Virtual House Tour: The Basement

Over the course of the two-plus years since I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve shared “virtual tours” of almost every part of our house — the outside, the main level, the attic — but somehow never got around to blogging about the basement. Which is kind of odd since compared to the attic, that abandoned space we’ve entered maybe twice in the past year, we use the basement all the time for laundry and such.

So for today’s post, I hope to finally remedy this, and present you with the final installment of the “virtual house tour” blog series! Below is the floor plan for our basement:

Basement Floor Plan

This should be pretty close to scale, based on actual measurements we took. You may notice a few interesting things right off the bat, including two whole rooms I’ve never blogged about, a rather awkward laundry arrangement, and various load-bearing columns and pipes (represented as the black dots on the floor plan above).

That door on the right side of the floor plan leads directly outside — a view of that stairwell can be seen in the outside installment of the virtual house tour. Here is a view of the basement, taken from somewhere over by that door:

Unfinished Basement

As you can see it definitely looks like a basement — the previous owners had put up yellowish paneling on the walls, so it’s not just bare brick, but other than that it’s completely unfinished. (Note: the above photo was taken just after we bought the house, and while the basement looks pretty much the same now, it has admittedly collected more junk.)

The laundry situation is a bit awkward — rather than having a washer and dryer in close proximity, the washing machine sits by itself under the stairs, and the dryer is over in the corner with a random non-functional stove:

Dryer And Stove

(Darn it stove, you are drunk. Get out of that laundry nook.)

The washer in particular is on the old side, and has a really low capacity as far as how much clothing it can wash at a time, but during our 2+ years of living here we haven’t done anything (yet) to upgrade either the appliances or the layout. It would be great to set up a nicer laundry room down the road though.

Moving on to those two random little rooms. The one on the far end of the basement we call the “workshop” because it has a work bench, pegs on the wall, and various tools and scraps of wood that were left behind by the previous owners:

Basement Workshop

And over on one wall are a bunch of shelves that the previous owners had filled with coffee jars full of carefully organized screws and nails:

Nails In Coffee Jars

Aside from occasionally raiding those jars as needed for projects around the house, though, I admittedly haven’t done much in the workshop, and it looks pretty much the same now as it did when we moved in. (For some reason I’m always afraid spiders will get me if I go in there.)

Moving on to the storage room — here’s a photo of it with what I’m pretty sure is all the original junk from when we moved in:

Basement Storage Room

Several interesting things to note in the above photo:

  1. The slanty wall on the far side — this little room is directly under the front door, so there’s space carved out of it to allow for the six steps up from the ground to the main level of the house.
  2. The rabbit cage — there’s no light in this little storage room, so I didn’t notice this was in there until I took this picture and the flash went off.
  3. The window. This one is huge, and I somehow didn’t realize it until literally a week ago, but there’s a window in here. (In retrospect this should have been obvious, since it’s like three feet to the right of our front door, but somehow I never thought about what that should line up with in the basement.) In all fairness, the previous owners duct-taped a sheet over it and then propped a metal spring mattress against it, so it was easy to miss.

That’s about all there is to say about the storage room at the moment — it seems like it has a lot of potential (especially with the window and all) but for the moment it’s just a big glorified closet in a house that has way too few closets.

Anyway, that’s the long-overdue tour of our basement! I know it’s not much to look at at the moment. I was partially inspired to (finally) write this post because lately we’ve been talking about the possibility of fixing it up to make some actual living space down there — which on the one hand would be really nice, but on the other hand feels a bit risky since we did get some seepage down there during that flooding that hit Chicago last year, and any renovation plan would definitely require measures to reduce/mitigate the possibility of future flooding as much as possible.

What do you think about basement renovations in general? What would you suggest to do to this particular basement given the overall layout and the various load-bearing columns scattered about? Feel free to share any thoughts in the comments!

6 Comments

  1. Well obviously you should start raising rabbits, you have a cage already! ;) Seriously though, you might want to get a rolling laundry-folding table to put between the dryer and washer, if neither one can be moved due to water supply and 220 hookup. If one or the other CAN be moved, I’d do so. Is the stove just stored, or is it not working due to needing fixing? If it would work with suitable hookup, you might want to outfit the basement as extra living area. Maybe paint the walls with marine paint to seal out seepage, and use it as a party room. Reminds me of my grandparents’ basement, which they used for parties, the “rec” room, a woodworking shop, and extra guest sleeping on a pullout couch.

    • Haha, gotta use that rabbit cage for something! ;) The stove doesn’t work as far as we know, though we admittedly haven’t looked into whether it might be usable — it just seems so old and battered that we’ve been figuring we just need to eventually get rid of it. I agree that it would be really nice to move the washer and dryer together, maybe by moving the washer over to where the stove is currently (though that would require a water hookup which isn’t there at the moment). Thanks for reading and commenting! :)

  2. Oh, it’s really nice! Didn’t know there was so much light down there! Not a dark, dank basement at all! Take out the old paneling, check into the various ways to seal the walls. Once that’s done, you’ll have lots of fun looking at pictures and thinking about what fits you needs and style (with ideas from us, too! LOL)

    Thanks for sharing this with us. It’s a comfort to know what and how you all are doing!

    • That’s true, the basement actually does get a fair amount of light from the windows, since it’s only half a story down instead of being fully underground (and it would get even more light if those windows were all actually clear rather than having sheets duct-taped over them, haha). Looking into a solution for the seepage problem sounds like a good first step, followed by the fun part of considering what to do with the space. Thanks for reading and commenting! :)

  3. And after getting the walls sealed, probably the next thing is to look into the plumbing situation. You definitely want to have the washer and dryer together, and it would probably be a good idea to have a small bathroom down there. Wiring for the dryer is important, too. Then decide whether you want a recreation area, bedroom, workshop, kitchen, or whatever. Make a list of things you wish you could do, or need to do, if you had more space. Have fun!

  4. Hey Sarah, check at Home Depot or Lowes, (or whoever you have there like them). Seems to me they used to carry a sealant for concrete block basements that was applied essentially like paint. May work for brick as well.

    You may just want to work on it based on the assumption that it may get wet from time to time, think indoor/outdoor carpet and patio furniture.

    I would think it’s fairly cool down there being partially buried, might make a great play room for Lily and some friends!

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