Friday, July 15, 2011

Tour de Jour: Basement

Go ahead and get some food. You’re gonna be here awhile.

It’s important you know I actually finished my basement six weeks ago. Promise. I photographed it a month ago. This post has been a loooong time coming friends.

I had this magical, surreal 2 1/2 days all by myself in early June. That’s right. I was home alone.

home alone Remember Home Alone?

Harley and I were about to go to Alaska and needed to drop the kids off with his parents in Idaho. We believe in equal airplane parenting opportunity, so when I suggested (half jokingly) that Harley fly out ahead of me with the kids, then meet me for the cruise, he agreed. He’s great like that, right? He’d get a few days, including his Dad’s and sister’s birthdays, with his family, then a road trip with my dad, sister and brother-in-law to Seattle where we would all board the ship. So he flew alone, with two kids and an unexpected three hour layover in Denver. No one slept. They got in at 1am Boise time (3am on their bodies). Anderson had an accident on the plane.

I felt bad for Harley. I also felt a bit glad for Harley to be experiencing this. Just a little bit.

I looked forward to my Me Weekend for months. I had big, huge plans to get SO. MUCH. DONE. I made lists, I scheduled appointments, I counted down the days until this much needed 60 Hours of Productivity began. I was as excited to be home alone for 2 1/2 days as I was to go on the cruise.

But then the time came to take all my boys to the airport. Max was extra kissable that morning. I’d nursed him for the last time the day before. He was only 11 months old, and I was about to be separated from him for 11 days. ELEVEN DAYS. That’s an eternity in baby minutes.

And then there was Anderson. Driving to the airport I told Anderson how much I’d miss him. He told me, “Don’t be sad Mom. I can’t stay home. I have to go visit Jeddie and Grandma. But don’t worry Mom. I will come back. I love you! It will all be okay Mom. I promise.” So glad I have him to keep me strong.

So I dropped them off. My three favorite people in the whole world. I kissed them goodbye, put them on an airplane and drove away to begin the Weekend I’d Always Wanted. Instantly I missed them. Right away I was lonely.

Fortunately, a trip to Nordstrom all by myself cured my brief bout of loneliness.

My weekend was amazing! I shopped! I ran all kinds of errands and found so many things I’ve been looking for for months! I ate lunch in the mall food court all by myself while reading a book. I cleaned my house. I talked to my best friend. I slept in until 11am! I ate another lunch by myself while watching my favorite shows on Hulu. MY HOUSE STAYED CLEAN!!! I got a mani/pedi. I went to a Bunco party. I ran in and out of Target, and purchased 13 items, in less than 10 minutes. I sorted and stored the kids’ winter wardrobes. I went to a baby shower. I went to the library. I had my eyebrows threaded (I'm a fan). I made returns at Costco. I called people. I went to the pool with a friend. I ordered photos, picked them up and framed them. I packed for only myself, by myself. I accomplished only about half the items on my dream to do list, but that’s okay. I know I’ll never really get it all done. But I did get done what would have taken me months because I didn’t have two little shadows. I stayed so busy I wasn’t too lonely. And best of all I FINISHED MY BASEMENT!!!!!

Were you wondering when I was going to get back to the point of the post? Sorry, I just had to relive the glory that was that Weekend of Happiness. G.L.O.R.Y.

I wish I’d taken official basement “before” shots. I came across these on my landlord’s website the other day, and they pretty much show what we moved in to. A big empty space with white walls and great built-in shelving. Except those curtains. They weren’t here when we moved in.



I found one of our pictures that gives a good visual of the clutter we lived in “before.” See that pile of ish stacked in the back corner? We lived with that. For months. This picture was taken during preschool in February. (The kids were doing an obstacle course, going UP and UNDER, for the letter “U.”) We moved in September! I didn’t organize it all until the spring! I can’t believe I lived like that either. I’m kind of a completely commitment or definite denial girl. I’m in “not doing the basement yet mode” and it all just sits there –FOR MONTHS (was I really that busy?) -- and somehow it doesn’t drive me crazy, even though now looking back it totally does… and totally did, OR I’m “here we go, 100% doing the basement mode.” Off or on. All or nothing. I don’t know half-way.


The basement has bead board, which I love, and felt was wasted against the stark white walls. We painted them “warm flannel gray.” It made all the difference and I’m very happy with it.

I struggled for a long time with furniture placement. Mindy, decorator extraordinaire, had the great idea for a living room style set up with toys as furniture. Train table instead of coffee table. Puzzle mat (which we snagged from our neighbor’s trash pile! Don’t worry, I thorough scrubbed it.) instead of a rug. Ball bin (Ikea) instead of an end table. Bean bag instead of a pillow. Okay, confession: the bean bag is actually strategically covering the rips in the couch we had to duct tape together. This couch is just a little ghetto. But it is a fold out! And IT WAS FREE!! I should also mention the horse and activity table were free hand-me-downs. The entertainment center was a DI fix-up my mom gave us when we were first married. And the TV? It’s all the way from Harley’s pre-me college days. It’s the only TV in our house. Harley and I never watch it. It’s solely for shows for the kids. This is a perfect example of that “sometimes ghetto” part of my life. Maybe one day we’ll have one of dem der big fancy flat screen Teeee-Veeees. Not to get crazy or anything, but maybe we’ll spring for DVR. Or even cable! Maybe. Someday.



We love the train table (Costco, Christmas gift from grandparents). We love the storage drawers built into the train table.

DSC_0471 Below is the “Art Wall.” I commissioned Anderson to do some art for me. I bought colored frames at Ikea for $1.99 each. Let’s just go ahead and do the big fat Ikea shout out now. So much of this basement is thanks to the fabulousness that is Ikea.


I had this vision for what to put in these old white Pottery Barn frames on the ends. I wanted a picture of each kid, holding the first letter of his name. One day we set out for the park to accomplish it and it worked! With the exception of a few minor, picky things, they turned out just how I wanted. That never happens! His art bookended by my art. The “Art Wall.”

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More A&M Letter Photo Shoot here.


Next to the “Art Wall” is the “Story Wall.” The bulletin board I’ve had since junior high. We keep repurposing it with new pictures to tell our family story. Underneath you’ll find the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It’s one of our favorites. I found the cute reusable wall appliqués at Target. Many thanks to Robyn, who suggested I use the wall stickers to tell the story. I had planned to scatter them randomly all over the wall, just like they showed on the box, because I have a hard time thinking, well, outside the box. Bonus thanks to Mindy who suggested I curve the stickers like a caterpillar! Love it! I guess we should make a habit of cuddling up on that couch and readings books to make it truly the “Story Wall.” I think we will.



Below is the view of the basement after entering from the stairs. You could call this our “Business Wall.” Anderson’s movie watching and my computer time is serious business people. See the sliding doors? That’s right, walk-out basement. To a fenced backyard. With a swing. And a big water-proof shed. And Harley’s Garden of Eden. And stairs up to a deck, which has two gates so I can lock my littles up or down. And it all backs up to gorgeous woods. The only thing we’re missing is grass. Well, and a yard. That toy chest to the left of the desk? I got a screaming deal on it years ago. TJ Maxx. $16.


This is My Desk. My happy place. Someday I will paint that old (free) desk we’ve been hauling around for years. Meantime I can’t part with it because it’s huge and has great big drawers! Storage boxes=Ikea. Picture frames=Ikea. Block “W”=$1 at Michaels. My big splurge was the potted grass from Crate & Barrel for $11.

DSC_0501 DSC_0502 I look at this picture framed on my shelf every day, and it reminds me both to be creative and to cherish those faces.DSC_0113-1

And this, my friends, is my favorite wall of all. The “Fun Wall.” Also known as the “Create Wall” or the “Let’s Play! Wall.”


Let’s take it piece by piece, shall we?


I highly recommend this easel, with whiteboard on the back and drawing paper roll on the bottom. The Easter Bunny scored it for $15 at Ikea. The silver tins are courtesy Ikea’s kitchen section. They’re meant for kitchen utensils, but why, when you can use them for art utensils?DSC_0484

Cheryl made us three ABC boards. It’s scrapbook paper pinned to Styrofoam squares. Just today I got inspired and pinned polka dot ribbon around the edges.


Updated with ribbon:


Remember my wood pile? I bought this shelf at a garage sale for $10 and painted it green. The bulletin board was a hand-me-down and displays some of Anderson’s preschool projects. Bins and buckets=Ikea & Target. LOVE the number buckets! Mindy gifted them to me when Max was born. They’re so cute AND Anderson knows which toys belong in which number. Genius. The black shelves we bought at Walmart years ago. The vintage Radio Flyer scooter that you see in the bottom right corner (better shot in next pic) we picked up for $3 at a yard sale.


Below is my other happy place. My other desk. We purchased it at Ikea, and painted the legs red, when we first moved to DC. The firt desk is for being organized and getting stuff done. This one is for being creative. I wanted this basement to be a place of play and creativity. I create here, while my boys create and play all around me. Creative juices freely flowing all over this space as we all art it up together. Isn’t that a beautiful dream? I’ll let you know when it actually happens. The red phone is fake. Well, it’s real but we don’t pay for landline service, so it’s just an old phone (spray painted) for looks to impress you.


How amazing is the fabulous board?????!!!!! Robyn, who runs her own vinyl business, MADE IT FOR ME! I told her what I wanted, and she magically brought it to life. GUSH! It’s my favorite thing in the whole basement, and simply looking at it reminds me I love my life. Robyn usually makes vinyl prints that go directly on the wall, but I told her I’m not leaving this behind! So she put it on a board for me. FABULOUS!!! Love it!! Can’t get over it!! The white cubby I bought on clearance at Target and intended to put it on the desk as an organizer. Then I had the great idea to hang it! Harley was awesome figuring out exactly how to do that and wah-lah! Just look at all those scrapbook supplies I never use! The red mailbox sorter (spray painted) we’ve had since we got married and now serves as a home for coupons, envelopes and best of all… my “idea board.” I post pictures, clippings, magazine pages, etc. that inspire me. Like Pintrest (which, let’s friends!), but in real life. The polka dot bucket? A utensil caddy (Ross) I’m using for craft supplies. This desk almost makes you think I’m crafty, right? Secret: I’m not. Oh and that pink box on the desk reads “Drama Queen” and therefore, of course, holds buttons. Whatever, go with it.

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DSC_0038-2 My IDEAS. Dontcha be stealing ‘em now.

The “Wet Bar Wall.” I’m sure this was intended for entertaining, but I’m using it as an extension for more for crafting. I’m reeeaaaally putting pressure on myself to start creating stuff, aren’t I?


Ikea magazine rack holds construction paper and coloring books. The boxes (the blue and orange of which I won at Bunco) and basket hold beads, stickers and Play-doh. Again, I use a utensil caddy (Target) for Anderson’s art supplies. Clearly I think this idea is genius and I have Allison to thank for it. Can you tell by now I love to spell words with wooden blocks? The blue “seasons tree” is my favorite preschool project of the year.


DSC_0021How about these plants in a wagon? These are LIVE plants people. I do not have my husband’s green thumb. I kill. But somehow, for a whole month now, I’ve managed to keep these alive. Hooray! I got the vintage wagon at a yard sale for a few bucks. I got the fabulous idea to use it as a plant holder from Mindy. I am not good at having original or amazing ideas. I am, however, very good at stealing original or amazing ideas. To Mindy, Mom, Robyn, Cheryl & Ali: look what you’ve done! My basement is fabulous and I thank you!


Because you know I didn’t consider myself done with the basement until these bad boys were organized, here’s a look inside:

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Yes, you are beholding a cupboard dedicated entirely to carding, wrapping, gifting and shipping. (Wrapping paper stored separately.)

Why hello there under the stairs storage. I love you. We’ve NEVER had you. Makes sense seeing as we’ve never had stairs. You complete me. Love, OCD.

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Those two bags on the second shelf are my church bags. Stake bag (I serve in the stake these days), ward bag. Ready to grab, along with that striped cloth Activity Book hanging on the right, and go every week.

So there it is. My fabulous basement! I am 100% happy with the way it turned out. It was worth the almost full year it took to complete it. I should mention the rest of our basement includes a half bathroom, big laundry room/storage area with more built-in shelving (!!!) and built-in peg board, and water closet with even more storage space. Saying we LOVE it down here doesn’t quite cover it. We LIVE down here, especially in the summer when you cool down by half a degree with each descending step. I’ve held back on beating that dead horse the whole post, but I know some of you are waiting for it, so it’s time I declare again: WE LOVE OUR DREAM TOWNHOUSE!



More Tour de Jour here.


Crystal said...

Awesome! I can't decide what is more awesome though. The basement, or the two days of free stuff. Sleeping in until 11.... that may just put the two days in the winning slot.
We finished our basement in the Spring. I have been meaning to do our post about it, but I never clean it to take pictures. That is what is so great about a basement. it is a wreck and it is most likely going to always be.

Szobonya Bercel said...

Wow, you did a great job! Love that basement, can I have it?????? :)
2 and a half days alone? I mean ALONE?? You're one lucky girl for sure... :)

Ming said...

Hello fabulous post, you complete me. Love, everyone reading this post.

Everything turned out SO cute! Love love love. This REALLY makes me want to visit you. Darn kids costing money. ;)

Thanks for all the shout outs..totally unnecessary, but appreciated. Bless face time.

The organization of the cupboards and under the stairs is SERIOUSLY impressive. I envy your wrapping cupboards especially.

The paint makes all the difference in the world. The whole basement looks like a new wonderful place against the grey.

Those large frames on the art wall hold the most adorable pics of your children I think I've ever seen. I never knew Anderson had a dimple until I saw that pic. So precious. Love that idea and so happy it worked out so perfectly.

Again, everything really came together and looks fabulous! Nice work my friend.

Mom said...

WOW it all looks so organized, playful and well thought out not to mention creative and I know you did so much on a careful and creative budget. That's sometimes the best part, seeing what you can do without spending much money. I am so proud of your budding decorating skills. It makes me think back to our play room on Camino Way.

By the way............what is eyebrow weaving?

Anonymous said...

Wendy - you are so inspiring! Awesome basement! Now I have ideas for my basement - Thanks!

Kate said...

Wow... can you come to my house and organize for me? I'll pay you... not joking. I just love how you get things done! Takes me forever to decide what I want to do. Your townhouse sounds super dreamy! And looks amazing too. Wish my backyard was fenced... Lucky!

Rachel said...

Everytime I read your blog I think over and over "I am in love with Wendy King!" Can't wait to see your blog. You are cool.

Ryan and Cheryl Harris said...

It looks fantastic Wendy. Such a fun play area. I want to bring my boys over again to play!!

Kara said...

I LOOOOVE your new basement! So excited it came together perfectly. The color choice is amazing- love it. Do you know my dining room wall with the three family pictures (12x12) is on styrofoam with ribbon on the sides- I love it! Genius alternative to canvas.

Can't wait to see it in person!

anna banana said...

You are so fabulous! I cant barley stand it. I love the basement, it looks so gorgeous and perfect and ideal for play, creating and all things really.

Time home alone is for sure a dream vacation for me. Congrats on having it!

Cannot wait for next week!

Alex and Katie said...

LOVED it. So talented. I want to see it in person. I guess it's time for a visit.

Joo Lin said...

You are absolutely amazing! i am going to borrow some of your ideas, without any hope of being half as cool :)

I think it's great that you can do all that without spending a fortune!