Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Basement Renovations

Our basement renovations were largely complete at the end of November but I have been holding off on the blogpost until our furniture arrived so that we could have a ‘done’ picture to round it off.  Well, some of the furniture arrived yesterday and with a lack of good walks due to our days of torrential rain this week I figured I could make a post out of what we have.

In essence the original layout of our above-ground basement was a reasonable size rectangular ‘recreation room’(Canada)/’living room’ (UK) / ‘bonus room’ (US) with a wood-burning fireplace, an almost as large (and hence oversized) laundry which was probably largely untouched since the house was constructed in the 1970’s and a small square inner hall giving access to the laundry, furnace room and our rental suite.

We decided to halve the size of the laundry while renovating it to make the best use of the smaller space, then give the remaining half of the old laundry space to the ‘rec room’ to make it ‘L’ shaped while turning this new larger space into a more dedicated media room for watching TV, movies, listening to music, reading etc. We also decided to remove the inner hall as this was really wasted space and give the floor area to the new laundry.

In our 5.5 years living in this house we have not really used the rec room, merely dumped unwanted boxes and furniture in there and just ran back and forth to the washer and dryer in the laundry.  We wanted to reclaim the 500 or so sqft and turn it into living space we wish to use and enjoy.

This was our rec room before we started the renovations.  Particular features of note are the stained and damaged laminate flooring, plastic panelled walls and redundant boxing above the window.



This angle shows the section of wall into the laundry which will be removed to make the new rec room ‘L’ shaped. We were kind of committed to the job once our contractor had punched a hole in the plastic panelling to see what the framing was like inside !


The laundry was large, but badly planned and very scruffy.



IMG_5944 The nasty single-glazed metal windows which are draughty and do nothing for insulation will be going too.


With the help of a big orange bin our contractor got to work removing panelling and cabinetry.


The walls get stripped of their panelling in the rec room.



The suspended ceiling is removed from the laundry.


The ugly green closets are gone too…


Soon the wall between the rec room and half of the laundry is removed.



We had laughed when we first bought this house in Vancouver that it felt vaguely like living in a huge garden shed, by comparison to our last home in the UK which was built in the 1800’s and had 18'” thick solid stone walls.  The photo below is Queens Cottage, the home we owned for the previous 5 years in Oxfordshire. It was a lot better insulated than our current 1970’s house, but there was no opportunity to change the layout and jobs like rewiring were hugely challenging with the solid walls.


New walls spring up even more easily than the old ones coming down.  This is the new partition to create the new laundry and ‘L’ section of the rec room.


The next job is the framing for the new smooth ceiling.  We’ve said goodbye to ceiling tiles forever !

IMG_5986 The next jobs to be completed were personal upgrades we chose for our particular usage of the new rec room as a media room. One job was to increase the insulation.  Not only was there minimal heat insulation but we were concerned about noise transference from our media room to our vacation rental suite on the same floor.  So we had fire-resistant sound insulation installed throughout the new media room.  Mojo is quite sure he could have some fun making a mess with this stuff…..if he could only get the packaging open.

IMG_6054We wanted to have the surround-sound pre-wired and some additional power outlets both in the rec room and the laundry.  It was quicker and easier for our electrician to just re-wire the basement area which was great as it removed the old aluminum wiring we had been living with.  The new power and speaker outlets are connected by ducts to make it easy to add and remove wiring in the future.


Next comes the drywall delivery.

Drywall delivery

The drywall (like plasterboard in the UK) is installed and then ‘taped’ over the joins. These joins then need a skim of plaster which is allowed to dry, sanded and another layer of plaster. This process is repeated a couple of times until the walls are smooth.



Here the wall has been removed from the old ‘inner hall’ giving a clear view through to the new laundry and new ceilings.

IMG_6078 IMG_6079

The new nook created off of the rec room with the additional window previously in the laundry now allowing more light into the rec room.

IMG_6080 Other work completed by our contractors over the 5-6 week period included replacement of both the windows in the rec room with new double pane vinyl windows.  We rediscover the view to the front of the house from the rec room.


While the side window lets in welcome light but still looks into our neighbours rental suite. When we get new blinds this will give more privacy in this section of the room.


We had new pot lights on dimmers installed throughout.


New speaker wiring outlets.


We had the pre-existing baseboard heater in the rec room replaced with a newer more efficient model and another new one added in the nook.


We also had all the 1970’s wood veneer doors replaced….

IMG_6719We also had the fireplace and chimney cleaned.  This doesn’t involve a guy with a big brush with a long handle like it does in the UK, here they send around a giant vacuum on a truck which they blast up the chimney stack.  The odd looking truck outside while they suck the debris from the chimney.


Yesterday we had our sofas delivered.  I hadn’t told David they were due for delivery so it was planned as a pleasant surprise for his return home from work on his first day back after New Years.  We had ordered a 3-seater sofa and a 2-seater (called a loveseat in Canada).  Unfortunately a bigger surprise of the furniture delivery was that the longer 3-seater sofa couldn’t get into the rec room !  It fits through the door into the room but needs to do this straight-on – the smallish hallway at the bottom of the stairs isn’t long enough for it to approach the door straight.  The smaller 2-seat sofa went in fine.

So, the bigger sofa has gone back to the store and we now have to wait 5 weeks or so for another 2-seater to be made and delivered which we will have as a compromise. We might also buy a different, more upright armchair for the room too.

Our new media room is sufficiently finished that we can enjoy it now.  With one sofa in place, our fantastic 70” LED TV, a new blu-ray player and an updated cable TV system being installed on Sunday we can use this space while waiting and saving for the finishing touches.  Still on the shopping list for this room are side tables, footstools, blinds for the windows, cabinetry for the audio/cable equipment and no doubt a bunch of other things we haven’t thought of yet !


We love the new TV and are already enjoying the wood fire.  The new carpet flooring is cosy (we have wood & tile everywhere else in the house so it’s a real treat to come down to the soft floor) while the sound insulation works great – on our last changeover day we experimented by playing a movie loud on the TV with surround sound and went into the suite – it couldn’t be heard !

IMG_6698 The nook is going to become a very nice space to hangout.  We will be moving the cream coloured ‘grandads’ couch into here when we get the 2nd sofa delivered, we bought a vintage (1980’s) amplifier at the weekend which we will connect up to a turntable to play our old vinyl.  With the fireplace it will become a comfortable space to sit and read or listen to music.  When we next replace the PC we might bring the new computer down here also.


The new laundry has worked out very well too. The view here through the new opening with the door straight ahead which leads into the laundry of our rental suite.  We still need to install more attractive light fixtures, we just have basic bulbs right now but this is a job that can wait for now…


The laundry still retains a window, albeit looking out under the deck and we installed a new stainless steel laundry sink with storage under.


We have a whole wall of new cabinetry with a mix of cupboards and drawers and plenty of clothes-folding countertop.


There is a good amount of storage despite the smaller size of the laundry and it’s now a much nicer room to be in.  We have left an appliance space under the right hand end of the worktop where we hope to put in a wine-fridge at a later date.



We have been really pleased with the work carried out by our contractor and the end results of the job. We look forward to our visitors this year, watching movies in our media room with them and perhaps even doing their laundry !


Louise Ducote said...

Very nice! Having survived the addition of a bedroom and bath this year, y'all have both my sympathy and my compliments. Looks like a great place to hang out and watch a movie. P.S. Where's the dog bed?

David and Adrian said...

Thanks ! I think Mojo thinks the whole room is a dog bed because of the carpet, although I know once we get the second sofa delivered there will be competition for that. He doesn't get on the beds....but rightly (or most probably wrongly) sofas are fair game.