My BUDGET DIY basement is almost done! My goal for the new year is to finish it!

One of the goals I have for the new year is to continue working on and finish up my DIY basement room.  Make it look like the above picture.  This has actually been my goal for a couple of years and, to be honest, I have run out of steam for this project.  Has that ever happened to you?  The grandkids are using it in its current almost done condition and it would be so easy to leave it as it is.  I want to be proud of this room, though, so I am determined to finish it up.  Here it is now. 


Almost done!


Where it started

I wish I had a before picture of this room, but it was such a disaster in the beginning that a picture wasn’t really possible.  Imagine if you moved into a house and put all of the boxes in the basement, piled up from the floor to ceiling.  That’s what happened when we downsized. 




The dream in my head

  • Shiplap walls
  • Beautiful built-in cabinets, shelves and closets for storage
  • A stone corner wall with a built-in fireplace and a TV over it
  • Wood floor, or one that at least had a wood look
  • A finished ceiling that didn’t look too commercial
  • Comfy furniture for the grandkids
  • Everything light and bright

In my dream, I was going to accomplish all of this by myself on a tiny budget with a little help (or a lot) from Pinterest and YouTube. 

A summary of what I have done

I have done nearly everything in this renovation myself, having started out without much knowledge.  It has been very slow going.  Here is how I did it…

Shiplap wall

There was one outside concrete wall.  This is where I wanted to put the shiplap, so it needed insulation and studs. Since there is more than one way to stud a wall, I didn’t go with the old-fashioned way, the way that requires two people or at least one very strong person. I did it another (easy) way, one that I, a grandmother, could do all by myself!  I didn’t invent this product, nor am I being paid to tell you about it.  However, this 2-in-1 product, called InSoFast, literally made it possible for me to finish my basement by myself!  I can’t tell you how much I love InSoFast.  



I did all of this in one day with the very easy instructions provided by the company.  Believe it or not, the panels are applied with glue!  Those black lines are the studs.  After the insulation/studs were up, I applied the shiplap planks with my Ryobi brad nailer.  My favorite tool!A picture of a Ryobi cordless brad nailer

I used this tool for everything except nailing into cement.  Unfortunately, it wouldn’t do that.  With this tool and my table saw, I put up my planks pretty easily.  You can find more details here.

Wall of built-ins

This was fun.  I took my ideas to Lowe’s and sat down with the cabinet guy.  In a few minutes I had this:



I had them deliver (2) pantry closet cabinets (one for each end) and (4) 36-inch upper wall cabinets which I installed on the floor, plus all the lumber for the shelving units.



Since I was installing wall cabinets on the floor, I built a box out of 2X4s to serve as a base for each of them.  I used a lot of shims as the floor wasn’t even close to level.  For the wood counter, I used (2) 2X8 pine boards 12 feet long.  I glued them together to form a 15 inch wide counter. It looked really pretty after it was stained and polyurethaned.



The shelving units were made entirely from half-inch plywood.  I used this product to accommodate my budget.  



I made a 36-inch wide box with a back to fit over each cabinet.  Then I used 1X2 inch pine to hold up each shelf.



I used the 1×2 pine to trim everything as well.  See that nasty pipe hanging in front of the built-in wall??  It was a pain in the a** to workaround!



When the wall unit was almost done, I actually hired people to do the ceiling, the electricity, and the floor.  I realized my limits.  The floor is Pergo which I purchased from Lowe’s on a big sale.  I really wanted a much fancier ceiling, one that looked like beadboard.  Not in the budget, though, so I settled for this drop ceiling.  I don’t love it.  In the meantime I had:

  • boxed in the 2 lally columns
  • boxed in the I beam
  • built 2 closets with sliding barn doors

Fireplace wall

I originally wanted a gas fireplace with a remote, like the one I have upstairs and love.  It turned out that with all the venting issues involved, the price was going to be way too high.  This is what I found instead when I went to the August West Fireplace Store.


Gorgeous!  Not gas, electric, but it looks real.  More or less.  Let me say that it was not cheap (about $1000).  But I splurged on this one thing.  My sons built the diagonal wall in the corner to install it in and I put up the drywall.



After the drywall was up, I started to apply the ledger stone panels.  I bought them for a great price at Floor and Decor.  Each “tile” is 6 by 24 inches and put up with mortar.  I had to cut nearly everyone.  Luckily I was able to borrow a wet saw.  The mortar I bought was already mixed.  That helped.  Really difficult to open that container, though.  Wow.  I have since discovered that there is a special tool for this purpose.



People told me this would be easy.  It wasn’t hard, but it took me forever.  As I said, I had to cut nearly every panel.  Still have all my fingers, too.



What is left to do

I am still working on the stairs.  I have torn up the ugly carpeting and am refinishing the worn-out oak treads that were underneath.  They will match the new floor and have white risers.

All the finicky details:

  • baseboard
  • closet doors
  • door hardware
  • sanding and painting
  • fix mistakes (yup, there are some)

The grandkids don’t notice these things but I do.  I have vowed not to start another room until this one is finished.  Bummer.  

So, onward I go!  Finish it up, Ellie!


As always, take care. You can do it!


17 thoughts on “My BUDGET DIY basement is almost done! My goal for the new year is to finish it!”

  1. Awesome job Ellie it looks so great. I remember when you started it when we stayed at the house. It’s looking great you should be very proud!!

  2. Hi Ellie, you are doing a fabulous job, all by yourself! Can’t imagine doing all that renovation! Good for you❤️❤️😷😷

  3. You are simply amazing! We just finished remodeling our bar. I didn’t do a thing other than design it and Phil just wrote out the checks. We are almost done redoing our theater. I’m so excited about that! Our last project will be the large 3 room Jack & Jill bathroom upstairs shared by two guest rooms. We’ve been in this house for 11 years and will finally be finished this year. We have decorated every room in this 5,200 sq foot money pit!

  4. Wow Ellie! This looks amazing! I would love to have a room in my house just like it. I can’t wait to see it when you’re finished. You are definitely an inspiration. Amazing job!


Leave a Comment