Make An Ugly Basement Beautiful

The Beginning

It was a typical basement; concrete walls, an unfinished ceiling with exposed pipes and wires going every which way, lots of spiders, and a few mice. Really ugly.  If I looked past this, though, I could see that it had some advantages:

  • It is really big
  • The furnace and hot water heater are already in a separate room
  • There is good ceiling height (over 7 feet)

My basement was an ugly mess, (I wish I had pictures) but I had a dream to make it beautiful.

Imagine moving into a house and piling all of your boxes into your basement, filling it from floor to ceiling, making it impossible to navigate.  This is what we did after a major downsize. 


We lived with this situation for several years while we worked on more pressing issues; a new roof, siding, kitchen, deck…. and then my husband died.

The basement was the last thing on our to-do list and I decided to just do it.  I was never short on optimism.

My Basement Dream

This room was going to be for my grandchildren.  A room for them to lounge in, watch tv, play their video games, read, nap, whatever.  I had a picture in my head which included the following things:

  • 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
  • A wood floor, or one that at least looked like wood 
  • A finished ceiling that didn’t look too commercial
  • Comfy furniture for the grandkids to lounge or sleep on
  • Everything light and bright

In my dream, I was going to accomplish all of this by myself on a tiny budget.  I had no idea how, but I figured I’d get a little help from Pinterest and YouTube.  It was going to be beautiful.  At the very least, it was going to keep me busy for a while.  I needed a project.  

Getting Started 

Getting started is the worst part.  I love doing the research and planning, but as far as actually starting the project, I’m the worst. So, for this part, I spend many hours on the internet looking for products and tools to make a project EASY. That is, easy enough for a woman in her 60s to accomplish.

Pinterest has been been a wonderful help, giving me not only thousands (OK, maybe not thousands) of ideas but also a place to keep them more or less organized.

I have found great products and tools that have made my projects easy and fun. My goal is to share all of this with you.


Planning The Layout


The fun part!  One can spend hours online dreaming over beautiful room designs.  How will the room be used and who will use it? In my case, this was easy. The room was for my grandchildren. I would need a comfy place for them to sit and view television and play their electronic games. Maybe something like this:


A picture of a room like the one I planned for my renovated basement


I also wanted LOTS of storage. Cabinets with shelving overhead. Maybe something like this:


Enough room for a couple of game tables would be nice as well:

See how much fun I’m having!  (I mean how much fun THEY will have, of course)

I didn’t need bedrooms in my new basement area, but if you want a legal bedroom in yours, you will need to install an egress window.  I, personally, am not up to digging out cement and would have to hire a contractor. BUT … it is possible to do it.

So, if you need an egress window here is a great article. This young couple did a wonderful job!

Before you start a basement project, you should check for moisture.  Great article on how to do this and how to fix moisture problems here.  I am so excited about starting this project!

The End (Almost)

Three years later…I am pleased to tell you that the basement renovation project is 90% done.  If I hadn’t been recovering from surgery for the past 3 months, it might be all the way done.  But maybe not.  I may hire someone to do the final touches.

The great part is that the final product looks almost like my dream pictures.  And that makes me very happy.

A picture of the finished fireplace
Fireplace wall


A picture of the finished cabinet and shelving unit wall
Shelving wall


First and foremost, the product that got me started and made the whole project so much easier is Insofast Insulation Panels. I am not being paid to promote this product.  It is just a great product!  Here is how it works.  You apply the insulation panel with the recommended adhesive and that is it!  The studs are already in the insulation panel.


  • Table saw  

 It became clear to me right away that I needed a table saw.  Being a beginner in the DIY world, I didn’t want to get an expensive saw so I did a lot of research and finally bought this one.

A picture of a Skil table saw

This is a very basic table saw and very easy to set up and use.  It comes with a table.  It’s perfect for me.  To read how I use it, read here.

  • Ryobi caulking gun


A picture of a Ryobi Power Caulk Gun
Fantastic tool for applying the adhesive to the panels




As always, take care. You can do it!



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5 thoughts on “Make An Ugly Basement Beautiful”

  1. ELLIE!!! You make me wish I had a basement💗

    You are the rockingest grandma I know!! I’m in love with that INSOFAST insulation with studs and chases built in!!! Absolutely brilliant product.


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