The time comes to finish the basement

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.

~Ecclesiastes 3:1
The basement in all its “before” glory (and grime).

Wack to burk.

When we purchased the old Methodist church to turn into our home, the basement was scary.

Most unfinished basements stoke trepidation in those who visit, but this one had the added horrors of ongoing water problems and asbestos floor tiles. The only things it had going for it were that it had the building’s operational toilet, itself a tribute to the unclean, and the potential for a high ceiling. During demolition, we removed the moldy suspended ceiling and the antique tin ceiling above it, leaving us with at least nine feet of clearance in most areas and lots of sunny windows, impressive for a basement.

The basement bathroom was practically spa-like.

During demolition back in early 2018, we also removed the kitchen cabinets and pass-through and created a new doorway to the bathroom, though we still don’t have an actual door. Meanwhile, the furnace room got an impressive makeover. We had big plans back then for the basement.

The basement served as a staging area during renovation upstairs.

As we renovated the main floor and second story, the basement served us well, providing a place to paint, hammer, assemble and store stuff (mainly tools). As the renovation dragged on, our enthusiasm for tackling the basement waned. When we held an open house for the community to show off our work upstairs, the basement was mostly off limits.

But the Summer of 2021 holds promise for ye olde basement of the Methodist church. We have energy! Enthusiasm! Ideas! By gosh and by golly, we’re gonna finish the basement this summer!

The basement as a clean slate.

Here’s how it looks right now. The kitchen–gone. The paneling–gone. The suspended ceiling is long gone. Plumbing and shiny new duct work has been run throughout. (The photo does not show all the Christmas decorations I have stashed down there, which my husband will soon discover and about which he will probably raise his voice. Dagnabit, Monica! Why is all this stuff down here?! You have 10 minutes to get this stuff out of my way and back in the attic. Only he won’t say “dagnabit” or “stuff.”)

We plan to create a mother-in-law’s apartment down there with its own egress plus a few extra bedrooms for our guests. And we have every intention of doing it on the cheap, incorporating our design principle of “recycle, reuse, repurpose whenever possible.” We already have a massive set of second-hand kitchen cabinets and a lot doors, leftover from the reno upstairs. Plus a toilet! Don’t forget the toilet!

That plumbing and shiny ductwork present the biggest challenge. How do we cover it up without sacrificing headroom? I can’t tell you how many YouTube videos and HGTV shows my husband has unearthed in the past 18 months to help us solve this problem. We could just paint everything on the ceiling black (or white), but that approach doesn’t give us any sound-proofing between floors. Like I mentioned, we have ideas, and you’re certain to hear more about this dilemma in future installments.

Speaking of future installments, if you’re not already a subscriber, by all means, subscribe now! Enter your email address in the right-hand column over there (if you’re reading this on your phone, click on those three lines on the upper left corner, then click on “contact” and scroll to the very bottom–fill in your email there).

A time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to rend, and a time to sew.

~Ecclesiastes 3:6b-7a

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Catch up on what we’ve accomplished so far in our church conversation. Based in part on this blog, Church Sweet Home: A Renovation to Warm the Soul is the true story of how my husband I transformed a 126-year-old Methodist church into our dream home. It came out in 2020.

Find it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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