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basement makeover: playroom paradise

so in the midst of the madness of december, we decided to start this basement project with a goal of having it complete-ish by christmas. david and i had been going back and forth thinking about transforming our basement dungeon into a bina play paradise.

it all started when he got her a used play house a month ago. we set it up in the basement and wiped it down with wet rags and clorox wipes. we also had a slide and a seesaw that david found for free over the summer while running around the neighborhood the night before trash day. free-ninety-nine. we'll take it. those had been in the garage because we intended to use them in the backyard but once the playhouse came down to the basement i felt they needed to join the party.

when everything was down there i took a look around and imagined painting the walls of the basement a light bright blue, adding some trees, and installing a green foam tile floor to look like grass. the outdoors indoors, if you will. i thought of making a little storefront out of an IKEA kallax shelf on its side, some pvc pipe, and an anthropologie shower curtain currently not in use since we only have one tub in our michigan house. i thought of making a teepee. we could hang additional lighting from the ceiling, like stars or something. now that it is getting cold and bina is only growing in her need to run in circles and climb and grab everything she can get her little hands on, the thought of a bina-proof basement play area is very appealing to me. so we decided to start the diy conversion process.

first, david had to bleach the crap out of the walls and floors because they were FILTHY. also, mildew. i love david. he is such a workhorse. i dream up these crazy ideas, he makes them happen. we're a good team. but i get to do the fun part and he gets all the grunt work. my dreams would not happen without him. love.

next, david sealed up some cracks in the walls with hydraulic cement. david completed that task several weeks ago. good news is, no water will be coming through the foundation. bad news? we have to wait 90 days to paint over it. 90. DAYS. that's three months. so basically my plan goes down the toilet and so do all of my dreams for bina's play paradise by christmas. ok, slightly over dramatic. mostly these spots are small-ish and in regular intervals around the bottom perimeter of the room. so we could kind of paint around them and then finish painting those spots... in march. not ideal, but we made do.

we got some cement prime and seal paint and some spring mint paint (i copied young house love's color they used for their master bath ceiling) for my lovely blue sky walls. i tried one other blue to make sure that spring mint was the right one, and it was. it's the stripe on the left in the photos below. i got four test pots of different greens for my trees, and a gray-brown for the trunks. i didn't end up going with the color swatches pictured below because i didn't think they were bright enough for the space. david handled the sealer and the spring mint and once that was all dry i started working on my trees.

i found my inspiration for the trees on google images.

i started with the trunks and then painted each color one at a time. two of the colors needed two coats, which was incredibly annoying. and i still have to do some touch up on the trunks with my craft brushes. but i was super pleased with the way the trees turned out.

i measured (but not twice, which i later regretted upon installation) and ordered my green foam floor tiles from before we started the painting. turns out we are working with MORE than 400 square feet of space. so i had to do a second order to make up for my poor measurements. live and learn. david finished the installation last night.

we decided to install a gate at the bottom of the steps because bina is a monkey. i also wanted to get some lattice or something to block off the open side of the staircase because i thought bina would climb through or fall off the stairs. david was like: no way. and then... she made a game out of climbing through to the stairs, opening the baby gate, going through the gate, and doing the whole loop over and over. so we installed a lattice. now she can't climb up and teach jake how to go through the baby gate from the stairs anymore. bummer, jake. you're stuck forever.

the cement walls were too bumpy to do any detail work with the paint. i originally wanted to have trees AND birds, but then abandoned the birds because it would have been too difficult to paint. we do have a small section of drywall off the stairs where the playroom is sectioned off from the storage area of the basement. so i decided to use that space for a sort of entry quote and artwork. i was wanting something to express creativity, curiosity, and exploration. bina is my little curious explorer. i used pinterest to search for the right quote and as soon as i saw this one i immediately fell in love.

and then instead of mountains i decided to put in my birds that i had wanted to add with the trees, with inspiration from my google images search.

and so now we have a cute little entry quote and artwork that i had a lot of fun painting. way more fun to paint on drywall than bumpy cement. sheesh.

i hit up IKEA with a friend and our littles earlier this week and planned to pick up a kallax bookshelf to make my little store for bina. i was still kicking around the teepee idea in my head but i was kind of worried about how much space it would take up and then there's the whole bina pulling the teepee and all the wood posts down on herself... while i was in the kids section of IKEA i found this adorable little tent that was just the right size for bina and a lot less work than putting together a teepee from scratch. bina loved running in and out of it. sold. tent is now setup in the basement. it doubles as a dog retreat (if sharing a tent with bina can be called a retreat).

IKEA had a simpler solution to the awning for my store as well. i originally planned on pvc pipe but i was concerned about mounting it to the bookcase in case we wanted to use the bookcase for another purpose down the road. also i could just see bina ripping off the pvc pipe or trying to climb the awning or something crazy. because. monkey. IKEA had a metal rod shelf to make an awning, which would be mounted to the wall instead of to the bookcase. it wouldn't go out as far as the pvc pipe model would, but it would save me the hassle of a trip to home depot and putting all that together and mounting it to my brand new bookcase. problem solved. metal rod shelf awning with my extra anthropologie shower curtain that i clipped to death to make it the size i needed for the awning. no cutting anthro shower curtains. maybe we will have another bathroom in the future with a tub. anyways, then we gathered up all those old ugly sheet mirrors we had in all of our bathrooms and pieced them together to create an optical illusion like: hey don't look at the framing without drywall behind it and oooo this basement is double the size! or not. but at least we don't have AS MUCH bare framing.

we brought down the rocking chair that my mom's parents gave my parents when they had me, and also bina's little IKEA rocking chair. that will be our reading area next to the tent. since bina had a rather severe case of hives a week ago (allergic reaction to amoxicillin), we gave her one of her christmas presents early: the cozy coupe sport (20 minute assembly my butt, says my husband). bina loves that thing. she does chinese fire drills in it for like 30 minutes. we haven't figured out the whole flintstones move the car with your feet yet. but boy does she like getting in and out of it and sticking things in the trunk. cutie.

so we finally finished everything and it's december 17. we met our goal of having it complete by christmas. for once our project is done ahead of schedule! and now i'm excited to play down there with bina all winter long. with coats on, because it's an icebox. but it sure is a cute and happy ice box!

so now lets reflect.


and after:


and after:

yay for bina's playroom paradise!

hello there.

brittain here. just sharing my journey day to day with lots of laughs along the way.

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