vintage victorian basement renovation

Vintage Victorian Basement Renovation

Join us for this vintage Victorian basement renovation as we transform it from dark and dreary to bright and beautiful including an exercise room and a craft room! 

If you missed the Victorian Before Tour Part 1 and Part 2, then be sure to check them out!  As is typical of old Victorian homes, ours dated to 1890, the original basement appeared to be more dungeon-like than anything.

Let’s head down to the basement.

First room at the front of the house. Creepy right? Are those blood stains on the floor??

To the left of this room through the squeaky old door was another room in the front.

Notice the mummy-style wrapped pipes. Those are covering a lovely little carcinogen called asbestos. When covered it is not harmful as the powdery spores are contained. Needless to say our children were not allowed in this room. This may have been the worst project of the house. Picture the ghost busters meet an exterminator with red hazardous materials bags, and you’ve got Zach and me descending to the asbestos dungeon for removal.

vintage victorian basement renovation

Safe removal of asbestos is crucial. Do not attempt without following appropriate safety precautions.

Now to the back of the house.

This room and the next were directly under the kitchen and the bathroom. There was a door that led out of this room into the back yard with a large window that provided tons of natural light. For 40 years the saint of a woman who was the previous owner did her laundry here. With water hookup and electric already here, large window looking out to the back, and a walk out basement door – the possibilities were exciting. This room almost killed me.

 

This is the other wall of the walkout room. The door to the backyard is on my right and the door to the rest of the basement is on my left. Through this door was another little room pictured below.

 

 

Vintage Victorian Basement Renovation

Exercise Room

 

Ok so back to the room in the front of the house.  In the far left corner originally sat a massive oil tank as the heat was run on oil.  We replaced the oil heat with gas, and Zach and “his boys” carried it out the back door.  The guy that actually installed our gas furnace then took the oil tank and sold it as apparently there are still a lot of people out there who need huge old oil tanks!  As I mentioned we got rid of all asbestos and wrapped the pipes with a black foam that is split down the middle.

It was surprisingly dry in this basement.  Zach and I commented many times how amazed we were that we never saw water.  Not even a little.  They knew how to waterproof basements in 1890.  Check out that stone foundation.  Don’t you wish we mastered that craftsmanship in our day to day lives now?  Technology has given us so many wonderful advancements (checkout my ringing endorsement for the Superior Wall System in our Colonial foreclosure basement renovation) but there is something raw and organic about 12 inch thick stone walls that makes my vintage loving heart happy.

Vintage Victorian Basement Renovation

Exercise Room Ceiling

In this room, starting from the top, we added a PVC bead board  to the joists in the ceiling. Using a brad nailer, we nailed the planks to the wood joists in the ceiling and then tapped the tongue and groove together.  It brightened the room up considerably without requiring any paint or drywall.  The pvc bead board is also an excellent choice for basements as you do not need to be concerned about mold or mildew.  We also added a couple canned lights to brighten it up.

Vintage Victorian Basement Renovation

Exercise Room Walls

For the walls, I took a heavy duty outdoor  broom and brushed down all the stone.  This will pull out the loosest of the dirt and then I simply swept it off the floors. I took a paint sprayer and applied a waterproof stone color enhancer and sealer.  I like the ones that give a light sheen to the walls without making them look overtly glossy.  This also helps to lock in the dirt and dust that remain and give the walls a smooth touch.  I have used this technique with great success, and it makes an other wise dirty room feel clean and usable without covering the beauty of the natural stone.  On the far wall I used a chalk board paint and heavily painted the brick as it did not match the rest of the stone anyway and then used it to write a workout on.  As a side note, anytime you are needing to paint a very rough uneven surface make sure you use the right brush.  Do not bother to buy a small brush with fine bristles.  You are wasting your time and money.   Buy a large heavy duty paint brush or a thick roller to lather it on.  If you want perfect lines that are smooth and without drips or ridges, then you may have embarked on the wrong project!  You want to make sure it gets in the cracks as older homes will be missing grout, have uneven surfaces etc which is part of the character.  Embrace it!

Vintage Victorian Basement Renovation

Exercise Room Floor

Lastly, I used a concrete floor paint with Rustoleum’s decorative paint chips to give it a finished appearance.  I have used this technique on our front porches, front walk ways and several concrete floors with success.  You simply start in the farthest corner of the room, using a paint roller, roll 2×2 foot section of the floor with the concrete paint and then sprinkle the chips over the wet surface.  Continue until you have done the whole floor.  The chips dry into the paint and gives it a nice terrazzo-like finish and hides the dirt.  One bag will go a long way!  I think I did 4 or 5 projects with one bag of chips.

Vintage Victorian Basement Renovation

Exercise Room Before and After

Before.

vintage victorian basement renovation

And after!

vintage victorian basement renovation

I used an old door that led to a different room in the basement and anchored it to the ceiling and the floor to create an “entertainment center” for the tv and dvd player.

vintage victorian basement renovation

 

 

Vintage Victorian Basement Renovation

Craft Room

Now back to the old laundry room.

vintage victorian basement renovation

vintage victorian basement renovation

The buyers told us that this room and the kitchen sold the house for them.  Believe it or not.  Many of the couples that would walk through came out the basement doors and the woman would comment on how much she loved the little craft room.  I do not flip houses for a living, but the few I have done I have discovered that if done well, the basement can make or break a house.  I think part of this is because it often tends to be the last thing you walk through, and especially in an older home, is rarely considered an asset.  Everyone seemed to be quite surprised to find the exercise room and the craft room in the basement of a 130 year old Victorian home.

It’s a good thing too because this room almost killed me.

Vintage Victorian Basement Renovation

Craft Room Walls

vintage victorian basement renovation

See that pressure washer on the floor?  Well, it was the dead of winter, but I had my mind set on getting the craft room started.  For good or for bad, my determination can sometimes overcome my better judgement and despite temperatures in the 30s I borrowed my grandfather’s pressure washer and set out to strip as much of the crumbling plaster as I could to reveal more of the stone and brick.  After several hours of wet plaster chips flying in my face and my clothing literally stiff because it was frozen to my body, I called it a day.  The short lived experience of hypothermia was worth it. I used the same product I mentioned above and sprayed on a stone sealer and enhancer on the walls, and the rich colors of the stone and brick peaking through the white washed plaster was truly vintage beautiful.

Vintage Victorian Basement Renovation

Craft Room Ceiling

The ceiling was very low in this room, so all I did to make it feel liveable was to add a piece of quarter round inside each joist, paint the quarter round and the bottom of the joist and then I slide a ceiling tile cut to size along the inside.  It hid all the plumbing and gave the room a much more finished appearance.

 

Vintage Victorian Basement Renovation

Craft Room Floor

I did the same thing to the floor as I did to the exercise room. Concrete paint and Rustoleum’s decorative paint chips (see above for links) and voila!  Finished concrete floor!

We moved the kitchen sink and the very little cabinetry that was in the kitchen (if you missed the Vintage Victorian DIY Kitchen Renovation on a Budget read it here!) and moved it to the craft room. Thankfully there was already electric and plumbing as it was the old laundry room so cost was minimal.

 

Vintage Victorian Basement Renovation

Craft Room Before and After

Before.

vintage victorian basement renovation

And after!

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Before.

vintage victorian basement renovation

And after!

vintage victorian basement renovation

I don’t have a picture of the wall to the right of us when looking at this picture but it had a large window that looked to the backyard with a walkout door.  You can see the view of the wall from the outside below.  You never know which room will “sell” a house, but I’m glad this one did!

vintage victorian basement renovation

 

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