Tuesday, February 21, 2012

40th Birthday Basement Makeover

As David's 40th birthday was approaching I was struggling with what to get him. I originally thought about having a really fun party with friends, or going somewhere for the weekend -- both things he would love -- but then I found out that he'd be traveling for work on the days leading up to his birthday and on his actual birthday. Bummer! I really wanted to do something memorable for him because he is all kinds of awesome and it's a really big birthday -- and I didn't want something that would really underscore the whole "middle age" thing, like a tie or a Churchill biography (although that's what he's always gotten from me for his birthday, even back in his 20s!!) As I pondered various options, I scanned our {wild} household and thought that the one thing David really needs is a place to escape. So I started thinking about some form of a man cave.

This is the blog post that originally inspired me to do this project:


This blogger took IKEA Billy Bookcases and trimmed them out to create the look of built ins. I thought that that would work perfectly in our basement because it's a very rectangular room and I thought that wall to wall bookshelves would work nicely on the short wall at one end of the room. I started playing around on the IKEA Billy planner and emailing with my dad to see if he thought this was the kind of thing we could pull off. He did and agreed to help me with the project.

Here is the basement before:

My plan was to build wall to wall shelves with a TV stand in the center; switch out the doors with french doors we had sitting in our storage room from another project and change the hinges so that they didn't open into the main room; swap the old tube TV for a flat screen, and get better/more comfortable seating in that area. But as I kept playing with various Billy components I just couldn't get them to fit right - they were either too short or too long for our wall, and the trim job that would be required would end up being greater than what we were competent to do. I knew I was going to stick with IKEA products because I was doing this on the cheap. And then I found Hemnes:

When I took the wall measurements again and added up the dimensions for two large Hemnes shelves, two small Hemnes shelves, and the Hemnes TV stand, I had a "Cinderella tries on glass slipper" moment -- they would fit perfectly on our wall (well, at least once the baseboard and chair rail was ripped off -- minor detail!) So Hemnes it was.

As I explained to David on the night of his birthday, this project was a function of motive and opportunity -- the motive was to get him a non-old man present that he would really love for this milestone birthday, and the opportunity was afforded by his travel schedule in the weeks leading up to his birthday. A couple of weeks before the big day he had to go out of town for the night, so my parents and I took the 2.5 hour drive to IKEA in Atlanta to gather supplies while David's parents spent the day shuttling the kids from school to their numerous activities. I can ramble on and on about the day in Atlanta but seeing as I'm already rambling on about everything else, I will attempt to summarize. Get to IKEA. Find shelves. Buy shelves. Buy sofa. Go to set up delivery of sofa. Learn that sofa will not arrive in time. Cry at home delivery counter. Take break to regroup and eat Swedish meatballs. Drag frightened parents who know better than to try to talk me out of it in my fragile emotional state around greater metro Atlanta area looking for u-haul to bring sectional back to Alabama. Procure u-haul. Load sofa into u-haul. Caravan home (mom and I carrying shelves in minivan, Dad carrying sofa in u-haul). Here are my {heroic} parents outside of IKEA:

We got back home well after dinner and moved all of the boxes into David's parents' basement:

Where they remained until David took off for a conference two days before his birthday.

David's dad and my dad spent basically one full day putting together the cabinets. I truly could not have done this project without their help. They are the best (and in fact may consider marketing their services outside of IKEA - I'd hire them in a heartbeat!):

Miraculously, there was no split wood or missing parts, a "furniture in a box" first for me, and it could not have come at a better time.

The dads also had to take down trim, cut off molding, etc. in order to get the cabinets to fit between the two walls. They rocked it!

The next day David Beckham, a non-soccer playing handyman who's done a lot of projects for us over the years, came to hang the french doors and had some great ideas about adding a couple of strips of trim to the sides of the shelves to make them look really built in. He did that minor trim work for us while the dads worked on bolting the cabinets to the wall, replacing the quarter round, etc. And then we finally got to start putting the room together.

Aaaaaaaand . . . . the after:

For direct comparison's sake, here is the before:

And the after:

It looks a little different.

Better view of the seating area:

I got the Ektorp sectional, and while I'm a bit suspicious of some-assembly-required sofas, I'm happy with the quality of the sofa so far, and the washable slipcovers are a definite plus. We'll see how it holds up, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

I went with some vintage sports prints for behind the sofa. I wanted something masculine but not overtly "fraternity house basement" that David would think was interesting. I originally looked for official World Cup posters, which are really beautiful (shadow mullet poster from Mexico '86 excepted). I did extensive searches, but could not find any available for purchase (other than on the Japanese black market). FIFA is clearly not run by Americans. So I ended up going with a Kentucky Derby print, a cycling print and a soccer print (David is a fan of all three sports). I like them. But I still kind of had my heart set on the World Cup posters, and since David's return flight home was delayed, I was able to modge podge some smaller photos I printed out of the world cup designs onto canvas and hang that on another wall.

I kind of did a sloppy job because I was modge podgeing under pressure, and we all know how THAT goes, but David seems to really like the poster.

From this angle behind the sofa you can see part of the poster, as well as the new-to-this-room french doors to the office room:

The fact that the doors now swing into the office rather than into main basement living area makes the main room feel much larger.

I didn't want to "style" the shelves per se because nothing says NOT A MANLY RETREAT quite like a wall of bookshelves styled by the wife, but I did try to load them up with stuff that would have meaning to David. The alma mater is well represented:

Honeymoon photo by which to remember our lost youth:

Photo of David and his brother at a World Cup game in Germany in 2006 and a sign I painted to help explain what I did while he was gone:

David wasn't going to get home until late in the evening on his birthday, and his brother and our friend Alan came over earlier in the day to hook up electronics.

I seriously would not have been able to do anything more than open the electronics boxes if it weren't for these two. I could never in a million years have done this project without the help of so many people.

David had a horrendous day of traveling and got home really late on the night of his birthday. I made up some lame excuse about having a painting project blocking his side of the garage and asked him to park in the driveway instead (because if he came through the garage he would have noticed that something was different in the basement). We chatted about his trip and then he started asking me about what I was painting. I decided that it was time to show him the basement. He was completely surprised and really seems to love it. He said that what he likes most about it is that it's a room we will all enjoy -- see, he's the best. And as it turns out he may have indeed gained a man cave, although the cave may actually be in our family room, since the kids have taken over the basement since it's been finished. In any event, I think the project was a big success all around. I hope that David can retreat there on occasion and enjoy some peace, solitude and high definition football games. Happy birthday, David!


Jessica said...

This is so utterly impressive! If only I had my own handy dad/father in law...unfortunately I went 0 for 2 in that department. The basement is incredible. And you've given me an idea for my own impossible-to-shop-for, soccer-loving husband with those posters.

I found your "other" blog while wondering what Cathy the Tortefeasor was up to...clearly you have been busy!

Mom to 3 C's said...

Really nice job... and some awesome parents and in-laws!

Pamela said...

What a great post! You did an amazing job and are blessed to have so many helpers to get it all come together for you. Those shelves look incredible!! I gotta look into Ikea!

Lady Baker said...

Happpy Bday David! The room looks so inviting!! Love the colors..love the posters...I just wanna flop down on that couch, hang out and share a beer and a game! :)
What's up for 50th..wet bar perhaps!

Nancy/n.o.e said...

I totally forgot about this "other" blog, and now I'm glad I found it again because I can get my "Cathy dose" without having the constraints of a structured food group to get in the way! I love the man cave, you did an amazing job, with of course all the right help. I about died at the summary of your day in Atlanta. I wish you'd called me - I have several U-Haul recommendations. And a pickup truck of my very own! And really, don't you know the perils of pressurized mod-podging? Love it all, the "after" is amazing.

Colleen said...

this looks so nice!!! I'm so impressed you did all of it without him knowing. it looks so good!

the cape on the corner said...

oh my gosh, what a fabulous after!

Calypso In The Country said...

This is one of my favorite basement make-overs! I love the colors, the furniture - everything! Great job! Oh...and I have stayed at Caneel Bay before too! Fabulous place!

Vel Criste said...

Excellent job! A man cave with a feminine touch!

Paige said...

Wow! I can't believe you did that while he was gone. What a surprise! Those shelves look GREAT!