya’ll.

Anyway, the first step in finishing our basement happened long before today. Not only did we have to file a bunch of papers to get the financing for the project, we also had to do some major cleaning/organizing of the things in our basement. This led to 5 boxes going to Goodwill, 3 boxes to the trash and selling a few things on Craigslist. We found a VHS player, lots of mix cd’s, Ryan’s fish tank that he’s had since college (and sadly we’ve paid to move more times that I care to think about) and other random things that were hilarious to find in unmarked boxes.

Then last night, we prepped our house by moving the table under our photo gallery and covering the wood floors with thick paper. The contractors would be coming in through our front door, and he said he’d lay down tarps, but we wanted to be sure that our easily scratched floors were protected.

I’m sure you all know I’m a little particular about my house and like to keep things in their place, so having furniture moved around and paper taped to my floor is going to be tough to deal with for the next month or more.

At 7:30 this morning the doorbell rang and we had wood! (ok, bad joke) but the lumber was here and it was really happening!

When I got home this afternoon I was dreading walking inside and seeing the mess the guys had made as they carried in all of the wood to frame out the basement – but I was shocked when I saw that it looked the same as when I left this morning. Clean contractors? Yes, please!

For the first day they made some really good progress and should be finished framing by the end of the day tomorrow. Then it’s on to electrical, plumbing and then the messiest of all: drywall.

Doesn’t look like much, but any progress is good for me!

While the contractors do the heavy lifting, I’ve been planning – and shopping for the new spaces we’re adding to our house.

It’s a bit rough, but I mocked up a floor plan of what the basement will have once it’s all finished.

Having the basement finished will add another bathroom, bedroom and a living/play room for us. Finally all of Georgia’s toys will migrate to the basement so guests won’t see brightly colored plastic crap the second they walk in our front door. *deep sigh* I’m quite excited about that!

There is lots more progress, shopping and inspiration boards ahead – I hope you’ll stick around! (and tomorrow I’ll tell you about my incredible tile discovery and how I saved more than $400+ off of retail!)


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