I turned our kids’ basement hang out into a mom cave! When we bought our house, it was a new home without much character and the bare minimum in finishes. We made our offer and negotiated to have them finish out the basement and add a small bath. Knowing we would be doing a DIY basement update, we chose the least expensive options.
This basement is an awkward shape. When you come down the stairs you turn right to the small bathroom (see the bath update on instagram and below), or go straight and see a blank wall (which I turned into an office) below.
To the left, you will find a verrrrry long room. We had it set up on both sides like two living rooms for the boys to play video games. I knew I wanted to redo them but what I thought was going to be a teen hangout turned into a mom cave!
I was inspired by my tea kettle’s gorgeous blue hue. It was a sign that this room would be for me!
First I took a pic of the dungeon and marked it up. (Do you like my professional rendering??)
I wanted some storage and shelving, and thought floating shelves and a drink cooler would be great. I almost built everything from scratch using plywood but quickly changed my mind. Why reinvent the wheel when I can do an IKEA hack? More on that later.
Brighten Things Up
The first step was paining the room white. That made a huge difference. I used Snowcap White in the eggshell finish by Valspar Reserve- a good contrast to the black wall in the office. Sometimes you go with the lack of natural light and opt not to fight it, like I did in the office. And other times you do your best to enhance the light! There is one small window, so I kept it light and airy. I also knew I was painting the cabinets dark blue, which was a factor.
Next, I moved onto cabinets. I purchased some Havsta IKEA cabinets with the intention of painting them and adding a butcher block countertop. I assembled the base of the cabinets and left the doors off to paint separately. The tops would go unused due to the butcher block countertop. The Valspar furniture and cabinet paint says you don’t need to sand or prime, but I HIGHLY recommend that you do on these particular cabinets.
I started to paint directly onto the IKEA cabinet doors, thinking the existing paint was like a primer. It wasn’t, plus the grain on the wood was really pronounced.
That said, I sanded for forever, used a tack cloth to remove the dust, and the paint turned out perfect. I love this paint. It takes a loooooong time to dry since it is an oil blend, but it settles so beautifully that it looks like you used a sprayer.
I used a roller and brush to apply a thin coat, then brushed the corners, and rolled once more to smooth it out. I waited 24 hours before applying the second coat, and another 24 hours before handling. While the doors were drying, I painted the base and then started on the countertops. The color is Valspar Pitch Cobalt and the finish is satin in the Cabinet and Furniture paint.
The cabinets were about 18 inches deep and the butcher block countertop was about 30 inches wide. I cut it down to 24 inches using a jig saw. Big mistake! After bending the blade and the saw going rogue, (see my highlights) it dawned on me that I had a circular saw sitting in the garage! Don’t ask me how one forgets they have a whole circular saw, lol!
So, I tried again with the circular saw. This time it turned out perfectly. I was using two countertops for length, so I repeated the process. (If you don’t have a table saw, use a piece of trim as a straight edge).
Staining Wood to Remove Yellow
I like to work with raw wood, but for this project I decided to stain to remove some of the yellow. I sanded with 220 grit sandpaper and used tack cloth to remove all dust. Then I mixed Minwax Silvered Oak with a splash of Simply White to get the perfect color, taking out the yellow. This is all about trial and error so you will need to have a piece of wood to practice on. I probably tried about 6 times to get the perfect color, then stained and let dry. We used these inexpensive countertops.
While the countertop was drying I applied the same stain mixture to the wood for the floating shelves. For these I chose 2 x 12 pine. In hindsight, I would have chosen something lighter. These were 8 foot long solid pine boards- the weight was no joke!
When they were dry, I assembled the cabinets. I added beautiful gold Rejuvenation hardware. It is spendy, but justifiable if it’s only a few doors. It really elevates the look of the cabinets and makes them look higher-end. Mine were leftover from a previous project.
Joining the Countertop
For joining the countertop, I had no idea what I was doing. I’m not a woodworker, but I decided I would use dowels left over from the IKEA cabinets to join the them together. If it were for a kitchen or bathroom I would have added pocket holes for a tighter fit. (Here’s a video from a real pro on how to properly join the countertops.)
I marked and drilled holes into the counter top for the dowels and dry fit them. It fit! Then I added wood glue to connect it. There was a small gap so I filled it with wood filler, sanded, and added a quick wash of stain over the seam. I used the wrong color wood filler so I will go back and fix that soon. I opted to leave the countertop without sealing, since there will be no water source anywhere near it. Finally, you’ll want to attach the countertop from the inside top of the cabinet using L brackets. Now onto the shelves.
We used these brackets from Amazon. I found and marked the studs on the wall. Using the studs as a guide, I measured where the holes would be on the wood and we used a drill bit to carve them out. Finally, we attached the brackets to the wall and pushed the wood onto the brackets. We had to pull it off and try again, as one hole was slightly off. We drilled a larger hole and it worked out great!
To finish the look, I added a few decorative items to the shelf, moved our sofa and ottoman from the other side of the basement and popped in a rug from Target. I love the way it turned out! It might be my favorite project to date!
What do you think??
Thanks for being here, and be sure to follow me on instagram and subscribe below so you never miss a thing!