One Room Challenge

Before and After: A $2,500 DIY Redo Turns a Dingy Basement into a Bright Yet Cozy Hangout

published Jul 22, 2022
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About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Living Room
Office & Dens
Mid-century Modern
Organic Modern
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
Before: red brick fireplace
Credit: Pam Goulden

It’s a common thing to have a “catchall room,” as homeowner Pam Goulden (@mypracticehome) calls it, where the door stays closed, everything could use a bit of sprucing up, and seemingly random items find a home.

Credit: Pam Goulden

“Before, we would never take anyone downstairs,” Pam says of her family’s “catchall room,” the basement hangout space. “It was dark and dingy and we rarely went down there.” She decided to change it entirely during the Spring 2022 One Room Challenge, aiming to refresh the walls, revamp the ledge by the stairs, overhaul the brick fireplace surround, and figure out something for the beat-up ottoman. In short, the goal was to turn the room into one people actually wanted to spend time in.

Credit: Pam Goulden

“I did the work myself with simple cosmetic updates,” Pam says. She gave the walls a board-and-batten treatment in white, painted the upper walls gray-green (Behr’s Pine Cone Hill), and coated the fireplace and its brick background in black (BeautiTone’s Black Licorice).

Credit: Pam Goulden

Pam also added a DIY slat wall behind her TV using pre-cut 1 x 2 x 6 pine, which she treated with wood stain and installed using a nail gun. “If you are looking for a straightforward accent wall, I would highly recommend going this route!” Pam writes on Instagram. She also wrote that the wood slats make the room feel “like more than a rectangular box” and help to draw the eye upward, even though the room has relatively low ceilings.

Credit: Pam Goulden

For extra coziness — crucial in a basement — Pam bought woven window treatments, a new sofa, and a textured rug, but she kept her old ottoman and gave it a stylish DIY makeover. “This thing was ready for the dump, and now it is such a focal point of the room,” she says. “I have never tried reupholstering furniture before but I was so pleased with how it turned out.”

Pam also built the overarching wooden table above the ottoman, which she says “really elevated the look and made it so modern.” Besides the appearance, though, this new piece is functional: “It allows a nice surface for snacks and drinks but also doesn’t take away a place to put your feet,” Pam says.

Credit: Pam Goulden

Because Pam’s only new purchases were the DIY materials, sofa, and rug, she was able to keep costs relatively low at $2,500 total. “There were not real setbacks, but as a mom and full-time teacher, it took a few months to complete!” Pam says. “One step at a time!”

Pam says her new space is not only brighter and more modern-looking but also cozier, which means that it’s gone from a place to avoid to a place the family gathers. “This is a place we love to go now, and is also a space we can entertain in,” she says. “Now I want to show it off!”

This project was completed for the Spring 2022 One Room Challenge, in partnership with Apartment Therapy. See even more of the One Room Challenge before and afters here.