The Basement

When Lis and I bought our house, its basement was one of the boring colors I like to call "basement gray". Coupled with a drop ceiling and strange drywall work, the basement as a whole wasn't terribly inviting. We decided to do something about that in December of 2006.
Here's what the room looked like before we started. Somebody in the past had put down carpeting, drywalled over everything that didn't move, dropped a ceiling from the floor joists, and painted everthing the same color. It's what a typical basement tends to look like these days, but not what our basement was going to look like.
This is the back wall of the same room. The tile pulled back in this picture and the previous one was from our final examination of what exactly was up there. Everywhere we looked was the same: dust.
After a while we had taken all of the tiles down except for the two with lights in them. We still had to take the rails down too, but already our basement was several inches taller than it used to be, even after you take into account the new pile of dust on the floor.
After the mess was cleaned up, the room looked like this. The ceiling rail is still up around the perimiter, so you can see how much height we gained by taking it down. You can also see the amazing finishing work that was done on the top of the drywall with knowledge that nobody would see it. That quickly became the catchphrase of this project: "Eh, nobody will see it."
Here's the back of the room again. The white joists, white doors, white trim, and basement-gray walls sure do all blend together.
Eventually we pulled everything out of the room so we could start the painting process. Here you can see where I took down one of the weird boxes that had been put up to cover a pipe on the right wall. It was a huge box for a tiny pipe! We decided we liked the pipe better than the box, so we took it down and patched up the holes.
While in Omaha over Christmastime, my dad agreed to let me bring his paint sprayer back with us for painting the ceiling. Since spraying an indoor room isn't exactly the cleanest thing one can do in the room, we had to cover everything that we didn't want painted. This involved covering the floor with a big blue tarp, the windows, doors, and outlets with newspaper, and ourselves with goggles and face masks. Note that we didn't bother covering up the cat.
Here's what the back half of the room looked like after getting taped up. The clear plastic on the floor eventually covered the openings on the right. Afterwards, the whole room resembled a scene from ET.
Painting with the sprayer took a little getting used to, but after a couple of coats the ceiling looked pretty good. It's still very wet and very shiny in this picture, but already we could see the transformation progressing.
Eventually we got to doing the red on the walls. This picture was taken while the first coat was drying; it's pretty clear that we would need at least another coat. We didn't use the sprayer for this, 'cuz we didn't want to tape off the entire ceiling. Plus, using rollers was quick and easy. Using rollers on the joists would have taken forever.
When we had enough paint on the walls that they looked good, we pulled up the tarp and went back to boring carpet. Unfortunately, replacing the carpet would take a lot of effort, so we decided to just leave it as is for now.
Here we are in the process of putting up a new set of lights in the back of the room. The new color scheme seemed kind of movie-theatre-like, so we went looking for some lights that kind of fit into that theme. I think the ones we found fit the bill nicely enough.
Here the lights are up and casting their glow over the room. Since they were the only lights in the room at the time and since we had recently painted the ceiling black, the lights kind of washed themselves out. Don't worry, they look even better in real life.
Since this room was to be used a a TV-watching room, we decided it needed some subtle lighting that could be used when we didn't want other lights on. An after-Christmas sale dropped some rope lights into our laps, and we strung these along the foundation underneath the joists to add just a little light.
The last step before filling the room up with furniture again was to put a strip of molding along the top wall. This strip nicely frames the red walls and the black ceiling, and it also covers the badly-aligned drywall tops.
Finally, we moved our mismatched furniture back into the room. The next few pictures show how the final product turned out. We're pretty happy with the results, and it certainly makes the room much more appealing to us to actually use. We still have several pictures to hang and some furniture replacing to do before it hits perfection, but we like the results.