Need help transforming the soon-to-be-ours dungeon

makingitourhomeSeptember 15, 2010

I have been lurking on these forums forever and I finally decided to join. My husband and I are going to be closing on our first house in a couple weeks and we are beyond excited!!

However, I was hoping I could seek the advice from some of the more experienced homeowners and decorators here on the boards. For weeks, I have been trying to decide on the first (of many) renovation/redecoration projects to work on with this house. After much thought, I finally settled on the basement laundry room.

My reasoning is this. While the entire house is in a style that is totally "not us"... every room in that house has been lovingly cared for. It's clear that these folks really took pride in their home, and that's one of the many reasons we bought it. It may not be our style, but it's more than livable for now.

However, they definitely seemed to have not cared at all about the laundry space. Currently, it consists of a very old washer and dryer, a fridge (??) and a really disgusting utility sink. It's the one portion of the basement that is unfinished, and while they did try to paint it.... they went with a flat, dingy yellow. Between the poor lighting (a single bulb), the scary sink and the color... this space seriously looks like a dungeon.

My husband is the one who does the laundry. And yes, I know that I am a very lucky woman :) When he first saw that laundry room, I could see the dread on his face. After our offer was accepted, he even said "I love almost everything about that house... but I am going to hate going down into that basement to do laundry" I love him so much, and I really want him to have a place that he can enjoy going to when doing one of the worst chores known to man (in my opinion).

So here's the deal... we don't have much money, lol. I am hoping to be able to do this project for $300-$400 bucks (not counting a new washer/dryer). I don't mind using craigslist and repurposing things. I know I need a new color on the walls, I know I need better lighting. My original plan was to use PVC beadboard sheets to do wainscoating, but then I saw the price and it blew my budget totally out of the water.

I'm thinking of painting the floors with a dark brown floor paint and the walls with a very pale grayish blue. The ceiling tiles would be repaired (a few of them are hanging down) and I would paint them white (those are painted yellow too). I think the sink can be cleaned with some CLR. I plan on buying some shelves and maybe a cabinet on craigslist, painting them white, and replacing the hardware to something cheery and modern. I'll need to install a new low profile light fixture with a higher wattage, and maybe consider a floor lamp of some sort. We have the electrical panel and the well pump in the right hand corner, and to conceal it I was thinking of hinging some white louvered doors together to make a room screeen. Maybe I can find a nice rug and some curtains for the very small window there.

Here are my questions:

- Have any of you fixed up an unfinished basement space? Any general advice?

- What type of paint should I use? The basement is dry (we found no evidence of seepage or staining anywhere), and we'd always be running a dehumidifier, but I am still paranoid about mold and mildew. Would a standard semi-gloss work, or should I use a special product? Do you think I can just paint over their yellow paint, or should I prime?

- Is there anything that I can put on the walls to make everything appear a little less... basement like? I really wanted to do beadboard wainscoting. If the basement is dry, should I be able to use an MDF product, or should I shy away from anything porous?

- Is there anything in your laundry room that you just can't live without? Since I don't do much laundry, I am really clueless about it (just ask our poor comforter that I burned when I tried to "help" one day) and I would love to make a space that my husband can really enjoy. I want it to be light and cheery, but not overly feminine (since, again, he'll be the one spending the most time there). I have tried to get an opinion from him on what he likes, but he just looks and says "Well, anything would be better than what we have now".

:) Any advice here would be very much appreciated. If you have pictures of your laundry rooms, I would love to see them. I did check out the laundry/mud room gallery on this site and I enjoyed it very much. As soon as we get into the house, I will try to take some pictures of this place... it's pretty scary. Oh, and by the way... I am doing this as a big surprise to the hubby. He know's I'll be doing the room, but I am going to do the whole project by myself and reveal it to him a la HGTV, lol. And you know what that means... the entire time I am working on the room... I'll be in charge of doing the laundry so he stays out of there. Oh, the things we do for love :)

Thanks in advance for your help!

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Congratulations on your home, new to you. A well cared for residence as a first-time purchase is going to be "gold" because you will be finding that everything costs more than you can imagine, takes longer than you expect and there are more things on your growing "to-do" list.

You don't mention the room size but hopefully it is sufficiently sized to accommodate side-by-side washer/dryer, a soaking basin and a folding table.

What you want, I believe, is a clean and well lit laundry room. Without seeing anything, here are some thoughts that will stretch your initial budget without preventing future upgrades.

The appliances - Purchase the risers for front-loading ones. They really save strain on the back!

The basin - is it one of the square/rectangle, 1 or 2 basin concrete ones? Does it leak? If yes to concrete and no to leaking I would leave it. Clean it, paint the exterior and use plastic dishpans inside for soaking. Removal and disposal of those old ones is alot of work. In the future, you can install a base cabinet with a laundry tub.

The walls - Purchase some concrete paint and paint them.

The lights - Purchase a couple fluorescent "box" lights. In the future you can install a drop ceiling with cannister lights for a more finished space.

Folding Table - Purchase a "Monroe" type table with folding legs. You'll find plenty of other uses for this table at holiday dinners, garage sales, gift wrapping, etc.

Storage cabinets - I'm confident you can locate some totally functional wall cabinets someone is disgarding for a kitchen remodel. Paint them.

Floor - Personally, I don't like painted basement floors. They always chip. Buy some vinyl tile squares or a section of sheet goods that you can cut to fit the room. $2 a square foot tops.

You can always upgrade to beadboard and the like later but some simple, relatively inexpensive, changes can get you started until you have "lived" in the space long enough to really know what you want. Just suggestions from one who has restored several old homes. Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 10:04AM
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Thanks so much for your thorough reply. I appreciate your insight on this project. I didn't realize painted concrete floors chipped so easily. I am glad I know now so I don't waste my time.

The room is a pretty decent size- definitely enough space for a side-by-side washer and dryer. A friend and I were just talking about the risers and how they are such a good idea. I will definitely make sure to include those when we purchase our new washer and dryer.

The wash basin is rectangular and appears to be made out of stainless steel. Any advice on that? Do you think I could actually paint that somehow?

There is actually a ceiling there now (but they are tiles stapled into the floor joists above. Do you think I can paint those? Or do you think we should rip the whole thing down and put in a drop ceiling?

A folding table would be an excellent idea.

Thanks again for your input. I really appreciate it!

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 4:19PM
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If the basin is stainless, clean and polish it. It will look new. Be certain to "rub" in the grain direction of the metal. Doubt that stainless will hold paint. If it is galvanized, then speak with a local paint store. Back when guttering was galvanized, Rust Oleam had a primer that bonded.

Drop ceilings permit access and are often used in basements for such purpose. Since yours is stapled now, it was not for access. Personally, I'd pull it down and install drywall. Less costly and, in my opinion, looks nicer. Generally gives more ceiling height too. If your budget permits, you can install lighting into the ceiling too.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 6:18PM
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For $300-$400, that sounds like:

* One can of concrete paint (Behr at HD is pretty good) $25
paint tray kit, $12
(For some extra bling, paint one (only one) of the walls a deep, rich color)

* Sheet vinyl + threshold (buy the really thick one that doesn't need glue), $125 or so. (floor does need to be really FLAT, if not, buy a carpet remnant and have the edges bound.

* Lighting, 4' boxed flourescent: $60 each (?) or so.

* Shelves: 6' white melamine + brackets, $20/shelf.

* Ceiling tiles. Is it a drop ceiling? You can paint, but you can also replace with some that are more contemporary. $100 or so. Take a look in the big box store.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 9:35AM
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