When we bought our house two years ago, we were thrilled to finally have a basement! Ours is a pretty decent size, and, though it is “unfinished”, it’s got some potential to be better, for sure. Cement floor, cinderblock walls, decent height and, knock-wood, no moisture issues, so that’s good. But the house was built in 1946, and the basement shows it. In addition to our utilities (fortunately, all much more modern than 1946!) we have a fireplace (which we don’t intend to use), and the original laundry tub from when the house was built.
We’ve done a little to the basement to make it functional, including a workout area (“The Pain Cave”) and put storage and shelving throughout one long wall (I’ll post about that in a future entry). But the corner by the laundry sink was depressing and underutilized. The sink and the whole area was covered with paint splatters, and the cabinet (repurposed from the original kitchen, I’m guessing) provides some potential storage and a workspace, but we’re honestly just not using it. My husband and I both just find that part of the basement unpleasant, and as a result, we’re not making the most of it. Sometimes, making a space more attractive just makes it easier and more inviting to use to its fullest potential, even when you’re talking about basement storage.
I announced to my husband yesterday morning (that’s right) that I had a project I was going to take on this weekend, and that I didn’t need his help, so he could go on his bike ride and not worry about me. (Which probably made him worry even more). I told him my intentions: to make over that area and make it more pleasant. I asked him to come help go through some old paint to see what we might reuse, and then I was off!
First, the Before:
How about a close up?
I know; Blech.
Paint the cabinet white, helping to brighten up the whole corner
Paint the wood frame around the laundry sink a different, light color (we chose a pale blue)
Change the look of the counter top of the cabinet
Make the inside of the cabinet more functional
Figure out how to make the laundry sink look better, given all the paint it has collected over the decades
First, I had to start with cleaning. I’m pretty sure I collected cobwebs from under that sink that dated back to the Johnson Administration. And the cinderblock walls seem to just ooze dust all over the place, so I brushed those down, too. And there were a lot of Clorox wipes that met their death valiantly. In general, I gave our awesome shop-vac a run for its money!
For the most part, I thought this would be a pretty straightforward project. However, the sink rim project was a bit of a challenge. First of all, it was kind of unclear if this sink was a soapstone laundry sink or a cement one. I’m *pretty* sure it’s soapstone, based on the look and feel (unfortunately, the bottom of the sink was set on a reinforced cement platform, so I couldn’t see if the seal of the soapstone manufacturer was present. I’d consulted with my parents (who, in addition to their vast knowledge and experience, each grew up in houses that were this age, so I thought they might have some real guidance from their own homes) and they suggested I try sanding off the paint. Seemed like a good idea, and I was sure to wear a mask, since the chance that some lead paint would be in the mix was high. I was SHOCKED at how well the sink top responded to the sanding! The inside and outside walls, less so, but to be fair, I was probably not using the best sandpaper grit for the job.
Close up of the rim from the top, before and afters:
Honestly, nothing was too difficult a task when it came to the painting. I’ve painted a fair amount, so none of this was outside my skill set. I sanded, primed twice, and painted. I cleaned up the hardware for the cabinet a bit, to get a better shine on the cabinet itself. I even touched up the wall where there had been some dark pink stains, just freshen up the space.
Finally, I wanted to change up the linoleum look on the cabinet top. It was stained and dated. I’d picked up some 18″ x 18″ peel and stick vinyl tiles to use for the top and for the inside bottom of the cabinets, and they worked perfectly. My husband helped me with fitting some of the smaller gaps in the back (because the counter top was 18.25″, of course!) and then he reattached the hinged doors for me. Here’s the before and after surfaces:
Finally, he remembered that we had a leftover white shelf from a closet renovation, and he cut it to size so we could have a shelf half way up on one side of the cabinet, and still allow for tall things on the other side.
Here it is, pulled all together:
We can’t get over how much of a difference it makes this part of the basement feels, and I am confident we are going to start using that cabinet and workspace very differently from now on! Every square foot of your house can have value if you make the most of it, and I’m happy to continue to make strides in our home all the time!