basement progress: done(ish)


Has it really been over two weeks since I last posted? All is well in the Zerbey household but we have been busy enjoying Miss Avery (which I like to say with a southern drawl) and showing her off to various friends and family members. We also celebrated Kyle’s 34th birthday! The day was way more low-key than last year, but we did go out to breakfast and I managed to sneak off and pick up a small ice cream cake to celebrate that evening.

My mom was also in town to help out last week and in our ridiculous DIY fashion, we finished the basement just hours before her flight arrived. Finished being a relative term of course. Fortunately, our newborn was very amenable to the last-minute construction (I think we have our in utero remodeling to thank for that) and slept peacefully through the chaos.

But enough chit-chat, come on downstairs!

[Need a reminder of how scary the basement was when we moved in? Oh the shame.]

Our first week at home found us balancing the basement project with caring for a newborn, so there are virtually no progress photos. But to be honest, the tasks weren’t that glamorous – painting, trim, electrical, carpet tiles…been there, done that. Yawn.

So let’s just jump straight to the pretty pictures, ok? The week before our family expanded, Kyle and I went to IKEA to scope out sleeper sofas. After trying out every one they had (which was probably pretty comical at 9 months pregnant), we decided on the Manstad. (Or as my sister calls it, the Transformer Couch.)

It comes in a beige or blue-gray color, but we went with the latter because you can never have enough blue-gray in your life. Also, we thought it would show less wear than boring beige. [As we shared in this post from way back in January, the plan is to eventually add a storage/media unit along the blank wall in the photo above.]

The design for this sofa is quite different from the other IKEA options. Unlike most sofas that fold out along the long side to create the bed, the Manstad has a hidden piece under the main portion of the sofa that pulls out to effectively “fill in” the shape formed by the chaise. Like this:

For us, we liked that the sofa configuration had a chaise (which can go on either side) and that the bed was elevated and not close to the floor like many of the other models. The only downside (and this applies to most IKEA sofa sleepers) is that it wasn’t terribly comfortable. After going back and forth (literally) between the sofa and bed departments, we decided that the best solution would be to buy the sleeper sofa and a memory foam topper to provide a little extra cushion. (Annoyingly, IKEA sofa beds are somewhere between a full and queen in width, so the queen size topper hangs over one side by a couple of inches.)

The topper is light enough to move easily and when not in use we’ll just roll it up and store it in the adjacent closet. The memory foam (which is only a few inches thick) does make a big difference and got the seal of approval from my mom.

Another nice feature is that the chaise cushion pops up to provide extra storage space for linens or the sofa cushions depending on what configuration it’s in.

Sofa. Bed. We love how easy it is to go from one to the other, without one of those weird metal frames to wrestle with or awkwardly folded futon mattress.

With a low ceiling height, we were limited to wall-mounted sconces or recessed cans for the room’s lighting. We placed three cans along one end for general/task lighting, with the idea that this is where people will be sitting our laying down. The two sconces are on the opposite end and will flank what will eventually be a built-in media/storage unit. Finding well-designed yet affordable lighting fixtures has always been a challenge for us and Kyle must have gone through dozens of options for this space. Finally, he found these sconces, which cost about $120 each (with our trade discount) from our local retailer, Lighting Supply. They have a nice diffuse light and are appropriately sized for the space. We also ordered dimmable CFLs because you know how Kyle likes his dimmers.

The two windows still need a proper shade (we got classy with some cardboard for my mom) and we’re currently pricing out different options. We plan on installing some type of blackout shade for optimal movie watching and daytime napping. [Side note: this space is significantly cooler than the main floor, which has been a well-timed blessing during our “heat wave” this week.]

To make the space feel as bright and airy as possible, we stuck with our go-to paint color (“super white” by Benjamin Moore), but decided to mix it up for the doors. We had some leftover paint from our sliding barn doors upstairs, so we painted the future bathroom door the same “Thunderbird” as the other bathroom and the bedroom door the same “Lakeside Cabin” as the nursery. Or so we thought. About halfway through painting the sliding door (which was a real chore since it had to be done in place) Kyle realized that it was actually a completely different color (“Spellbound”, to be exact). Neither of us could really remember, but I guess we bought it as a contender for the upstairs doors. After about 2 minutes of discussion, we decided that we liked it and that it didn’t matter if it matched the other doors.

This project has really honed our ability to make quick design decisions.

The carpet tiles are Flor and from the “Flats and Cords” line (though it looks like they no longer have the same neutral brown color, which was on sale when we bought it). This was another decision that was made quickly and without a lot of discussion – basically we picked the least expensive tile that was rated for at least medium traffic (but was still comfortable for bare feet) and in a neutral color that could work for the room as it evolves over time. So far, so good.

For the swinging door hardware, we stuck with our favorite Stuttgart levers from Emtek. We’ve been very happy with our exterior door levers and Emtek is really reasonably priced (we bought ours locally through Frank Lumber, but they are also available from The Hardware Hut).

For the threshold between the bedroom and hallway, Kyle cut a piece of 5/4 vertical grain fir to fit. (It’s bare wood in these photos but is now in the process of being finished.) At the doorway to the laundry room, we hung a temporary curtain for the time being. We’re still deciding whether we’ll eventually want a swinging door between the two spaces or just a simple framed opening.

Even though the bathroom door is done, the space beyond is definitely not. Phase two.

The small closet between is currently holding insulation for the other half of the basement and the shop vac. It’s so exciting having a closet. I spent at least 38 seconds opening and closing the door just for the hell of it.

The other half of the basement got a little love too. After misplacing a bag of electrical supplies and spending a good hour searching for them, we decided it was time to organize and clean up the disaster zone on the other side of the curtain.

It felt so good to be able to see the floor and the top of the counter again. Although we’ll eventually paint the concrete floor in the laundry area, for now we just put down an IKEA sisal rug that we already owned…which means no more putting on shoes to do laundry. Yay!

Sadly, we never did find the missing electrical supplies.

Of course, there are still lots of little details to be completed, but at least the bedroom/den space is functional. In addition to window shades, we need to figure out and install a custom storage/media cabinet. We might also add a lounge chair opposite of the sofa and maybe move the coffee table down there. The end goal is to create a space that can work both as a place to hang out and watch movies as well as a guest or kid’s bedroom.

With the framework complete, it’s now time for the fun part. After we finish the bathroom and laundry room that is. Is it time to make a 2013 to-do list yet?


49 Responses to “basement progress: done(ish)”

  1. Marie says:

    Love the new photos of the basement! I am shopping for new interior doors. Can you tell me the brand/source you used for the slab doors in the basement?

    • kzerbey says:

      Hi Marie, we bought our doors from Franks Lumber “the door store” near seattle. We ordered pre-primed with birch which was the most affordable option since we were going to paint them anyways. thanks.

  2. Reuben says:

    It looks great. The whole space has a very modern euro feel to it.

  3. katie says:

    wow, impressive work! the sofa looks like the perfect solution, although strange about the full/queen size. i like the door colors πŸ™‚

  4. suzanne says:

    Love it! Is this the sofa from ikea that I have heard Robyn talk about at least once a year for the past six or seven years? Gav, holly and I definitely need to visit! Don’t worry, not any time soon though πŸ™‚

    • Robyn says:

      Yes! It is!! I love that couch and WILL own it…someday!

    • chezerbey says:

      Haha, yes! She actually called me when we were on our way to IKEA and told us to check it out (we thought we’d get something different going into it).

      You guys definitely need to plan a trip out here sometime. Holly and Avery can have a cousins slumber party!

  5. Wow, you guys, it looks amazing!!! As always, beyond impressed.

  6. Paula says:

    I’ve been following the progress on this project and was really looking forward to this reveal. What you two can do is so impressive! Not just skill but energy-wise too.

    And BTW I have been coveting that couch for years. We have a bedroom in our basement so I went for a regular couch but sometimes I wish I had just bit the bullet and bought this one. Is it comfortable to sleep on as well as being groovy?

    • chezerbey says:

      I don’t think it would be that comfortable without the topper (mainly because you can sorta feel the joints between the different cushions) but with the topper it feels like a regular bed.

  7. Jacqui Bennetts says:

    Yay it looks fantastic, what a fabulous transformation. I do wonder what will happen when you get it all finished…….can you guys relax?

  8. Jacqui Bennetts says:

    I have been saving this media wall idea for my new house I really like that it has a sliding drawer for the turntable (I got my Technics when I worked in a record shop at age 18 and the lid is long gone) any way I think this is cool.

  9. vivian says:

    Love it so far! The laundry area does look so welcoming now =) We also have an old 1912 unfinished basement β€” fieldstone foundation, even β€” and I do put flip flops on to go down there because there’s bits of dust and dirt and rock and I have no idea what else on the floor. Why did I never think to put down a rug?!

    I have a question about the CFL dimmers: Have you used them before? Do they actually dim well? And if so, what brand are you using? (I guess that was 3 questions.) Ours don’t dim very much, and we can’t leave the dimmer on low when we turn the lights off because they won’t come back on when we flip the switch; they only seem to get enough power to turn on when at full brightness. So we have to turn them on at full brightness and THEN push down the dimmer. Not very functional.

    • kzerbey says:

      Hi vivian, I’ll answer this one;) we tried dimmable CFL’s about 4 years ago and it didn’t work at all. I think it’s too soon to tell on these. I worked with the people at lighting supply in seattle to come up with a compatible pair. Lutron has approved dimmable bulbs on their website to work with their CFL and LED dimmers. We used the Lutron Diva, which has an adjustable dial to fix your problem of the lights not coming on at all. The dial sets the amount of power sent to the CFL when the dimmer is engaged, it basically sets the bottom end of the dimmable range.

      • vivian says:

        Aha, I had seen special CFL dimmers at Lowe’s recently and wondered about that. That page is super useful; thank you!! We’re not nearly as DIY-brave as you guys (although seeing what you’ve been able to do is inspiring and encouraging), but we can manage to swap a light switch =)

  10. shashakidd says:

    That looks fabulous. I can’t believe how clear the ceiling of your basement is. Our 100-year-old basement ceiling is loaded with wires, ductwork, abandoned pipes, etc. It’s hard to make sense of it all. Did you guys move all the utilities out of the space? Our is your basement ceiling just the neatest one ever?

    • chezerbey says:

      Haha, no…it was your typical basement. But we knew early on that we’d probably be exposing the ceiling to make the room feel taller so as we redid the electrical/plumbing/ductwork we made sure to keep it out of that room’s ceiling. Also, there is drywall in between the joists which is hiding one small duct and some unavoidable wiring.

  11. Paula says:

    Well duh, I missed the part where you mentioned needing the pillow top for the couch :/. Whoops.

    I used a foam pad on my futon in a bachelor apartment for a year before I broke down and squeezed a bed in there. I’m sure your guests will have many good sleeps :).

  12. Furpants says:

    You 2 have superhuman DIY powers! I am in awe.

  13. Briony says:

    Wow, the Manstad looks like a great option! How is it as a sofa? Would you use it as your main sofa?

    • chezerbey says:

      It’s not bad…we haven’t really “broken” it in yet but we’ll be sure to do an update down the road. It definitely seems more firm than other options.

  14. Dusa says:

    I totally heard “Miz Av-reh” when you mentioned a Southern drawl. Howsabout window film ala Benita:

  15. Wow, looks great! I’ve been waiting to see how that ceiling turned out. Did you tape the joints between the joists and the drywall and also mud the joists? It all looks very smooth. I haven’t rewired the first floor yet so I can still move all the wires around to make room I think. Our ceiling height is 7’6″ so it may be nice to get a little more airy feel. Opening up the joists like that is a really good idea.

    • kzerbey says:

      thanks brian, yes taped joints from drywall to ceiling joists, then I also came back and caulked them before paint πŸ˜‰ I used some synko spackle on the joists to clean them up a bit. They were in pretty rough shape.

  16. Chris says:

    OMG. I can’t believe I’m the first one to wonder why there is no “progress” photo of Miss Avery! Lounging on the sofa, perhaps? πŸ˜‰

    P.S. Basement – super love.

    • chezerbey says:

      Haha, I think she was napping when I took the photos…but good point! (Actually, I do occasionally post photos of her and Bailey on my Instagram and Twitter accounts.)

  17. Evie Jespersen says:

    Looks awesome! I’m totally impressed with how much you were able to do with that small space. The ceiling looks awesome… putting that in my brainstorming for our basement reno. It all feels really cohesive with your house.

  18. Lisa says:

    Wow! I really love the story telling of your posts. It’s such a pleasure to follow your progress with your home and now with your beautiful daughter. You are inspiring. For the windows, jcpenney has blackout roller shades up to 73.25″ wide. Good luck!

  19. mtadams1208 says:

    I love this basement!!! who knew you could get that out of what existed before? not me. In a perfect world with limitless amounts of time and money it would be so fun to watch you guys take a whole street of old, run down smaller homes and create some new modern and useable spaces. AH! if only. I really love that couch, too. I cannot seem to get away from Ikea. They always manageable to make functional and affordable stuff that has a clean, modern design that can blend into any decor. Great job!

  20. Katja says:

    …an other great step forward! Now I am looking forward to the fun part pics – and maybe some news about your little girl.

    Am I wrong or is that little yellow step stool sneaking its way around the house just to get into as many pictures as possible? …and trying to catch up with Bailey?

    I have one design related question that comes to my mind every time I see an exterior photo of your house:
    The white frames around the windows seem to be a little wider on top than on the sides and bottom. Is that so for technical reasons or was it an aesthetical decision or is it a reference to the original design? ..or is there no deeper thought behind that…

    As a trained industrial designer by heart, details like that just catch my eye…

    (I hope you know what I mean. If I write with an “accent” – its because I am not a native speaker.)

    • chezerbey says:

      Hi Katja, no accent detected;) to answer your question about the trim, it is actually very close to what our original trim detail was like. Also for some of the windows that we simply replaced, instead of changing the size” if we didn’t replicate the same trim dimensions then we would have needed to re-do a lot more of the siding which would have been a lot of extra work. In general we made a decision to keep the exterior of the home more to its original look while going modern on the interior. Part of this was due to the fact that we had a limited budget and could save money and a bit of the environment by working with the existing exterior as opposed to starting over with all of the siding;) we’ll get some avery pics on here soon!

      • Katja says:

        Thank you for your answer!
        I was not aware, that the trim represents the original design of the house or even a traditional design in general. (To me it could have been a design decision you’ve made, but it somehow to me feels and looks different from what I think would be your personal style…therefore my question. I hope that does not sound to assumptive and you know what I mean?!)

        • kzerbey says:

          yes I know what you mean, you’re totally right, it’s not a detail we would design for a new house that would be built from scratch but it made sense for this remodel. If I have one thing to do differently it would be to update to a more modern exterior, it just wasn’t in our budget so we compromised to save money and instead went with more of a restoration instead of tearing it all off and starting over.

  21. Mariane says:

    Wow this is looking good! I really love the design of the ceilling going into a shelf around two walls. ( I have a really hard time explaining what I mean in Englis here, sorry!) It’s like a ribbon that goes around. It tottally shows that you’re architects in this beautifull detailled design. Also, I add my voice to Avery fans, let see your precious cargo!
    Have a great week!

  22. Love the Stuttgart levers you used for the remodel! They go nicely with the clean aesthetic of your design. We’re actually running a contest on our Facebook page right now. If you send in the photo of the Stuttgart levers to, you enter the contest to win a free EMTouch electronic lock. Your photo would be posted on our FB page – most likes wins. Entry deadline is 8/24/2012, so if you’re interested, send in soon!
    — Susan

  23. lizzybnb says:

    I love the sofa bed. I am a huge fan of sectional style sofas too so I just died when I saw yours!

  24. Joe says:

    I working on a similar project. Chezerby has been a great source of inspiration. I was wondering if the sheet rock on the ceiling helps with sound transfer from above?

    • Lauren says:

      Hi Joe, I think the sheetrock does help a bit as a sound absorber. Kyle also added insulation in the areas where the sheetrock was installed to the underside of the joists so that helps a bit too.

  25. Sara says:

    wow! what a wonderful home!

  26. Jeni says:

    Your basement looks great!! I found your blog from pinterest. I really like the clean and simple hand rail and hardware you used. What did you use? We ripped out our rickety hand rail to our basement and haven’t replaced it yet. We have been trying to find (but haven’t spent too much time looking for) a clean and simple solution.


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  1. […] good start but with a baby on the way we suddenly found ourselves creating a nursery, finishing the basement (albeit partially) and revamping our front yard. […]

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