Painting the Basement Storage Room

Ok, I finally pulled my ass off the couch long enough to do something useful. Or at least long enough to make a mess.

So we’ve got this basement, right? And it’s mostly just a place to store stuff. It hasn’t seen any investment in a long time, so it’s starting to look a little ragged. Previous owners had painted the concrete block walls and some of the interior walls, but it’s all yellowing, dingy, flaking, and pretty unsightly. Also, it’s just not very well organized. There are shelves, but not the right kinds, and not where we want them. Other spaces are undefined and not particularly useful.

Our goal with this project is pretty much just to paint everything, probably build a few new shelves while we’re at it, right? We have too much crap laying around to do the whole basement at once, so we’ll have to do it one room at a time. We’ll start in the storage room. It’s a decent sized room. Almost too big. Big enough that if you don’t have stuff stacked up in the middle of the room you feel like you’re wasting space. When we built our garage, a lot stuff ended up in the basement that should be in the garage, and a lot of it hasn’t made it’s way back out to the garage again yet. First we just had to haul all the stuff out. It’s just stuffed around in other places of our basement, which is now mostly unusable because of crap.

Ok, on to the pictures. Here’s what our basement looks like full of useless stuff.

Basement storage room is full of stuff.
Basement storage room is full of stuff.
One little shelf on that wall is dumb.
One little shelf on that wall is dumb.
Boxes and stacks of stuff next to the laundry chute.
Boxes and stacks of stuff next to the laundry chute.
Stuff stacked under the stairs.
Stuff stacked under the stairs.
Massive set of shelves.
Massive set of shelves. I never loved the doors on these. They’re always awkward.
Flaking paint. Looks like water damage, but dry to the touch.
Flaking paint. Looks like water damage, but dry to the touch.
Flaking Paint.
Flaking Paint.

After we had all the stuff moved out, we heavily debated what to do about the massive shelves. They are as sturdy as 200 elephants, but the wall behind them was in pretty rough shape. We wouldn’t be able to do a great job painting the wall with them in place, so we decided they needed to come out. We salvaged a lot of the lumber to use elsewhere. Anyway, the basic tasks here were as follows:

  • Use a wire brush attachment on a power drill to power scrape all the loose paint off
  • Use a hand wire brush as necessary in problem areas
  • Vacuum the walls
  • Scrub the walls
  • Use quick-setting hydraulic cement to patch some of the holes
  • Place three coats of DryLok paint on the masonry walls
  • One coat of primer on the interior wood framed walls

Here are some before-and-afters. More accurately, these are still in-progress shots since we don’t have the final coat of paint on any of it yet. The “before” shots are also after we’ve already brushed, vacuumed, and scrubbed the walls.

View 1 - Before
View 1 – Before
View 1 - After
View 1 – After
View 2 - Before
View 2 – Before
View 2 - After
View 2 – After
View 3 - Before
View 3 – Before
View 3 - After
View 3 – After

Really brightens up the space, huh? Even after three coats of the heavy paint, the walls are still yellowing a bit. Maybe we shouldn’t have gone with white paint?  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Next steps are to finish painting the walls, scrub the floor, paint the floor, then build some new shelving in here. Stay tuned.

Basement shelves

We’ve been working hard on the garage project lately, but we needed a bit of a distraction to get our minds on other things for a while. Luckily, our messy basement provided an easy afternoon project. Our basement was a holy mess, with all our tools and everything thrown around everywhere. It also doesn’t help that we have everything that should be in the garage stored down there too, including 6 bicycles, which take up some space! Here’s a shot of the back corner of the basement:

This place is a mess.

But hey, lookey here! After a bit of rearranging, a nice space in the corner emerges where we could build some shelves right in front of the sump pump.

Nice place for some shelves.

It’s probably not a great idea to build shelves in front of the sump pump, but we think we’ll still be able to access the sump if we need to…. not that it’s doing anything anyway since it hasn’t been plugged in since we bought the place (there are no plugs anywhere near the thing!).

So we set out to build some shelves. KP was an excellent helper for the day. She loved carrying around a box of screws, dumping them all out, then putting them all in the box again. So helpful!

Little Helper.

Actually, I know nobody really wants to hear stories about how adorable someone thinks their own kid is, but she was pretty darn adorable. Since she was holding the screws, any time I needed another one, I just had to hold out my hand and say “another one please”, and she would reach in the box, pull one out, and hand it to me.  If you don’t have kids, you’re thinking “blah blah kid story blah blah”. However, I assure you it was adorable.

KP handed me screws one by one.

BAM! Here’s what Mel, KP, and I ended up with! It’s made entirely out of 2×4’s and 1/2″ OSB. Four shelves, the bottom one 4″ off the ground to help keep stuff dry. The rear two posts are attached to the floor joists above to keep the shelves from tipping over.

Shelves in place.

I could put anything I wanted to on here! Items! Artifacts!

Empty Shelves.

Little Helper trying out the shelves with small booties.

Strong enough to support at least a dozen KP’s.

Then I couldn’t really think of a lot to put on them…. I’m sure I’ll think of something.

Loaded up. Sort of.

OK, nice little diversion, but now it’s time to focus on the garage again…

Rebuilding the Closet Shelves

One project that took us waaaay too long to finish was rebuilding the bedroom closet after we repainted. We’ve mentioned before that the previous owner smoked like a chimney, and apparently the bedroom closet must have been the hideout or something – the stains on the walls were worse in the closet than anywhere else. We never did take a photo of the how the closet looked when we bought the place. But the nasty old shelves didn’t last long – we ripped them out as quickly as possible. Here’s what the bare walls looked like after we removed the old shelves, but before we did anything else:

Before - looking left.
Before - looking right.

Gross, huh? The walls had been painted white sometime in the past, but they are now visibly brown and dirty. We scrubbed the walls pretty well – we just used a floor sponge and went to it. Here’s what it looked like after priming and painting:

After a coat of green paint.

Luckily, the scrubbing did an excellent job getting rid of the smell, and anything that lingered was sealed into place with the Killz primer we were using. I’m pleased to report that there is no longer any sign of smoke smells or stains on the walls!

Unfortunately, at this point we kind of ran out of steam on this project (or got distracted by holidays and presents and SANTA) and took a two month break before finishing it.

Next, we nailed some support rails to the wall to support the new shelves we were building. We used 1×4’s for all the rails, except for the sides where we would be attaching the closet rod in the future – in those places we used 1×6’s. We decided to install three shelves on each side. One at eye level, an upper shelf, and another one way down near the floor for shoes and such.

Install shelf supports.

Meanwhile, down in the basement, we were busy priming and painting the shelves. We re-used a couple of the old shelves, because they were solid hardwood boards that were way better quality lumber than you can ever find today (at least at the big box stores). For the rest, we used 1×12 pine. Ignore the blue shelf – that one went into a different closet.

Painting the shelves in the basement.

Once we finally finished all of this, Mel, KP, and I finally got around to installing the closet rods. We went with a brushed nickel look. We had considered going for a more industrial look using galvanized steel piping, but ended up deciding we’d be better off with just an off-the-shelf closet rod. Here’s some action shots showcasing our incredible photography skills.

Mel and KP measure where the rod supports should go.
I'm screwing one of the rod supports into place.

Here’s the final product, loaded down with a fraction of our clothes (just in case anyone out there wasn’t sure how to use a closet). We think it looks pretty good, other than that awful window that we decided not to paint, but haven’t decided what to do with yet. Please ignore it.

After - looking left.
After - looking right.

We’re thrilled with how it turned out. We love the white shelves contrasting with the green walls. How about you? What do you think of the closet?