Basement Family Room Progress

Here is my emotional rollercoaster when I take on big projects like painting the wood paneling in our 1970s basement family room/playroom.

 EXCITEMENT about a new project. ENTHUSIASM with the design process (which basically consisted of only 1 thing: paint colors). DREAD over the fact that I have to start another project. DENIAL over the fact that it still isn’t done and has been sitting in shambles for 7 months. ANGER that it is taking so long to get this stupid project done. PROCRASTINATION just one more weekend of fun with the kids and then I will finally get down to business. Then I come full circle back to EXCITEMENT that I get to organize, clean and decorate! WAHOO!

With this project came the dreaded task of tackling…….dunn dunn dunnn (insert suspenseful music here)……


There are three different types of wood paneling in our beloved basement. Some paneling very high quality….some not so much.

I really hated to paint over the high quality stuff but the basement is just so dark and dreary. Dare I say “cave-like”? (not “man-cave-like”… my husband could only dream). I knew that painting it would really brighten it up. And boy did it!

The results are night and day!












First of all, I did not paint this. Here is how it happened. My mom and dad went on a few business trips last month and they are also going to our Florida house for the entire month of January. During their business trips/vacations I watch my little brother and sister.

I become a stay-at-home-mom of FOUR, overnight. Are you picturing this? Running kids around to ballet, soccer, toddler time, basketball, cheerleading, story time, hip hop, jazz, gymnastics,youth group, tap, etc. Not to mention (ok, I will): cooking for them, doing all their laundry, taking them to school. So my mom came up with a genius idea to repay me: she hired the local painter to finish two rooms. HALLELUJAH!!!

Matt, the local painter, is GREAT! He really knows his stuff and helps me with tons of questions that I have had (like how to paint my kitchen cabinets). He thought he would do a little test with painting this room to see if we needed to sand all the paneling before painting it. He found out that all the walls needed were a good first coat of primer. After that he painted the walls with Valspar’s Medallion and the trim and shelving unit is Valspar’s Rich White.

Instead of doing my normal satin base for the wall he recommended a semi-gloss. He said with it being a basement it would reflect light better. And since we have little natural light down there I agreed semi-gloss would be the best.

I am very VERY happy with the results.


“Oh John-Deere-Green-Curved-Bar. How we will miss thee. You were only with us for a short time. Yet you managed to bring joy and laughter to everyone that walked into the basement and laid eyes on you.”

Here is my brother demoing the beloved curved bar.

Tears may have been shed during this process. It could have just been the sawdust in our eyes.


Umm, what decor? This is my hodge podge room. Just a bunch of leftover furniture, all the kid’s play rooms toys, and our “library.”

I did find some cheap frames from Hobby Lobby and wrote the categories for our library. Seriously, these are sad. I was really lacking enthusiasm with this project. I just used a black sharpie and some white paper. BORING. Maybe some cabin-fever day this winter I will spruce these up with a little scrapbooking project. But until then, they do the job.

I also replaced these bad lights (depressing, aren’t they?)

For these $19 “Boob Lights” from Menards.

Sorry if that offends anyone, but I heard them called “boob lights” once and now that’s what I think whenever I see them 🙂 They weren’t my first choice but they had the most bulbs (three, 60 watts) for the least amount of money. And since we need lots of lighting in the basement and we are trying to keep things inexpensive, I decided to go with the “Boob Lights”

I also spent a lot of time in this room organizing toys, games, and crafts. I used this armoire to store our games. This piece of furniture is suppose to go with Cohen’s crib and dresser but his room is tiny and it won’t fit. I also put a bunch of our musical instruments in each of the kid’s bins.

Don’t you love the tiny TV with fingerprints all over, apparently my daughter thinks it is a touch screen!? Not quite the 60 inch with surround sound my hubby was hoping for.

I swapped out these handles for some $1 ones from Wal-Mart. Much better.

The hinges on the cabinets show so we just painted those white so you can’t really see them unless you are close. (You may remember me doing the same thing in our Kitchen Cabinet Make-Over)

I love that we have tons of cabinet space down here too. I won’t show you what is inside them right now because that is another winter-time project (everything is just thrown in there). But if you did open up the cabinets you would find: our fancy drinkware, christmas gifts that I accumulate over the year, all of our kid crafting supplies, and FUTURE Give-Away Contest Items for my blog!!! (More on that later).



Carpet?: I am not sure if we will do carpet in this room either. I might just get some big leftover carpet from someone in town. Or I have considered getting those square foot carpet squares that only cost a few dollars a piece. (Like these) I just need to wait and get through one more “wet season” before we put carpet in the basement.

Cushions or Pillows?: I may make a cushion for this weird bench/support beam thingy (yes, that is the technical term).

Hardware: Maybe you noticed I am missing two handles for the cabinets. I found some cheap-o pulls at Wal-Mart and I couldn’t remember how many I needed. So I need to go and get two more.

Hole-in-the-wall?: You are probably looking at pictures trying to figure out what that big gaping hole is in the corner.

Your guess is as good as mine! There is an ancient fridge behind there.

So now I just have to figure out what to do with the door and the hole.

Most likely I will just hang something over it and call it good.

Ceiling Tiles: Sadly this is how the ceiling will stay. I don’t have the time, money, or patience to tackle putting in a new ceiling. Makes me want to go hibernate just thinking about a project like that.

Something for the shelf?: I need to make a trip up to Minnesota to IKEA and Home Goods to find some more “decor” for the shelves and some other places upstairs.

So let’s take a look at the transformation again, shall we? This is probably my most favorite room re-do so far. I know it is lacking in decor, but I just love how painting the wood paneling TRANSFORMED this space. 🙂


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7 Responses to Basement Family Room Progress

  1. Megan Hintz says:

    I seriously love your blogs. I can’t belive how crafty you are!! You’ve always been creative though. I laughed out loud on the “boob light” part because I thought I was the only one who called them that! Haha! Good stuff…. 🙂
    PS – I vote cushion on the bench/pole/thing, AND — you should have kept the bar. That’s all I have to say. lol 🙂

    • hahaha I am glad I am not the only one that laughs out loud whenever I read or see a “boob light” I am still searching around for ideas for the bench thingy. And the bar, yes we did consider keeping it but it was sooo weird. I mean, you couldn’t even put bar stools up next to it! It was just a really odd shaped thing. haha I am glad you saw the potential in it, I think the color was blinding me from any thoughts about salvaging it 🙂

  2. Jean Engle says:

    Hi Jenna!
    I love reading your blog too. Your Grandma Jackie told me about it. A thought struck me about covering the door with the hole in it…….How about getting a cork board, bulletin board type of panel and use it as a bulletin/photo board? Just a thought.
    I will miss your Gram when she leaves…….we have so many fun times together!
    Jean Engle

    • I am so glad you enjoy reading it and that my Grandma passed it on to you 🙂 That is such a great idea about using cork board, I am totally going to do that. That will be such a fun project. I love that my readers can help inspire me when I am in a rut. THANKS! 🙂

  3. Erin Bandow says:

    Enjoyed reading this Jenna! Wish I had some of your creative energy! Love the transformation, looks like a great place to “be”.

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