The Basement: Before

Warning: If you’re looking for pretty home improvement/design photos this is not the post. Please come back in 2 months and I’ll try and help you out with that.

The basement renovations are set to begin any day now and that means: Before photos! Yay! So get ready for a bunch of poorly lit (basement’s fault), and poorly photographed (my fault) pictures of a sad 1920s basement updated at some point in the 1960s.

Here’s the layout plans to help you get a better idea of the tour:

before and after basement plans

First stop on our basement tour is the current basement bedroom. When you come down the stairs the bedroom is immediately on your right. When we moved in a couple years ago, we removed disgusting carpet only to reveal disgusting concrete and linoleum. Our quick fix was to paint the floor with some porch paint and put an area rug down. We also painted the super shiny super dark wood paneling white.

basement bedroom before1

This room will see lots-o-changes. All the paneling will be removed. As will the ceiling which appears to be press board that is slowly decomposing. I will be glad to see it go.

The small window will be enlarged to an egress window, which will let more light in and be great for safety.

On the other side of the room: the closet will be removed and that area will become a large hallway leading to the new bathroom.

basement bedroom before2So now let’s step through the door. (It’s a tight squeeze as the door is blocked from opening by the large asbestos duct). Here we are in the current furnace room. Since the bedroom closet will be gone and this will be a hallway the window will now be exposed and not hidden and in dark closet.

basement furnace room beforeThe old cast iron stack will be at the edge of the new bedroom. The arm of the stack is really low and leaks so that will all be replaced.

On the other side of the furnace room…The current heating set up takes up a ton of space. The layout is made for a gravity furnace with large ducts covered in asbestos wrap and even larger cold air returns.

ducts beforeAn asbestos remediation company will remove the duct work and then the system will be updated with modern smaller ducts and returns. The furnace will be moved, allowing it to be tucked away with the water heater in its own closet. This will help us to gain a lot of space allowing for a bigger bathroom and the aforementioned bedroom hallway area.

Now let’s go back through the bedroom to the hallway.

basementhallbefore1There are currently no lights in the hallway area so it’s a little dark. The 1960s vinyl tiles are missing in a large spot and the old cold air return is taking up a lot of space. We are planning on carpeting the entire basement over the existing tile. So it will be interesting to see what we do to fill in some of these low spots where the tile is missing.

If you turn around to face the stairs, there is a space under the stairs that we plan to add a door and use as a small closet.


Now turn back around and let’s go into the current family room.

basementfamilyroom before1Removing the old ducts and cold air returns will make a big difference in here. Along with carpet, new walls and windows that actually open! I can hardly wait.

On the other side of the room.

basementfamroombefore2The “fireplace” structure will be removed. I say “fireplace” because it is a fireplace shaped thing made of stucco(?) with a capped gas pipe sticking out at the bottom. It will soon be gone replaced with a new smooth wall.

The wall between the current room and hall will be removed making a larger more open room.

basementfamroombefore3Now if we walk through the family room we arrive at the basement bathroom. The previous owner remodeled the bathroom and it looks really nice.

basementbathbeforeIt’s not functional for us and as long as were remodeling we might as well create a nice large bathroom, that will have access from the front bedroom and the family room.

Now let’s go back towards the stairs and end this thing on a somewhat pretty note.

The laundry room.

laundry room ashandorange.wordpress.comThis room will see the smallest amount of work. The huge cold air return will be removed. New drywall ceiling will go up. Dryer will be properly vented. Trim will be installed. Wha bam finished basement!

So that’s the current basement. Hope you enjoyed the tour. I’ll be blogging the renovation in real time so everyone can see our progress.

Basement Bathroom Ideas

Our basement renovation is set to begin in February. That gives me almost 4 months to obsess over all the details and the room I am currently obsessing over the most: the bathroom.

First we needed a layout. We knew we wanted access to the bathroom from the front bedroom but also liked the access from the family room so we decided on a Jack and Jill type bathroom with two entrances. This made the layout a little more tricky but we came up with something we think will work great.

basementbathroom layout blog

The shower will be on the exterior wall with the window in it. Directly across from the shower will be the vanity. I think the vanity mirror being directly across from the window will reflect light nicely. The toilet will be on the same wall as the shower. There will be a full length wall in between the two; giving the toilet its own private space.

For the design of the basement we are thinking simple and modern with rustic touches: white walls and pale floors with dark metals and warm wood. I want the bathroom to blend nicely with that design but also be pretty timeless.

Basement Bathroom

rejuvenation thurman wall sconce / west elm modern towel rack / ikea gray linen curtain / schoolhouse electric cast iron wall hook / ikea godmorgon vanity with odensvik sink / ikea dalskar faucet / serena and lily stool / white subway tile / ikea stabekk mirror / schoolhouse electric restroom sign / lowes leonia silver glazed porcelian floor tile

The tiles we chose set a nice neutral base for the bathroom. The shower wall tile will be classic 3×6 white subway tile. Simple white ceramic subway tile fits with the 1920s house and our budget. For the floor we are going with large 12×24 porcelain tiles in a striated gray pattern from Lowes. They are also a great price and the pale gray should give a little contrast to the white wall tiles while still being light (this is a basement after all). I plan to use pale gray grout for both the floor and the walls.

We already bought the vanity thanks to an Ikea sale. It provides a ton of storage and the high gloss white finish should reflect light and blend with the rest of the bathroom. The Odensvik sink is nice white ceramic and the 48″ vanity gives of the option of one sink or two. Right now we think we will stick with one sink but that is not set in stone.

I like the simple and clean base we set for the bathroom with the tile and vanity but I want to add some wood and dark metal elements to keep the bathroom from looking too sterile. These are also things that we can easily switch out if our style changes.

This wood mirror from Ikea is a good size and the round shape is a nice change with all the squares in the bathroom.

I think we might splurge a little on the lights and get some from Rejuvenation or Schoolhouse Electric. Whatever we choose it will be a dark bronze with a nice light filtering opal shade.

I like using hooks for towels and these cast iron hooks from Schoolhouse Electric would give some nice contrast all the white.

The teak stool could be used in the shower and gives some warmth and character. The wood and white towel rack from West Elm would be a great place to put clothes or extra towels.

I like the idea of using a linen curtain for the shower curtain. The Aina curtains from Ikea come in a nice pale gray linen and might be a great option.

As far as fixtures go: we plan to use this enameled cast iron shower pan from Kohler. We love our cast iron sink in the kitchen, and this shower base is simple and solid. No grout to clean!

For the toilet I am very fond of skirted toilets. So much easier to clean and they look nicer to me. I really like this American Standard model at Lowes.

Clean High Efficiency Elongated 1.28 gpf Toilet Shown In 020

That’s the basic plan for the bathroom. I am so excited to see all these ideas come to life. Only four more months…

August and September Garden

This post is a little late. August and September seemed to fly by and I can’t believe it’s almost Halloween. We’re still having 80 degree days so I think my mind still believes it’s early September. Despite the balmy late fall temps, I know winter is fast approaching and before the garden has gone to sleep I wanted to do a recap of August and September and some plans for next year.

Here’s the sketch I did of the garden at the start of the growing season.

garden sketch ashandorange.wordpress.comBed 1 was a late bloomer but turned out to be pretty great. The sweet peas I planted never did a whole lot, but a bunch of other things came up. We had a random tomato grow (maybe out of seeds from the compost?). It produced large tomatoes and they were delicious. It still has a couple more green fruit on the plant. I plan to leave them out there until the first frost.

large tomato

Some beautiful white and coral snap dragons also popped up.

Bed 2 has been very productive. Both the Indigo Rose and Grape Tami G tomato plants produced tons of tomatoes (we are still picking them daily). The grape tomatoes are delicious: really sweet and tangy. The Indigo Rose is more of a traditional tomato flavor, in my mind, but also delicious and really pretty.

grape tomato

Grape Tomato

Indigo Rose Tomato

Indigo Rose Tomato

The jalapeno plant produced some delicious and very hot peppers.

And last but not least the zucchini plant has given us more than a dozen great squash.

zucchini plant

Bed 3 has been the herb bed. The basil plants grew like weeds. At some point in September I stopped cutting the flowers off and just let them grow like crazy. They are about 2.5 feet tall right now and still growing. The leaves get bitter when the plant flowers so they have been more ornamental than edible this year.

The thyme also grew really well. The lavender and rosemary didn’t grow much, but also didn’t die, so I’m counting it as a win. I’m going to dig up the rosemary and plant it in a pot inside so I can enjoy it all winter.

Bed 4 was a hodge podge of perennials and volunteers. The sweet peas took off in September and had some gorgeous purple blooms. They looked great with the orangey pink and white snap dragons, blue delphinium, and bright orange marigolds and cosmos.

bed 4 ashandorange.wordpress.comBed 5 has given us tons of kale all summer. The parsley did great in this bed as well. The zucchini never grew. I think too much shade for it.

Bed 6 has a delphinium that bloomed in early July. It has some small shoots blooming again right now. I also transplanted a pink dianthus and it has had some pretty pale pink blooms.

Plans for next year:

This past summer was the most success we have had with the garden, and I learned a lot that I will use planning things out for my 2015 garden.

I want to combine beds 1 and 2 into one large bed. Tomatoes and zucchini do great here and need some more room. I plan on doing 3 tomato plants and one zucchini along the back with pepper plants in front. I also hope to have a better trellis system next year for both the tomatoes and zucchini. The plants got so large this year that the traditional tomato cages were falling over.

I also hope to plant a variety of greens in bed 5 where the kale did so well.

Hope everyone enjoyed following along as the garden grew. Can’t wait till next year!

Here are the links to the previous garden posts: June Garden and July Garden

Basement Renovation

About a year ago I was posting a lot about fixing up our basement laundry room. Our original plan was to finish the laundry room and then, being basement renovation experts, fix up the remaining 800 sq ft of basement. But, as with all DIY renovation projects, the laundry has taken more time and effort than originally planned/dreamed and we never became true basement renovation experts (shocking, I know). This got us thinking “Can we finish the entire basement ourselves?”  So we sat down and made a list of all the things we would change about the basement:

1. The modern high efficiency furnace is still using the original duct work for the gravity furnace that was probably here in the 1930s. That means huge air ducts (most likely wrapped in asbestos insulation), and huge cold air returns. The entire system takes up about 200 sq ft of space all together. We want to to utilize the space by consolidating the furnace and duct work into a better oriented and much smaller footprint.

2. The basement bathroom is only accessible from the family room. We want easier access to the bathroom from the basement entrance/bedroom and a bigger bathroom preferably with a sink that works and a toilet that flushes.

3. Everything else is pretty standard. An egress window for light and safety, insulated walls and new windows, carpet etc.

Our list of wants pretty much answered the question. And it was a loud NO. To get the basement we really want we need to completely redo the furnace/ducts and the bathroom. Both jobs for pros and not us.

Long story short…We found a contractor but he can’t start until February so until then I get to plan a million things out and play with SketchUp till my eyes bleed.

I drew a plan to show the changes we hope to make.

before and after basement plans

The current floor plan is on the left and the new on the right. All the new additions are in blue.

The layout will not change drastically. Mainly just the bedroom/furnace room/bathroom. . We will remove the current wall and closet that separate the bedroom from the furnace room. This will create a wide hallway that leads to the bathroom. The furnace and hot water heater will move creating more space for the new bathroom.

The new bathroom will be around 8 ft. x 8 ft. – much larger than the current 3.5 ft. x 7.5 ft. We plan on having a large vanity, 36″x48″ shower and separate area for the toilet. There will also be an entrance to the bathroom from the family room. This will be great for how we plan to use the basement, but also provides some flexibility in the basement layout. If we have kids or sell the house to a family, a wall up could be put up in the family room creating another bedroom. The bathroom could then function as a Jack and Jill between the two bedrooms.

So those are the plans as they stand. If all works out we will start in February with a timeline of around 2 months. I’m hoping to post regularly so everyone can live the ups and downs of tearing up the basement and building a much better one. And until then lots of posts about plans/finishes for the new spaces!

Art Above the Bed

Add this to the list of things that took way too long to be accomplished…

I have wanted to frame a large print of this beautiful cloud picture for almost a year. As of last week, that task is finally done.

picture above bed

The space above the bed was painfully blank: taupe walls and taupe headboard. I wanted something to contrast with the sea of taupe. I’m lucky to have an amazing pro photographer as a friend and when I saw this beautiful clouds at night shot, I knew it would be perfect for above the bed.

My favorite thing about this photo is you don’t realize it is taken at night until you look deeper and can see the stars dotted along the deep blue sky.

I bought a 20″ x 28″ Ikea Ribba frame and attached the frame to the wall with Command Velcro strips. They are a great tool for old plaster walls or people who like to change art around.

picture above bed

Once the picture was up it read a little small. I find things tend to read much smaller when they are actually up on the wall. This happens a lot to me, but I have yet to learn my lesson. If I did it again, I would get a 20×30 print to take up the entire frame.

A bigger print may be in the future, but for now I love looking up and seeing this beautiful photo above the bed.

Photo: “Friends” by Ryan Dearth. Check out his website for more gorgeous photos.
Frame: Ikea Ribba in white