Terrific Broth

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

Category: Renovation Page 2 of 24

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!



Master Planning


How are we in June already? The days in April and May were such a blur. We spent most of the April researching about basement renovation, interviewing contractors, and comparing bids. May was entirely devoted to making decisions on everything basement bath-related. Slav has been busy with his work during this whole time, and somehow we still managed to celebrate a birthday with friends.

The basement reno has picked up the pace. I’ve shown you the demo in the living room, bedroom, and bathroomthe installation of the egress window, the new electrical panel and recessed lighting, and how we sound proofed the basement. This week we crossed finishing line of framing and plumbing, which gave us a lot better idea of the new layout.



1. The bathroom

To expand the bathroom we demoed the hallway closet, which I briefly talked about here. The goal is to accommodate a double-sink vanity in here.

The shower area



The shower will remain at the end of the room, with the shower head on the left side. A double-sink vanity will be placed next to the shower on the wet wall, and a medicine cabinet will be installed above the vanity and under the soffit.


The toilet will locate under the air duct and close to the doorways. I am not a big fan on having the toilet next to the door, but we’d rather place toilet but not the vanity under the low ceiling.


We are in the process of picking out the tiles for the bathroom. We have basically narrowed down to using two tiles, a large dark one on one wall and the floor, with a white subway tiles on the other three walls.


2. The master bedroom

By removing the closet wall used to divide the two bedrooms, we created a big and long bedroom. The I beam has been boxed in and will be drywall-ed over, which creates a natural divider to separate the sleeping area from the closet area.


Under the egress window will be our sleeping area. We decided to put the king bed on the wall adjacent to the backyard for less noise, more fresh air, and east facing windows. The bed will be centered on the east wall of the master and flanked by the floating nightstands I built last year. The column to the right envelopes of the supporting columns for the I beam. I am considering putting a skinny bookshelf on the left to mirror the column on the right, which along with the I-beam creates the look of a sleeping nook.


This is the view from the living room, through the two bathroom doors, into the bedroom. It will be a simple but comfortable space to nest.


The front side of the bedroom, which is next to the front yard and under Slav’s office, will become a closet area. We plan to align wardrobe cabinets along the wall on both sides, which will provide more storage space than we currently have in the bedroom closets.


3. The utility room

The last big changed we made is to remove the wall between the living room and the utility room. Remember the old laundry/utility room when we moved in? It was just a small hallway and hard to even open the dryer door. We first demoed a bedroom there to open up the utility area, and now with the living room wall coming down, we have the entire place opened up to the living room.


We do plan to frame an utility room closet down the road to enclose the furnace and the water heater, and add a countertop on top of the washer/dryer. The small closet under the stairs will remain as a storage space.


4. The living room


Compared to other rooms, the living area changed the least. Aside from losing a wall, the only change is to add recessing lights and sound proofing in the ceiling. Instead of making this another living room, we will likely using it as a media/reading room. Before the sound proofing material went in the ceiling, electrical and Ethernet for TV box and projector had been put in. Slav has big plans for this space, and all I am responsible for is choosing a big and comfortable sofa down here. It will be a great room for late evening movies and friends to gather, but for rest of the year this big and empty room will probably remain big and empty.

The month of June will be hanging the drywall and tiling the bathroom, which will be done by a contractor. We will take the torch in July, after the drywall is finished.  Before moving down here we still need to paint, figure out clothes storage, and hopefully install some flooring at least in the bedroom before we move down here. We are far from fruition now, so it is hard to imagine to have smooth drywall and functional toilet again. There are still lots of decision to make (paint! shower doors! floors!)  and lots of little things to consider (tower bars! toilet holders! bathroom storage!). And I am trying to pump the optimism by keeping myself busy shopping. Cannot wait for everything to be over!

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