Friday, January 6, 2012

Basement Renovations

Happy New Year everyone! Life and a lack of cooking are my two excuses for my absence from blogging. Plus, Giz has been doing a good job holding up the fort.

In the life department, we've been busy with household renovations, namely updating the basement. The goal is to turn what has been a mish-mash of storage and guest room into a comfortable, appealing living space.

I started with painting our white fireplace.

I prefer a more natural look. So, I purchased some Brick-Anew paint, in taupe. 

Here's a step-by-step pictorial of the progression after each coat:

Step 1:

Step 2: 

Step 3: 

Step 4:

So far, I'm happy with the result.  I may tinker with the colours a bit more to even out the colour a bit more.  Plus, the hearth and mantel look kind of ridiculous. So, I plan to plant them a dark brown colour so that they look more like wood and not something out of a bad 80s paint job.

I actually think it looks better from a distance:

Next, we moved on to dealing with the floors.  We started out with about 6 different types of flooring to deal with. There was a rug (cut to look like a carpet), with who knows what bacteria growing in it.

Under the rug and (I'd estimate) 30 year old ceramic tiling, there was VCT (vinyl composite tile...or quite possibly, given the age, vinyl asbestos tile; VAT).

We soon became experts in the downfalls of adhering your VCT to the cement floor with black tar, something installers used to do "back in the day." Namely, getting the stuff off would require some heavy toxins and scraping.

We opted to just keep it on, but that limited our options for covering it. Our initial plan to put in new ceramic tiling was foiled. Instead, we opted for a floating floor using Vinyl Allure.  Here it is, part way through. The black layer is a waterproofing layer, recommended (but perhaps not essential) for basement installations.

It sort of looks like tile, but it's joined by sticky edges. Installation basically involved an xacto knife, a ruler, pencil and tape measurer. We used an offset pattern, which was recommended by the guy at Home Depot to avoid showing imperfections in the alignment of 'tiles'. But, it required some focus and mental rotation to figure out where to mark for the cut (particularly when working around doors).

In addition to the 80s tile and VCT, there was also some sort of sticky tile on the perimeter of the room over top of the VCT (you can see it in the next picture). I can't quite figure out why it was put there.  Any theories on that?

We also had laminate flooring throughout part of the basement. It was in good condition, but not at all part of the design plan (let's just pretend that I have a design plan).

Since the stairs already had carpet on them, we R removed it so that there would be consistency between the stairs and the basement.

We had briefly debated what to do for flooring throughout. The basement is a pretty cold space, so something warm on our feet was a must. I really like the feel of plush carpets. But, in the end, R's preference won and we went with berber carpet. I'll admit, the maintenance is probably easier since it doesn't show footprints the way plush carpet would. The carpet people said that men tend to prefer berber and women tend to prefer plush carpets. Who knew?

Carpet installation was a bit of a fiasco. We were told by the guy that came to do the measurements that we didn't have to remove the VCT/VAT. Turns out the people that do the measurements for things don't always provide accurate information. After about 10 minutes of installing the tack strip, we were told that they couldn't continue to do the work until we remove all of the VCT and sticky tile. That was frustrating because it basically meant that the time taken off from work, to be home while the installation took place, was for naught.

It may have worked out for the best though, because the smell of the carpet was pretty strong. So, getting the installers to come back a day before we left for vacation gave us about 10 days of airing out time without being home to smell the off-gases.  Plus, I'd rather take an extra day off work and have the installation done properly.

So far, I'm satisfied with the carpet.  It's soft on the feet and the colour is pretty much what I expected.

It's pretty close the original carpet we had picked out, which was no longer available when we were finally ready to make the purchase.   I prefer the non-patterned, slightly more natural (in my opinion) look of the sample, below.  But, the carpet we went with is softer.  

So, now I've got a pretty neutral canvas to work with. I don't want the room to be boring. So, I think it's going to be a bit of trial and error. Suggestions are more than welcome (as long as it doesn't involve changing what I've already done)!!!

Next up:

- paint the walls (including a feature wall or two)
- paint the baseboards and install new quarter-round
- switch out the light fixtures
- decorate (I'd love to put shelving around the fireplace -- not that I have any carpentry skill, mind you)
- figure out what to do for window coverings

We're not exactly the fastest with renovations. But, I'll post an update as soon as possible/available.


That Girl said...

I am so impressed with your DIY fireplace!

giz said...

So this is what happens when you watch all those renovation reality shows. It looks so great. Yeah, that green on the walls has to go. But most importantly, I'd like to see my room :)

Torviewtoronto said...

Lovely post on the renovation i like the fireplace too
Looking good :) happy new year to you and family

kat said...

After just redoing two bathrooms I know the joy of living through a remodel! Looks like you guys are coming along fine & "embracing" all the fun things of an older home.

MBAMama said...

Have you considered building a wooden box over the mantle and hearth instead of painting? Easy to do and will definitely look more natural than any paint job

Psychgrad said...

MBAMama - I have considered it for the mantle! I would love to do that -- I just don't know how to make them. I've looked at a few online tutorials, but they were a bit intimidating. I don't think I would do it for the hearth though.

Psychgrad said...
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Kim Bee said...

I LOVE that fireplace. You did an outstanding job on it. Really looks natural. We have a red brick one in ours. Matches our exterior of the house. I like it but have often thought of changing it. Good luck with the renos. We bought my folks home after my dad passed away and took 3 months to gut the upstairs. Redid all the landscaping front and back too. Plus new siding and painted the doors. Had a blast. Long three months. Worst part was scraping all the popcorn ceilings. Yuck! lol

Bunny said...

You have done a fantastic job! The fireplace looks terrific. It's great you were able to do all this yourselves.

A Canadian Foodie said...

What an ambitious undertaking - and such incredible attention to detail! It looks gorgeous and what a lovely space it will be. A great way to start the new year!

girlaboutOtown said...

You've been busy! Yikes. That's a lot of work. Congrats. The asymmetrical fireplace is tricky for sure, but why fight it? Embrace it! I like the idea of bookshelves. Lots of books bring life to a room... :)