Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Family Cave - Part 1

When we first moved into our house, we declared the basement Nick's "man-cave."  Sadly, less than 3 years later and it's much more the "princess cave" with a giant flat screen television, treadmill, and leather sectional.  Perhaps the best term would be the "family cave" since we all use part of the space for our activities and hobbies.

We've been brainstorming a way to make the basement more user friendly for all family members.  Since the space is one large rectangle, it's been hard to break down the room into smaller sections.  When we moved in, it was a giant box of potential...


The blank canvas...


About a year after we moved in, the basement finally got some color as Papa Kevin painted it Valspar's Clear Blue Sky, which definitely added some warmth to the big box space feel.  






Last summer, I finally moved some toys downstairs and tried to give Georgia a corner of the room to house some of her stuff and a place for her to hang out while I was on the treadmill.  We removed the large round glass wicker set that Nick once used as a dining set in his bachelor pad condo and I moved a bookcase over to the corner by the window so that Georgia could have a place to read and play.  We kept the various shelves and pictures on the wall that displayed some of our favorite scuba diving adventures.








Even with the updates, the area still wasn't doing it for me.  Every time I was downstairs, I would look around and think about how we could better utilize the space we had down there.  After our big sitting room transformation in 2013, I started to think more about doing some form of board and batten wall treatment down there too.  The giant walls still needed more depth and somehow needed to be kid-friendly at the same time.  The grand plan came together after we attended a birthday party for a neighbor and spotted the giant chalkboard wall they framed in their basement.  It was like a cartoon where the light bulb went off over my head!

Poor Nick - I briefed him on my plan and dragged him to Home Depot with ideas for our weekend project.  Okay, I didn't really have to "drag" him to Home Depot since any excuse to use power tools in our house is typically welcomed.  But, he may have groaned a few times as I changed ideas and we had to unload a cart full of stuff and start over.  We did as much measuring as we could ahead of time and had the staff at Home Depot do some major cuts for us to save us time at home.  



Day #1 - Blank canvas again

The good news is that since we already did a similar board and batten project last year, we knew where to start.  The first steps flew by and we quickly moved through steps that took us an entire day last time around.  We also knew that we wanted to keep the blue paint background, so we got to skip painting, which was a time consuming piece of the upstairs project.  

Since adding a second "baseboard" helped with the sitting room project in our master bedroom, we decided to use the same idea in the basement.  It helps to even everything out and also gives us a starting point with a nice thick piece of trim.  Again, we bought two pieces, cut them in half, added a 45 degree angle and met the seam in the middle of the wall.  


Adding the 1 x 1 primed mdf board to serve as our "extra" baseboard

Our original plan was to create a chalkboard wall on half the wall and a cork board wall on the other half so that Georgia could display her favorite pictures, artwork from school, etc.  As we would soon learn, the best laid plans don't always work out so well.  

We divided the space by using a 1 x 3.5 primed mdf board as our vertical slat (again, just like we used in the master bedroom).  It's amazing how quick it goes when you are only installing one of these guys vs the 9 we installed in our bedroom...




Glued to the wall and held in place with lots of nails (any excuse for Nick to use the nail gun for a project!)



No, you're not seeing things, those are definitely black spots on the wall.  It took me a few minutes to realize those marks were the holes from the previous shelving we had on the wall before this project started.


Next up, Nick installed a long piece of chair rail molding across the top.  Again, just repeating the same concept from the master bedroom project (step-by-step instructions here).  







We thought we bought the same chair rail that we used upstairs, but apparently we bought a thinner piece because it didn't quite have the same thickness as the vertical board that we had already nailed up.  No problem - Nick quickly got out the sander and tapered the piece to better meet the new chair rail.



Closer inspection of the sanded down tapering we had to do in order to get the boards to meet.  It didn't necessarily look "bad" without the taper, but the transition certainly did not look as seamless without the sanding.





After the not-expected-sanding step, we added the top piece to serve as a "shelf."  We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE having the shelf in our master bedroom sitting area, so we knew we definitely wanted to repeat that step down here.  Again, we used a 1 x 3.5 inch piece of solid pine board to serve as our shelf.  The pine is a pricier option, but it's heavier, solid and can stand up to serve as a shelf.




Nick nailing in the pine shelf



This is the point in the project where you realize that your "new" house of less than three years doesn't have straight walls.  Check out the gap between the shelf and the wall (and this is after we leaned, pushed, nailed, glued, etc.).  Lovely bowing...




Thank goodness for wood putty and lots of caulk


This is also typically the point in the project where your toddler discovers that there are lots of new "toys" to play with, including a tape measure, glue gun, a step stool, and various other objects that can easily cause bodily injury to a curious 2 year old.  Time to put on a movie...



Gotta love pajama pants, a pretty blue bow, green "Beauty and the Beast" socks and a striped shirt all coming together to form an outfit!  Don't judge... it's the weekend.

The rest of day #1 included lots of sanding, caulking, wood putty and other non-fun related activities that Nick and I both hate, but really lead to the end result that we want in terms of a flawless look.

Stay tuned for part 2, which will include a total change of plans thanks to some rather disappointing cork boards...






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