Let me show you my mess.
You know where most of that stuff needs to go? A thrift store. Or the trash.
This is my much-maligned downstairs. (Mostly maligned by me. Well, and the children. They malign it frequently.)
This area was originally intended to be a basement, and it’s constructed as if it were a basement, with cement floors and mostly cinderblock walls. When construction started, the builder told us that he had found too much rock. Digging down the basement would be very expensive. He suggested building up–making the basement the ground floor and putting the main floor of the house on the second floor. The nice side effect of this decision was that we have a great view from the main floor. And seriously, can you imagine if this had not happened this way? If the main floor of the house was at ground level, we’d have all the chickens roosting on the porch instead of just a few, and Clover would be sitting in a rocking chair drinking iced tea from a Mason jar and ordering cookies.
Anyway! So, we have a basement that is not a basement. This often creates confusion for people. Sometimes people think our house is huge. If the basement were below grade as it was intended, the actual main house would look a lot smaller. The house isn’t actually that big, which is why we decided to go with a basement to begin with. There wasn’t enough space in the house for bedrooms for three teenagers. Morgan has a small loft bedroom upstairs, on a third floor that is just her bedroom and a small bathroom. The only other room where I could put the boys was the bedroom at the back of the house that we use now to keep the wood stove and for some office space. (I work at home.) Couldn’t really see cramming two teenage boys in there. So, we built the basement that is not a basement. It’s the same dimensions, of course, as the main floor of the house. (About 1100 square feet.) We sat down with the builder and devised an outline for the floor space, creating two bedrooms at either end on the back side. Between the bedrooms, we made a large utility space with a big wash tub for dogs and vegetables (hmmm…… that doesn’t sound too good, does it?) and a bathroom for the boys. Since there was plenty of space and we had a free extra washer and dryer, we had the builder put washer/dryer hookups in there and it has been fabulous for the boys to have their own laundry. If you have teenage boys, you know what I mean.
The remaining space is divided by a staircase to go upstairs. One side is a “den” for the teenagers. An old couch is in there, a weight bench set they had, a rough desk for their computer, and a TV.
The other side was intended to be storage space, but it’s so disorganized and junked up, it’s useless. I also keep a few freezers there.
The entire space is brutally spartan. Cement floors. Cinderblock walls on all walls but the walls for the bedrooms and bathroom. Floor joists for ceilings.
Time has a way of passing, and with it, children grow. And LEAVE YOU. Ross is in the Navy. Weston is headed for college soon. (How? Why? Can’t we start over with kindergarten???) To make myself feel better over this abandonment by my offspring, and because I like to utilize space, I have begun to dream a little dream down there.
No, not a dream. A plan!
I’m going to start by getting rid of all that junk. I’m going to get rid of the weight bench, too. Ross told me he isn’t going to want to ever take it, and Weston never uses it. (Note Weston’s jacket hanging on it in the photo above.) I’m going to strip the space down–and transform it. This year, for the first time, I can afford to use my tax refund for something other than keeping myself out of jail. I’m just kidding. About the jail. I’ve never been to jail. I swear! Anyway, I’m going to invest my tax refund in the house. Make this space lighter, airier, and more comfortable. I see classroom/workshop space. Shelves, a few worktables. LOTS OF LIGHTING. I think paint for the block walls to brighten them up. Maybe some wall hangings–old quilts. The bedrooms are already sheetrocked. I see two bedrooms that with elbow grease, paint, trim, throw rugs, ceiling tiles, careful selections from antique stores and auctions, and assorted other accoutrements can be turned into old-fashioned, cute “farmhouse” style bedrooms. The theme will be simple, quaint, vintage.
Ross’s room, already partly cleaned out. The only thing that will stay is the bed. (It’s an antique spindle bed that was mine as a child.)
I see a Weekend Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast with Cheesemaking Classes. Or a Weekend Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast with Soapmaking Classes. Heck, if you just want a Weekend Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast with Feeding Clover Cookies, you can have that, too.
I see a tax refund that I can invest into something that will change my life, offer me some added security, and give me another way to bring in income and support the farm. And Clover’s cookies. And a barn.
And so, before I start this project, I’m giving you the “before” pictures. I’ll be posting as I take it step by step, cleaning it out, stripping it down, and building it back up and decorating it–on a very frugal budget. I’ll need your ideas! Wanna come along?