Kristi’s Budget-friendly Basement Hang-out Room

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably gathered that we’ve been out of town for the past week and a half. We just got back late Saturday night from a road trip to Washington, DC, where we did many things and saw many relatives. More on that later in the week!

This post was supposed to be one of the ones that went up while we were gone, but I kind of overestimated my ability to blog and vacation at the same time, so it’s coming to you now instead.

Kristi (and her husband, Ony, and their 4 kids) lives just down the road from us, in another boxy colonial. Her family moved into their new house a few months before we moved into ours (so just over two years ago); it’s a mid 80’s build like ours, and it was still sporting a very mid 80’s look. There was wallpaper in pretty much every room (including on at least one ceiling) and blue carpet throughout the first floor. They’ve made amazing progress bringing the house into the 21st century. They’re in the process of ripping up all the lovely blue carpet right now and putting in bamboo floors, as just one example, and they’re doing it all themselves. This probably won’t be the last post you see about Kristi’s house!

When I asked Kristi if I could come take pictures of her basement, she said, “my basement?” I think she was thinking that there are other parts of her house that are more polished and formal, and she’s right. But I love the basement because it’s such a functional, cozy space, and I love how they made it feel like a “real” finished basement without spending much money at all. She also protested that it wasn’t finished yet, but I was all, “sorry! I can’t wait any longer!” But I’ll tell you about future plans after I show you what they’ve done so far.

basement remodel 01

Here’s what you see when you come down the stairs. So remember this was just a basic, completely unfinished concrete basement before. Kristi and Ony made the plank wall with 1 by 4s from Lowe’s and a custom stain. Kristi says:

I made it by rusting nails in vinegar for a couple of weeks, until the vinegar looked really gross. Then I brewed really strong tea. I used whatever flavors I had- the blueberry made them smell good, lol.

I think I started out putting the vinegar on first and then the tea, but the kids were helping and the order got all mixed up. It did not seem to matter which way we did it.. it was an excellent kid project, actually. they love having their own paintbrushes, everything was non-toxic, and they couldn’t mess it up if they tried.

Different kinds of tea seemed to give different colors to the boards, which i thought was a nice effect. So some are reddish, some are grey. and some have both in one board. it really seemed to do what it wanted after you put it on. some of them turned colors right away, and some took a while. an hour later you’d have barnwood.

She adds that you have to make sure not to use galvanized nails, or they won’t rust. They painted all the trim turquoise, which looks fabulous with the reddish stain.

Closer look at the plank wall (and some Johnny Cash art :)):


Kristi is amazingly good at finding excellent deals. She stalked Craigslist until she found this big, real leather sectional:


(That’s workout equipment in the other half of the room in the background).

Kristi found this table and chairs at the thrift store already painted the right colors:


They also finished the concrete floor themselves with something called “concrete acid stain.” They cleaned the floor with Simple Green first then sprayed it on with a garden sprayer. The color is called English Red.


Kristi diy-ed that cow skull up there, too, a long time ago:


On the interior wall that was all concrete before, they did this cool textured wall treatment:


Isn’t it a great space?! And they did every single bit of it themselves so far. There’s no central heat or air down here, but basements around here tend to stay comfortably cool in summer, and a space heater does the trick on cold winter days.

Future plans for finishing up:

I know a lot of people like a drop ceiling in their basements. I personally think drop ceilings are so ugly, they make me want to cry… so i will probably insist on a drywalled ceiling, even though the access to pipes and stuff will be greatly diminished. We’ll probably do that next spring when finances permit.

And I plan to get someone else to tape and mud the drywall, someday! i was going to try it but I am just scared that it will look horrible.

And you know, there will eventually be doors on the curtained openings.


Budget-friendly basement hang out room w/ lots of DIY Projects like this plank wall



Kristi’s Budget-friendly Basement Hang-out Room — 24 Comments

  1. What a wonderful space. I think Kristi might be a blogger in disguise 🙂 I loved the diy’ed skull and that stained planked wall. So lovely 🙂 Now we kinda need to see the rest of the house, don’t we 🙂

  2. AHHHHH this just rocks! I love everything about it! And seriously…after we have gotten water in the basement I think this is a great option for flooring! And the walls are outstanding! Happy week to you friend! Nicole xo

    • Isn’t it lovely! And, yes, definitely good to have floors that can take a beating (or a soaking) in the basement!

  3. hahaha, I totally missed that you had posted this! Thanks everyone for the kind comments, I appreciate it so much. We use it every day and really enjoy it, as opposed to the unfinished state, when everyone was totally creeped out by it.

    • ha–I thought you were just feeling shy :). That’s really a missed opportunity…I should have called the post “Kristi’s non-creepy basement hang out room”

    • Hey Sarah! This is actually my friend’s basement, but I asked her about when someone else asked me about that print–it came from Hobby Lobby, but it was several years ago at this point.

Like all human bloggers, I love comments :)