An Unfinished Basement Craft Room on a Budget

I took a couple of months off from blogging to finish a lot of open projects we had started.  My theory was that if I took a break from blogging, we could finish a million projects and that I’d have a ton of time to write.  Instead, we started more projects along the way… got some chickens, a cat… took up ballet.  Hmmph… simplicity isn’t our thing I guess. We try ; )


Amidst all of the chaos that is our normal life, I sought to find a secret hiding place in this house that was just for me.  During the blizzard, we got a little antsy and started asking ourselves how we could occupy our time- that’s when the craft room idea was born.  John and I were looking to get rid of clutter and decided that we could do without one of our basement storage areas.  I wanted a place to hide my permanent markers and NONwashable paints from the kids but still have them accessible for my spur of the moment crazy ideas that have to come to life right away.

The solution:  Creepy, musty unfinished laundry room in the basement.

Sounds lovely right?

Unfinished Basement

So here’s what went down.

We vacuumed up the cobwebs and donated almost everything in the storage area.   We gave the concrete a good scrub down.  It’s really crazy what kind of stuff accumulates when you have the space available to accumulate it.

We used leftover white paint on the cinder blocks and got a can of porch paint for the concrete floor.


John took down the upper cabinets that came with the space and put a 2×8 wood board across the top to open up the narrow space.  We stained the board with weathered gray stain that we put on everything- remember our coffee table?

Unfinished basement craft room
Unfinished basement craft room

I had a wire storage shelf that I covered with one of the old table tops that I had saved from a previous project.

My light fixture was $3.75 from a thrift store and it is super retro and I love it.  Sometimes I give it a little hug- emotionally.  While crafting, I look up and kind of smile at it.  You say creepy? I say … yes, creepy.  But it’s that great.


I had a room divider that we got out of the trash somewhere and repurposed.  I originally used it at my sister’s bridal shower but now it is a perfect way to hide the utilities in the unfinished space.


I stole the rug from Olivia’s room (it didn’t match her new board and batten anyway) and it made the space nice and cozy.

I went on Craigslist and found a $15 bookcase to store more bins of crafty treasures.  I sold one of our rocking chairs in storage to pay for it to stick to the budget.

John really helped to transform the space by putting up beadboard wainscoting on the ceiling.  The beadboard was given to us from our friend Moe, who was in the process of downsizing. What a great gift!!! We are grateful.

We brainstormed ways to tackle the unfinished wall.  Drywall would put us out of our budget which led us to shiplap.  John cut our leftover plywood sub-flooring into strips to make some shiplap.  Yes, shiplap in the basement!



His OCD tendencies struggled a bit with the uneven boards but I refused to let him re-cut.  I LOVED the subtle textures of the uneven boards.  I liked the vibe of the wall.  That’s a thing…  everyone talks about the vibes of their walls.  I tell myself that.  Put a feeling in every wall in your home and it will speak to you.

I put some fabric over an old bulletin board to make it pretty and threw all of my things on a folding table that doubles as a laundry folding space.  That was the idea anyway- I still fold laundry on the pingpong table.  I’m a creature of habit.


TA-DA “Cheapo Transformo”

Make something out of nothing!!!


dsc_0573 Unfinished Basement Craft room

It’s my happy place.

The breakdown of $100 went to 1 extra plywood board for the wall, additional wainscoting for the ceiling when we were just a little short, floor paint, and the board for the cabinets.

It may not be fancy- but it’s a perfect little momma cave for me to tinker away.







Round two of Bedroom Painting

Winter took a while to get here in Maryland but when she finally arrived she had to make up for lost time.  Hello Winter… we have a long term love-hate relationship going on.
Housaholics Home

John and I decided to work on the inside of the house during the cold months.  We poked around and did some itty bitty things that I love- like backpack cubbies in our bookshelf.  Why didn’t we think of that before??


Cubbies in the Bookshelf
When you don’t have a mudroom you get a little creative.


We also got to painting the bedrooms.  Some of the bedrooms went through a 2nd round of paint.  Does anyone else repaint their bedrooms on the regular? Clarification: Does anyone else convince their husband to repaint their bedrooms on the regular?  What can I say- John is awesome.  Sorry for the grainy pictures to follow.  I have to dust off the DSLR.  I’m lazy and I love the convenience of whipping out my iPhone from my back pocket for a quick pic.  First world problem I suppose.

Olivia’s room Before


Olivia’s Room After



The Master Bedroom Before

Small Master Bedroom Before

Master Bedroom After

John and I did an upholstered grey headboard together as our Christmas present to each other.  Total cost for materials was $50.

DIY Grey Nail head trim Headboard

I can’t wait to put in the beadboard ceiling!

Navy blue Master Bedroom

…and now grab your sunglasses because Emma’s room might make your eyes water.  Little Emma picked out this bright, bold color and it could not be more fitting for this kid.

Emma’s Room Before

Navy Blue girls bedroom
I could have cleaned before I took this picture…

Did you grab your sunglasses?

Emma’s Room After

Hot pink Girls Bedroom with Daybed

Holy Pinkness

Hot pink Girl's Bedroom Daybed

And in case you missed

Jocelyn’s Harry Potter bedroom reveal

Red and Gold for Gryffindor

Emma is already talking about her next paint color… rainbow polka dots. What a little Housaholic ( :  Hopefully I don’t wake up to Mr. Sketch scented polka-dots lining her walls one of these days.

DIY White Kitchen Remodel

When we moved into the house, we had plans to paint the kitchen cabinets and replace the countertops for an easy kitchen facelift.  After living in the house for a couple of weeks, we noticed lots of water damage on the inside of the oak and particle board cabinets that we initially missed.  We should have checked inside every cabinet!  We didn’t want to put hard work into cabinets that were not in great shape.  I also wanted all-wood cabinets since we are hard on our stuff!  We decided to do our own DIY Renovation.  


There was also a giant peninsula separating the kitchen from the dining space that made traffic flow difficult.  See it up there?? You can’t miss it! The peninsula was the sole reason it took me one second too long to stop Olivia from dumping the dog’s water bowl onto the floor in fits of sweet giggles.  There was so much spilled water.  That kid would here the “clink” of the dog’s stainless steel water bowl and come crawling as fast as her chubby little legs could propel her forward.

The countertop was great for food prep but just became the dumping ground for junk.  The location of the peninsula also didn’t leave enough space to float the dining table in the middle of the dining space, so the table had to be pushed up against the wall.  It wasn’t a functional space.

We started by removing the strange patch of green carpet in the dining area.  John and I assumed that there would be more hardwood flooring under it. We weren’t so lucky.  There was only plywood under the space.  We installed a bamboo floor, which we will call Floor Number 1.  The story here is that John said, “Amanda, are you absolutely sure that you want to keep this wall? We need to be absolutely sure before we put the floor in.”  I assured him,”Yes, I’m positive,” and then changed my mind a couple of months later, which resulted in installing Floor Number 2. I’ll get there ( :





On Christmas Eve, John and I decided to peak inside The Great Wall to see what was inside.  We got a little carried away when the kids went to bed and started tearing apart The Great Wall.  We didn’t have much of a plan here. Our thought process was more like, “wouldn’t it be cool to see the Christmas tree from the kitchen?!” We can be slightly impulsive sometimes.  We even wrapped our tree in saran wrap!

Saran Wrap Christmas Tree

You can see Daisy here, giving us the puppy look for, “What the hell is wrong with you people?” #sawdustforchristmas

Once the Great Wall was out, the peninsula stuck out even more like a sore thumb.  John and I went back and forth about the layout.  If we took out the peninsula, we would sacrifice counter space and cabinet space but we would gain more walking space and achieve a layout that would be more integral with our new open concept layout.  For us, more counter and cabinet space meant more junk.

Our open space was much more valuable to us for how we live.  We starting hacking apart the peninsula.  Sorry for the dark pictures, we are moonlight DIYers. If you want to get your kids to be able to sleep through anything, get them accustomed to the sounds of power tools at night as early as possible.



We made up for the lost cabinet space from the peninsula with bookshelves in our dining area.  One of them houses our Pyrex and more cookware.  The floating shelves in the dining area are from Ikea.


(View from Kitchen into the dining area)



(same spot in the kitchen)


We removed the rest of the cabinets, backsplash, and smashed the ceramic tile.  We had open space! I started referring to the demo space as the ghetto with the holes in the walls and electrical hanging from the ceiling.  Luckily, the kids didn’t seem phased by the demolition.  We made a fancy bridge out of extra plywood for them to walk across.


When they woke up Christmas morning and asked, “Where’d the wall go? Why is half of our kitchen gone?” We told them that we wanted to open up the space and they shrugged their shoulders and kept it moving. We hung the cabinets before John installed Floor Number 2.  We chose laminate since our budget was a little tight (this was our second floor after all) and because we are hard on our floors.

John and I chose a light quartzite material for our countertops and here is a huge tip that saved us money on our kitchen renovation.  We used a prefab kitchen island that came with a top to cut down on the cost of countertop material.  We could splurge on a small area of countertop and get the aesthetic feel that we wanted to achieve with a whitish grey counter, warmed by the wood top of the prefab island.  The island was $500 and it was totally worth it.  We purchased it from Amazon here.

I’m a great stud finder… Hey there, stud…


We modified a standard 24″ base cabinet to install the same farmhouse apron sink from IKEA that we used in our first kitchen remodel.

We ran into a big hiccup when the countertop installers put in the wrong slab!  It was the same type of material but NOT the one we chose in the show room.  It was very zebra-ish and it made me hyperventilate a little bit.

Wrong Granite
They installed the wrong slab! I call this zebra granite.

We called the company and they said “OOPS no problem,” and hurried back to put the right slab on.  Their customer service was excellent.  Phew.


AH yes!  I was so happy that I may have drooled a little bit.  I gently wiped it down Mr. Miagi style. Wax on, wax off… true love.

I decided to tackle the glass tile backsplash myself and purchased a small wet saw for $50 off of Amazon.  If you need one, you can purchase it here.  It is incredibly easy if you do a little planning and measuring ahead of time.  I started the backsplash after the kids went to bed and finished around 1 am.  The tile is from Home Depot and it’s called Arctic Ice. It’s a beautiful seafoam green/aqua color.


Future plans in the kitchen include new lighting and a beadboard ceiling.  We also plan on painting the inside of our glass cabinets.  The kitchen stools were only $16 from Bed, Bath and Beyond.  I got them on sale and with the 20% off coupon!  The price was so great that I felt like a stole them.  One of my favorite things about the kitchen is this little spice cabinet in the awkward space between my sink and stove.


 Having an open concept space brought the family closer together.   For the first year we were in the home, we pretty much lived in the basement.  Removing that huge wall gave us plenty of space to play together without feeling like we were on top of each other. It felt as though we could finally spread out upstairs and fill every space in our home with love and laughter.









This space is a reflection of our family- casual, bright, and open.  We could have settled on the kitchen we had but we wouldn’t have enjoyed the space as much as we do now.  We are going to be in this house for a while and the $5000 investment will give back to us on a daily basis.  Doing dishes is fun now!… Totally kidding. 

Thanks for visiting the kitchen.


DIY Concrete “Paver” Walkway


John and I recently had our X shaped gravel walkway taken out.  We installed a budget friendly DIY concrete walkway with the Quikrete Walk Maker and couldn’t be happier with the results:

Concrete Paver Walkway

I came to really hate that gravel.  If I wanted to run outside really quickly to get something out of the car, I’d avoid the gravel all together and walk in the grass.   Shoes are for excursions greater than 5 minutes in my opinion. When we bought the home, we thought it would be simple to dig out the gravel.  Once we got to it, we found out that there was a concrete sidewalk under the gravel that was in terrible shape.  You can see the blasted sidewalk and the gravel path here:


I came across this funny little clip of the kids digging out the gravel. Click the link for a good chuckle.

Kids digging out walkway

The ornamental grasses are out and you can see the glory of the 70s here.

A paving company dug out the rock, sidewalks, and part of our driveway out.  There was a ton of debris!  John told me he could do this by himself in one day. He’s an optimist.  What a guy.

Walkway Demo

While this grading/excavating was underway, we were changing out our shutters and adding the window boxes. Don’t they make a huge difference?!

Walkway Demo

Already so much better! Between the gravel and the dirt, I’ll take the dirt any day! The workers sent some strange looks my way as I giddily walked up and down the dirt path.  I resisted the urge to lay down and make dirt angels in the center of the “X.”

Walkway Demo

Two dump trucks worth of dirt later… a lot of our neighbors walked by at this point to figure out what the heck we were doing.  The best way to meet all of your neighbors is to tear out your entire front yard and turn it into the Sahara. You can see the giant homes being built in the field next to us.  Hopefully we don’t scare away the potential buyers.  We have been known to hug the chain link fence and scream, “They have kids!!!” if a family comes through to look at the first house that went in.

Walkway Fill Dirt

Walkway Fill Dirt

After our excitement over dirt began to subside, we realized we needed something to walk on.  We decided on paver stones and began making a list of materials to pick up at Home Depot and Lowes.  We were getting all excited again until we realized that this project was far more expensive than we anticipated, a little over $1,000.  We said “Good bye plan A,” and moved onto Plan B, which was to google a cheaper option.  Plan B evolved into installing a DIY concrete paver walkway with the Quikrete Walk Maker.  We ordered it from Amazon here.Concrete Mold

We decided on Plan B with the Quikrete Walk Maker for a number of reasons:

  1. Concrete is super cheap.
  2. We wouldn’t have to worry about labor costs.
  3. We didn’t need to purchase gravel/sand mix to level since concrete adheres and bonds to its surface.
  4. Less grading was required, since the mold could be shimmed.
  5. We could do sections at different times, since the mold is a 2×2 ft square.



To use the concrete mold, you rake the ground a little bit to level and create a good bonding surface.  We eventually added some landscaping fabric underneath to prevent weeds from creeping up.  Then, you lay the mold on the ground, mix your concrete and pour it in.  We mixed ours with a shovel in a wheelbarrow.  I found adding a bit of extra water allowed for a smoother finish with the masonry trowel.  We used 60 lb bags of concrete because they were on sale but this particular mold does require 80 lb of concrete per mold.   Emma was helping out when we experimented with the first one.  There’s our trusty living room lamp!


Concrete Mold Walkway

John added a bit of concrete dye in each mold so they would be a little bit more grey instead of white.  The newer sections stay dark for about a day and then start to lighten like the other sections.

Concrete Paver Walkway

We worked a lot at night after the kids went to bed.  John and I got into a good routine.  He would mix the concrete in the wheelbarrow while I used the trowel to smooth the surface.  While it dried, we drank wine.  That part was an essential step in the process.  I’d let the mold sit for 5-6 minutes before pulling the mold.  Having two people really made the job much easier.

Concrete Paver Walkway

Every day, we would add another 6-8 sections.

Concrete Paver Walkway

Concrete Paver Walkway

The kids put the leftover concrete to good use.  With some tiles, buttons, and shells they made me beautiful stepping stones.

Concrete Mold

Then one night, I randomly painted our front door an aqua color.  I had the paint color matched to Benjamin Moore Wythe Blue.
Concrete Paver Walkway - Benjamin Moore Wythe Blue Door


As we got closer to finishing, we stamped a little bit of love into the walkway.  This is my favorite.  Whenever Olivia walks past the handprints, she stops to put her hand in her handprint.


Concrete Mold Walkway

After all the concrete was dry, we added polymeric sand to fill in the cracks. Polymeric sand bonds and hardens after you wet it and is the same material that you use to fill in between actual paver stones.We used Scotts EZ Seed to fill in around our new walkway and stood back to take it in.  No more gravel!

Exterior (After)
Here is a closer look at the walkway.  We get tons of compliments on it and a lot of people can’t tell it’s concrete unless we tell them! The handprints give them a clue.  The materials cost about $250. Had we not added the dye, it would have been even cheaper! So worth our concrete-mixing blistered hands!

Concrete Paver Walkway
The quikrete walk maker is the way to go for a budget friendly DIY walkway.