We started working on our unfinished basement makeover about two months ago and I still cannot get over the transformation! Last year we decided to put our large basement to good use when the country went into quarantine and the kids needed a space to run wild.
The concept of a basement playroom was quickly proven and Chris and I got started scheming about how we could update the space without spending a ton of money. Here were the areas I wanted to address:
- Hiding mechanicals
- Update lighting (originally all pull-string bulbs)
- Clean dirt and dust
- Paint the basement from the floor to the ceiling
- Create designated areas for activities
- Organized toy storage
We decided to break the basement up into four “zones” – the TV zone, utility room/storage zone, ping pong/toy zone, and the workout zone. By creating these zones and addressing the problem areas bulleted above, our unfinished basement has a completely new look!
Here is another look at the unfinished basement before:
And that same view after!
Let’s dive into more detail on all of these budget-friendly updates.
How We Updated Our Unfinished Basement
1 | Added a Utility Room
We installed two walls to hide the electrical panels, HVAC, and waste pipe. This had the biggest impact on making the lower level feel more finished. As a bonus, this new room had so much space left over for storage!
All of our basement walls are concrete, so with two studded walls now available, we took advantage and added outlets. We installed outlets for two hanging TVs and lower outlets.
When sketching out our plans, I included a closet to hide the toys!
2 | Spray the Exposed Basement Ceiling
While the electricians were in the basement installing outlets, they also installed and wired can lights. Because our basement is unfinished, the “guts” of the house are not neatly tucked away in between joists. We decided to paint the ceiling black for a modern, industrial look instead of a drop ceiling or drywall.
It took me two days to paint the entire ceiling and while the act of spraying the paint is rather simple, spending 10-12 hours working on this project was really taxing on my body. It was definitely worth it and I would do it again, but maybe take more time or add another body to complete the project.
For more details on this project, check out the full tutorial on how to spray paint an exposed basement ceiling.
3 | Paint the Walls
I have a bunch of untinted satin paint in our storage and decided to use the straight white color on the walls. A fresh coat of paint achieved the clean look I was going for in this basement.
Check out my list of my go-to neutral paint colors and favorite painting tools.
The basement already looks 100% better with the painted ceiling and walls. Next up, painting the floors!
4 | Paint the Floors
I decided to use Rust-Oleum’s Epoxyshield Garage Floor Coating because of its durability and clean finish. If this paint can handle a car and dropping tools, it can handle my wild kiddos!
The most time-consuming (and most important) part of the floor project was prepping the floors for paint. I spent about a week scrubbing the floors with a cleaning solution and etching material to ensure the paint would adhere properly.
Beautiful and affordable unfinished basement makeover | Building Bluebird
Because I used this product in the basement, I had to vacuum up all of the dirty water, carry it upstairs, and dump it outside. While vacuuming the floors over and over, I would daydream about how easy it would be to just spray everything out into the driveway if I were painting the garage.
When it was time to paint the floors, it felt like a breeze! The Epoxyshield product only requires one coat of paint and I was finished in a day.
Paint is so powerful! The basement is so clean and ready for furniture and toys.
Unfinished Basement Before and After
Zone 1 | TV Area
Before, our unfinished basement was only used for storage.
Now this area of the basement is the main hangout for our kids to watch TV and play video games. This couch was our first “big” furniture purchase as a couple and it is still in such great shape after 10 years. We had to tear up our basement stairs to get it down here but it was worth it, ha!
I added a hanging tapestry to the back wall for some added warmth. I was able to add a nail to the ceiling joists to hang the fabric since I could not nail it into the concrete walls.
We added a pocket door into the mechanical room that is large enough to fit a furnace if it ever needs to be replaced. All of the furniture that we put into this basement, we already owned. The coffee table was a Goodwill purchase for our first home and it is light enough for the kids to be able to move it when they want to play Just Dance.
I pulled the round table that didn’t quite feel right in our living room and it is perfect as the arts and crafts table. The chairs are from our old kitchen table from our first house.
Zone 2 | Work Out Area
We got a Peloton once quarantine began and set it up in the unfinished basement. Here was the original workout area in our basement.
With this basement makeover, I was so excited to create a designated workout area for us. Here is the new workout area before the makeover:
And that same corner after:
We hung the TV we already owned on the new wall we built for the utility room and, again, used the items we already owned to finished out the space. The hanging mirrors came from the old wet bar in the kitchen. when we renovated the kitchen, I decided to save the mirrors with the hopes that we could reuse them eventually.
The kids love the hanging rope! At the top of the rope, there is a bell and two handles for the kids to ring and hold onto if they make it to the top.
Zone 3 | Ping Pong / Toy Area
During quarantine, my in-laws gave us their old ping pong table and it was one more activity we enjoyed while staying at home! Here is what it looked like before we started the makeover:
And that same view after:
Sifting through all of my storage items, I found this old mirror and hanging basket to add as decor to the updated basement. Previously, we were using an old gift bag to hold all of our ping pong balls, so this basket is a major upgrade.
Our friend built this toy storage cubby about 5 years ago when we were living in Denver. It fits perfectly in this corner of the basement.
My daughter has spent a lot of time in this little tent having tea parties with her princesses.
Zone 4 | Utility Room / Storage Room
I will be honest, I still have some work to do in the storage room. The beauty of a hidden storage room is that it is hidden! Behind that sliding door is a ton of crap that needs to be organized. I plan on writing up a blog post on the utility room once I get it all organized, but for now, you get to see the door!
Thank you so much for checking out our unfinished basement makeover. This space took a lot of sweat equity to get to this place but it was totally worth it. If you have any questions about the materials used in the basement, please reach out and I will do my best to answer them.
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Monday 3rd of October 2022
Beautiful! We just bought a home that we are completely doing from top to bottom. The house is 80's decor. Eek! Our basement is 1800 sq ft and completely unfinished. We were wondering how the walls and ceiling would look painted and this just convinced us it's well worth it. We are wanting to add a bedroom and half bath in an area but that will be a project for the future. Thank you for the great information!
Tuesday 4th of October 2022
I am so excited for you to tackle this project, it is so worth it!
Wednesday 27th of April 2022
Looks awesome! We are thinking of doing the same and my biggest concern is how cold it is in the basement in the winter (we live in the northeast). I'm worried that without adding insulation to the walls and floor, the temp may make it too unpleasant for the kids to want to be down there.... Do you have any thoughts about this? I guess we could just put a space heater down there?
Wednesday 27th of April 2022
We have two vents in the basement and the temperature is just fine. It is a little colder than our main level, but the kids don't seem to mind. I think the option of adding a space heater is the perfect solution.
Friday 18th of March 2022
Looks great! Currently working on ours! Do u love the can lights that were installed? The lighting bright enough?
Monday 21st of March 2022
Thank you! Yes the can lights provide plenty of light! We added dimmers as well to allow for mood lighting with movies and such.
Thursday 24th of February 2022
Love the lighter floors! I’m getting ready to paint mine and am wondering what color you used? Also, where did you get the floor product?
Friday 25th of February 2022
Thank you so much! I purchased a product called Rust-Oleum Garage Floor Coating from Home Depot. The kit provides color options and I chose the color called "new concrete". I have a full tutorial of this DIY on the blog as well if you would like to check it out! https://buildingbluebird.com/how-to-paint-concrete-basement-floors-using-epoxyshield/
Saturday 15th of January 2022
This looks fantastic. I'm curious how high your ceilings are. We are finishing our basement and going back and forth on how to finish the low ceiling.
Sunday 16th of January 2022
Most of the basement is probably close to 8 feet but the section where we have our workout area has a bunch of mechanicals hanging down lower. The black definitely makes all of the vents and pipes disappear a bit and feel more seamless with the rest of the ceiling in the basement.