Our Basement Renovation Project with Lowes!

When we bought our house we were glad that half of the basement was “finished”.  Well, turns out “finished” was using the term lightly. Not truly habitable, we basically use it as a storage space for our crap.  After we got rid of Andrew’s office to make way for our master bathroom- he had to move his desk down there too.  He works from home, so this kinda sucks for him is BIG way.  So when Lowes wanted to partner up to do a basement makeover with me I jumped at the chance (like, frantically scrambled).  With little Baby Gates on the way and visions of piles of toys in my future, I thought this space could make a great den/playroom and office for Andrew.

Turns out we have to build out the walls a bit for proper insulation and wiring (the wiring right now is super shifty and exterior) so it will be a little but smaller than this, but here is our overall plan to make the space usable.  A spot for a sofa (sleeper?) and media center, a small bar area for drinks and stuff and an area for a desk.  Obviously when the baby gets bigger and actually plays down here we’ll add some more storage for toys.   To keep things contained (and quiet) I want to use a cool reclaimed wood barn door on a track to close off the door opening to the room.  We also have to add an egress window into the space to make it legal (since we took out the basement door when we did our first renovation upstairs).
Gates2 1

Here are the terrifying pics of the space now.  Note the lovely textured plaster ceiling and walls (yuck!)  We also are getting rid of the fireplace.  We would never use a fireplace down here and have plans to make our living room fireplace a two sided gas one (shared with the sunroom, which I hope to make a family room next summer) which will need two flues to operate.


Wow, this is like showing people naked pictures of yourself. AHHHH.


The stairs down to the basement will be refinished to match our current wood flooring and I’ll put a runner down the center (and a new railing).  The previous seller encapsulated asbestos flooring with new ceramic tiles and to avoid having to spend tons of money on abatement to rip up the tile we are just going to put down vinyl plank flooring on top (it’s so think we won’t lose much headroom that way as we would with a wood laminate floor.


Here are the finishes we are planning to use!

1. Vinyl plank flooring // 2. Barn door hardware // 3. Hoping to get a door like this made // 4. Classic French Gray walls// 5. Recessed lighting // 6. Floating shelves above beverage bar  // 7. Countertop  //8. Wall sconces by sofa // 9.Beverage fridge // 10. Cabinet base // 11. Hardware // 12. Baseboard around the room

We plan to start demo on September 8th so we are done well before the baby’s arrival!  I’ll be blogging the progress as it moves along as well as my decor plans for the space (very boy friendly since I will be SURROUNDED by boys!) :)



  1. This is random, but you mentioned that you are going to do a gas fireplace in your main living area. Would you consider doing a post on gas fireplaces, inserts, modern gas stoves? We’re trying to navigate this decision but the aesthetics seem questionable in many cases.

    1. Yes please do! We want to put in a gas fireplace in our living room. It would be on an exterior wall but I’m not sure if it’s doable and have been wondering that for a long time! Thank you! Love your blog!

  2. Wow,most of the stuff you have randomly lying around in your basement is nicer than most of the stuff in my house!! What a great idea to make a nice finished space – you’ll be amazed and thrilled at how much it gets used…what a fun project!

  3. If you did not need to keep the preexisting tile, would you have still chosen the vinyl plank flooring? Just wondering if vinyl plank or laminate flooring is the better option for a basement (with a cement slab). Thanks.

    1. We’ve used both in client projects and both are great. Vinyl is even more durable though and should not warm in case of water damage!

    2. We just installed “luxury vinyl” planking in our basement. It’s a newish product with cork backer — COREtec Plus (around $4.50-$5 square foot, so comparable to some hardwoods). We chose it bc it’s waterproof and the cork provides some insulation. Tile would have been too cold (or too expensive with radiant heating for 1000 sq. ft), and hardwood and carpet too risky in case of leaking or flooding. We’ve been happy with it so far. It doesn’t pass as hardwood, but it looks a whole lot better than most vinyls do.

  4. I am looking forward to seeing the renovation as it progresses! I’m in the planning stages of my own basement renovation (currently 100% unfinished, but has 10 foot ceilings and a lot of promise), so I will appreciate the inspiration!

  5. Hi!I wish you good luck with your basement renovation . I am sure that it is going to look amazing ,can not wait for the pictures.In the mean time I spotted in your basement pictures an item that I am interested in-the sun burst and I was wondering if you do not have plans to use it,are you willing to give it away/sell it?

      1. Svetlana- I think Martha Stewart has a smaller knockoff at either lowes or Home Depot- can’t remember which.

  6. Awesome and best of luck! Lowes has great stuff so I’m excited to see this project unfold. Have you considered creating a SnapChat account? I’d love to “watch” little snippets of the project!

  7. “Wow, this is like showing people naked pictures of yourself. AHHHH.”

    Exactly! Our basement is currently “finished” with crappy vinyl flooring and paneled walls so we also just use it for storage. But because we just bought the house a year ago, everyone who comes over for the first time wants to see the basement too. I cringe whenever someone asks!

  8. I just saw a renovation recently that talked about removing a fireplace and it was going to be a huge undertaking, patching and repairing through two floors and the roof! It’s so charming! Except for that stone on the top…. But with winter coming, you may really love having another place to camp out in front of a crackling fire with a new little one! When my first was born we didn’t leave an 8×10 bonus room for weeks! (My anxiety was absurdly high). So anyway, will it be a huge part of the project to remove it? Just curious!

    1. But I have to chose a basement fireplace over a family room fireplace, the family room wins every time.

  9. We just put vinyl plank flooring- Traffic Master Allure from Home Depot- in our playroom/office space and I LOVE it. While I’m never going to claim it’s exactly like wood flooring, it is comfortable enough to sit on while playing, cleans well and does great in the high moisture space. Best decision I made in the room!

  10. Andrew deserves a more sophisticated work space! excited to see how this comes together.

    With the addition of our first baby in our household three months ago, I too am doing the household room gymnastics – all with an eye towards improving function and increasing storage!

  11. Lowes should pony up for the asbestos abatement. I know it’s technically not unsafe but someday someone will want it gone and they probably won’t have a “partner” to pay for it. Yes, I am bitter that my renovation projects always go over budget because of decades of covering things up!

  12. Does Andrew use a lucite chair (GASP) at his desk? Mr Idontwantluciteinmyhouse? While it looks like a big fat mess to you, it does look way better than most junk stuffed and abandoned in basements. I’m a big fan of double sided fireplaces and can’t wait to see the finished project both downstairs (coming soon) and upstairs (winterized sunroom… someday).
    It’s so much fun watching renovations being done at someone else’s house (so I don’t have to live through the clutter and dust again).

    1. I stole her brown leather chair from PB for the desk. Being Mr. Erin Gates has its privileges. :)

  13. Probably the only person I’ve seen who has the most fabulous “crap” stored in their basement! It’s going to look amazing.

  14. Love it!! Can’t wait to see decor finishes:) Also, been wondering about staircases lately?! I anm redoing ours and wondering if yours rails are stained black or espresso? Can’r decide which way to go with white spindles?

  15. this design is gorgeous and i can’t get over how beautiful that vinyl is! wish i had seen that one before i did my own basement! i can’t wait to see it!

  16. I just installed vinyl plank flooring in my home and could not be happier. Perfect selection for a basement. I look forward to seeing the outcome!

  17. Your timing is perfect as we are interviewing contractors today and tomorrow for our own basement renovation. Question is this: should we close off a portion of the 1000 square foot space for the home theater that my hubby is dying for or are we reducing the value by dividing the space. My hubby will give your opinion great weight, would be so grateful if you have time to share your opinion.

      1. Thanks! Home theater it is. Hope your renovation is super smooth and that you continue to feel terrific in this last stretch of pregnancy.

  18. Exciting! I was thinking about the vinyl plank flooring for my basement, but happened to spot on Pinterest (of course) concrete stained to look like wood. Have you heard of this, and what are your thoughts?
    This reno sounds so cool-can’t wait to see it in progress!

  19. Basements are one of those spaces that make this California girl very nervous i.e. being buried n an earthquake and only one tiny little window but I am also jealous of the extra space they provide and I love what you are doing…especially the barn door. And I would also like to pick through some of that “stuff” you are storing down there…looks fun! thanks for allowing us to follow along and btw…we all have a space like that, you should see my husband’s home office! Yikes!!

  20. Merry Christmas to me! We are building a new house and splurged the extra $ to have a basement dug. I have seen lots of beautiful basements online (including Ashton Kutcher’s redo of his mom’s basement on Houzz, so good) but they are rarely non-window spaces. I’m so happy to watch you transform a true basement and get some tips for our own. I think it’s intriguing work to take a mostly window-less, low-ceilinged space and make it light and bright and cozy. Also, it’s interesting to hear how a California girl would feel trapped in a basement; here in TN we feel safe having one due to tornadoes. Love your blog so much, continued blessings on the baby.

  21. We have a gas fireplace in our family room and LOVE it – they really heat up the space so we catually dont turn on the heat that often. Perfect for NE winters. Its a corner unit with a pretty ugly maple type color wood surround and mantel. Any idea if we could paint or restain the wood or am I just asking for problems?

  22. Can’t wait to follow along on this journey! Random question for you: where’s the armchair in the corner from? It’s pretty perfect!

  23. Hi Erin, Loving the details of your new basement project. Can I ask where you would go to have a barn door made? A friend of mine is renovating a limestone house and wanted to have that in her home.

  24. I would love some tips on stair runners. What do I look for when putting a runner on hardwood stairs that ends in a carpeted room? I’m just not sure that it would flow well but I have an older dog with knee problems who can’t do the wood stairs and my back is getting tired of carrying her up and down.

  25. Hi Erin,

    Wanted to make sure you have had a radon test done….it is easy to mitigate….but would be easier before construction begins.


  26. Whoa…the “year of the basement remodel”…our daughter and son-in-law are “tackling” theirs, too.
    It makes me shudder…having gone through same…. franki

  27. Barn doors are NOT very quiet! The sound waves just escape through the space between door & wall, since there is no frame. (Especially troublesome when you are trying to share a hotel room with the family!)

  28. So excited to see this space unfold in the coming months. It’s going to look awesome and it looks like it’s going to function perfectly for your growing family. :-)

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