Last Big Project: Basement Hallway Transformation

Maybe I should clarify that first part. “Last big project for the next two weeks at Garrison” is probably more appropriate.

For the uninitiated, Garrison is the house I bought 5 years ago, and which is currently for sale. Not to be confused with the Memorial house, which is the one that 1.) stinks,  2.) has a gas station we’re moving into, and 3.) will be the future home of our miniature donkeys. And us.

Only one of those things is contingent on us selling the Garrison house in the next 12 months. Like the part where we eventually move out of the gas station and into a finished house.

In the last five years I have essentially stripped out every piece of this house that wasn’t nailed down and refinished, tiled, painted, or rebuilt it. (I actually used a contractor for part of that work — the part where my water meter got installed backwards and the tile got installed wrong, so if you’re wondering why I have a website on doing it yourself, there you go.)

But there was one last place of the house that hadn’t been touched, and that I really felt needed to be finished, first, for my own personal sense of satisfaction, and second… did I mention I want to sell this house in the next year.

And the basement hallway still looked like this…


The best I can figure, someone got a good deal on 20 gallons of battleship gray paint. The stairs, walls, ceiling, and floor were all the same color.


We’re not talking shades of gray, we’re talking shade. One. Though the door had a little white on it, so I guess that’s something.

A few months ago I dug in and started stripping the gray paint of those beautiful hardwood stairs.


For more scintillating information on this project you can check out how I bruised and burnt myself, didn’t give up,  and almost burnt my house down with a sander that looks like an armadilla.

That fun little adventure did result in the absence of gray paint on the steps in the end, which is all that matters.


After the stairs were stained, I attacked the epoxy-painted brick walls with an oil based primer…


And a sunny latex paint.

There was a time when I thought I was going to cross a line and put stick=tiles on this floor instead of real ceramic, and then I remembered that I have morals when it comes to fixing up a house other people will eventually live in. If it’s not good enough for me, I’m not going to patch it up real quick and sell it to someone else…

And who doesn’t love a good grout job, anyway?


Looking for some how-to goodness on tiling? Find it here. (I incurred no injuries in the tiling of this floor. Unless you count the frostbite from using my wet-saw outside in 20-degree weather.)

I alluded to the finishing touches last weekend…


And for under $200 (don’t even get me started on the number of man-hours though) we go from this…


to this…


One of the lucky things about this old house? It came with 12 miscellaneous doors, from who-knows-where — one of which MysteryMan helped me trim down to use in place of that blue-and-white one.


If you’re curious about what’s behind curtain number one… that’s another before & after for later this week, along with a how-to on the fabric panels for under the stairs.

And speaking of stairs. A couple of coats of dark walnut stain and satin polyurethane finish? Worth. Every. Burn.


4 Responses

  1. pfft, seems like a lot of extra context for the “uninitiated”. back in my day, if we wanted to know what-the-heck-is-diydiva-talkin-about we had to go back and READ. 😉

    I kid, I kid really. This is a fabulous transformation! Love the stair curtain too, very clever. But a question- is there a reason we don’t (or I haven’t at least) see basements with tile floors. Is it just considered too nice for a basement so that’s why people do peel n stick instead?

  2. Wow, beautiful transformation. I love the stairs. Fabulous job. 🙂

    Kudos on the real tiles, too. Makes me wish I could’ve done that to ours – we tiled the floor around the bar in our basement, we figured carpet + drinks = disaster waiting to happen. Ceramic tiles would have been wonderful and much nicer (and cost the same), but we opted for the peel-n-stick due to two factors: the bar is curvy, and the floor is not level at all. Looking back, I suppose we could’ve leveled it, but I’m not sure how that would’ve worked out – the floor underneath the tiles is actually 30+ year old mastick left over from asbestos vinyl tiles put down in the 70’s, and virtually impossible to remove. Sorta funny to think that we threw carpet and tiled over a thick layer of antiqued glue, haha.

    Anyways, awesome job again on the stairwell – looks superb.

  3. Great work on the paint job! The contrasting colors of pale yellow and brown added light in the room. I love the curtains too! Where did you get those?

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I'm not interested in a mediocre life. I'm here to kick ass or die.