Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Tag: Basement Page 3 of 9

Picking Out Flooring for the Basement

While it is still 90 degrees outside, we start to see signs of Fall. The backyard maple tree starts changing color, and our garden tomatoes are going stronger than ever. The nights are in the 50s which is such a blessing – I love sleeping with windows open and fresh breeze.

We have entered a busy September full of business meetings, work trips, Fall planting, and before-the-winter outdoor projects. Most excitingly, we started shopping for basement finishes. Paint, flooring, trim, baseboard, and even furniture. Yesterday I brought home 12 gallons of paint and primer. With 750 square feet of the walls and 500 square feet of ceilings, I will be surely spending some quality time with my paint sprayer.

On top of the paint we’ve decided on the basement flooring. Although we prefer wood flooring to any other type, being in the basement we decided to use something truly waterproof. Tiles have gone down in the bathroom and will be in the utility room where our washer and dryer are. For the rest of the area? Luxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring there will be.


We did look into luxury vinyl tiles, which will making leveling the floors of living space with the tiled floor in the bathroom a breeze. But we also want something softer and warmer than tile. After some debates between wood look (Slav) v.s. marble look (me), dark tone (Slav) v.s. light tone (me), we settled on the Nucore Driftwood Oak, a medium-tone, wood-looking LVP. It has the most natural-looking wood grains and a rich color that is neither too yellow, too red, nor too grey.


The picture above shows the Driftwood Oak LVP on top, our dark bathroom floor tile in the middle, the shower pebbles at the bottom, and the white subway bathroom wall tiles to the right. I like how well the Driftwood Oak pairs with all the tiles. It appears rich and dark next to white tiles, but somehow lighter and airy next to dark color. The latter also applies to the black bed we have:


Nucore is a fairly new product and does not have many reviews on its durability. But on paper it does have one of the thickest wear layer (22 mil) compared to other LVPs (6~12 mil). With two dogs who like to race up and down the stairs we will be putting this LVP to test especially at the landing area.


Oh, from the picture you can probably tell that Slav has already ripped off the paneling. Instead of this:


We now have this:


Slav will be putting up the drywall this weekend before I start painting. After a long summer of not being able to do anything in the basement, I have such an urge to get it finished. I started feeling my DIY blood boiling – so stay tuned for more updates!

Planning a Basement Media Room

When it comes to home renovation, I am always the one coming up with ideas. From the purpose of the place to furniture placement, from the vibe of the room to the paint color, I spent weeks contemplating every detail of the room before presenting them to Slav. Planning our basement renovation was no exception. As soon as we decided to make the north side a master suite, I kept feeling the large space we called “living room” should become our new media room.

Let me remind you this space we called “basement living room” for the past two years. It is the first room you walk into when entering the basement, and it is a large 22′ x 12′ common space that opens to all the bedrooms, the hall bath, and the laundry space.

Ranch basement_current

During the first year we lived in the house, we combined the laundry room and the neighboring bedroom to create a big utility room. Last year, we removed the wall between the new utility room and the basement living room to create an open floor plan.

Ranch basement_proposal 1

Most recently, we converted the remaining two bedrooms into one big master bedroom, and expanded the hall bath into a bigger master bath. The current floor plan looks like this:

Ranch basement New Floor Plan

As you can see, this 22′ x 12′ “living room” space has become a buffer zone between the basement entry and our master suite. It is still the first room you walk into when entering the basement, and the only room from which we access the most private space in the house. Functionally speaking, this space should have some characteristics of a sitting room, where we could curl up with a book, as well as those of a family room, where we could sprawl out for a movie. When we host guests, who will be sleeping on the main floor, this room should function as the second living room to which we could retreat and relax in private.


Therefore, we decided that this room functions the best as a media room, which will house a comfortable sofa, bookshelves, and our projector/home theater setup for late night movies. We also envision a dry kitchen/bar area so we can make hot and cold beverages without going up to the main floor.


This room is a long 22′ x 12′ space and could comfortably house everything we need for a media room.  After getting Slav’s input on the home theater setup, we have decided to put a TV on the west wall neighboring the bedroom; the projector screen will be mounted on the ceiling right in front of the TV so we can get more cinema experience while watching movies.


A big sofa on which both of us and our dogs can sprawl out will be placed in the middle of the room, facing the TV/projector wall.

Ranch basement New Floor Plan_1

Behind the sofa will be a reading area. I imagine a big, comfortable chair surrounded by several small bookcases and a big electrical fireplace. It will be where I hibernate during Christmas.


The big opening to the utility room will not remain open, and the utility room will not stay as an unfinished laundry space. Our basement 2.0 plan includes finishing the utility room as a dry kitchen, with a big island on the right half of the opening facing the media room. We would like to be able to serve some drinks and make simple breakfast in the basement, which will be extremely helpful during the main kitchen renovation.


Despite of calling it a media room, I try not to let it become a mancave. Slav does not crave that vibe and I do not want to create a place meant for isolation. Aesthetically speaking, I would like the new media room to be just as cozy, calming, and breezy as a bedroom, which can be a challenge with all the media equipment such as TV, projector, and speakers. We are in the process of choosing the flooring, picking paint color and making furniture decisions while our contractor is still working on the bathroom. Below is a sneak peek and I cannot wait for the day when the bathroom finishes!




Closing Up the Walls! A Basement Update





I have not talked about the basement renovation for a while. Progress has been made, just not at the pace we were hoping for. But today, I think it has improved significantly compared to our last update and finally worth another post.


First, drywall! The picture above shows the wall between the basement living space and the utility room. We took off the paneling here and some of the wall framing to open it to the living room. Below is how it looked like after we added soundproofing insulation around the furnace:


Now, fresh drywall covered the insulation, I-beam, and the new framing around the doorway:


We also removed all the ceiling drywall in the basement for new electrical and sound insulation. Since then, we have been looking at a sea of brown for a couple months:


You can imagine my excitement when the ceiling drywall was hung. Bright and smooth ceiling made this space feel like a room again, even without paint:


More drywall happened in the master bedroom. In addition to the ceiling, the newly framed soffit was covered and all the remaining walls were smoothed out:


The vertical column next to the door contains the supporting column for the I-beam. It was exposed after we removed the closets dividing the two bedrooms.


Inside the new soffit are the horizontal I-beam, a big air duct, and the HVAC pipes.


A much improved look from this:


The recessed lights and smooth ceiling definitely made the ceiling feel higher. Below is the space below Slav’s office, which will be our future walk-through closet.


The space next to the bathroom will host our king bed and night stands. The pocket door to the right leads to the new master bath:




Speaking of the new master bath, it is a complete different space now with the walls closed up:


Under the window will be a shower area, hence the pebbled flooring and the red water-proof coating. The double-sink vanity and a big medicine cabinet will be mounted on the blue coating-covered wall:


Neighboring the two doors will be the toilet. We asked the contractor to add a electrical outlet behind the toilet for a bidet attachment.


It is not our preference to have the toilet so close to the doorways. In another words, I’d rather to have the vanity here and the toilet next to the shower. But the ceiling at this corner is lower due to an air duct, so it make the most sense to place the toilet under the lower ceiling. The pocket door will save some space in front of the toilet.


With all the surfaces smoothed out in the bathroom, our contractor has started tiling. The floor tiles were completed last week:


We chose a smokey black/grey color for the floor and pebbles in a similar color for the shower area. I think they complement each other nicely.


Next week we expect to see tiles on the walls. The same dark floor tile will be carried up onto the wall neighboring the bedroom, budding against the pocket door. The end wall and the vanity wall will go white. We want the bathroom to look simple and sleek with big contrast.

I did not expect finishing drywall to be such a significant step in the basement renovation – all the sudden, all the rooms look like rooms again, which invites all the imagination on how they should look eventually. We still have lots of big decisions to make: paint colors, flooring, shower doors, bedroom closet layout, the color and finish of the stairs, and whether to drywall over the big section of paneling in the living space. Each one of these factors can drastically change the feeling of the basement.




For example, what should we do with the living space paneling? It will not stay brown for sure. Slav insists in covering it with drywall, but I would like to paint it white first to see if they can disappear with a lighter color. What do you think? Drywall or paint?

Since we completed the demo, almost 4 months have passed. This basement renovation has been a slow and painful process, but nevertheless, I am happy to be at a point that we enjoy thinking about the basement again. In the next a few posts, we will discuss how we are gonna use the living space, the flooring choice, and the potential bedroom layout. At the meantime, I am impatiently waiting for our contractor to finish tiling and wrap up the bathroom. Because after that, it will be DIY time again!



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