Saturday, March 31, 2012

Craft Room Update #1 - Plus Bonus: Get Fit on a Budget

If you missed previous craft room updates, the links to all are at the bottom of this post.  

First a little history on our basement.  Eight years ago, my husband dug out our basement.  It had a thin layer of cement over dirt, which was mostly dirt after nearly 100 years.  It's what we call a Michigan basement around here.  Underneath were tons of field stones.  He hauled most of that out by himself.

There are two large hills down by the pond created of rocks from our basement.  Then came the boulder.  It was so big he had to drag it out of the basement door with a tractor.  He didn't think it would even go through the door, but it did thank goodness!  After that back breaking work,  he then dug another 6 inches or so of dirt out under that.  It. Was. A. Job!  His brother helped at the end with some of it.  I have pictures of some of the process somewhere, but it would take a month of Sundays to find them and I'm too pooped right now to try.

After that huge job, he laid drainage tiles throughout the basement, brought in tons of gravel, and finally we had a mason friend pour a proper cement floor.  We did all this because the year before, during several days of torrential rain, our basement filled with water about a foot deep.  The old tile system had plugged and couldn't keep up with that much water.

I had to give you that history to give due credit to my amazing hubby.  He busted his chops on that basement. If he hadn't, there would be no way I could create a craft room down there now. Now comes my part in this transformation.

In my best Gomer Pyle voice:  "It's uuuuuugly".  I've been doing all the grunt work that has to come before the 'purty' stuff.

These two pictures sort of give you an idea of the size of the space I'm working with...and how much work I have to do!  It will be about 14' by 10' finished.  I'm hoping to take this dark, spooky corner of the basement and turn it into a light, cozy, cottage style room that I will actually want to be in.  Think I can do it???

Because there is little room to work in the basement, I was so excited that the weather was very warm a couple of weeks ago, allowing me to work in the barn.  I worked like a fiend priming and painting cabinet pieces for my craft room.  Everything has to be primed and painted twice each. That's 19 boards per cabinet x2.  That's a lot of painting my friends, and that's just two cabinets.  I have at least two other cabinets to build in this room, possibly 3 more.  I really want to have this room done by the end of April, but don't hold your breath!

Get fit tip #1:  Firm up flabby arms by priming, painting and lifting heavy MDF boards 4 times each. That's 38 boards 4 times each, or 152 lifts plus about 1 million reps with a paint roller.

I'm actually using pieces that were intended for two cabinets in the office, but decided to use them in my craft room instead.  Ken can always cut more boards at work for me.  Please don't hate me :)

Sorry for the poor pictures.  It's hard to take good pictures in the barn.  Since this photo was taken, I'm learning to use my camera's features a little.  The night time setting helps with low light situations. Hopefully my photos will improve!

This week temperatures were back down into the 40's and freezing at night, so the painting came to a temporary halt.  Switching gears, I started on the basement walls.  First we had to figure out what we were going to do.  This old farmhouse has two foot thick poured cement walls filled with field stone.  It was built over 100 years ago, and except for some minor cracks, it's as solid as the day it was poured.

I brushed these walls very thoroughly to get centuries old dust off of them, while holding the hose of our shop vac under the brush so I didn't inhale it.

Get Fit Tip #2:  Grasp a stiff bristle brush very firmly and go over every inch of your basement walls (well at least 25 feet of them) multiple times for an exhausting upper body and arm workout.  To improve coordination and dexterity, maneuver a vacuum hose at the same time, while trying not to trip over the vacuum cord.  

The walls are very rough, with large craters where rocks left air holes.  Although we don't have any major leaks, there is one corner that is always a little damp (there used to be a well under our basement, and we have a flowing well down by the pond).

I think this is where Saddam Hussein was hiding...scary!

Based on the salesman's advice at Home Depot, we bought these two products to fill holes and waterproof the walls.  The top container is Drylok Fast Plug hydraulic cement. It was $7.25 for the smallest bucket. It is a dry powder that you mix with water.  Be very careful.  It has all kinds of scary warnings on it.  You don't want to breath the dust.  I mixed it outside, with a mask on, upwind.    I also wore rubber gloves and glasses, then raced back into the house and down the stairs to get it applied before it hardened.   It drys in 3 to 5 minutes, so you can only mix a little at a time.  

Get Fit Tip #3:  Based on the number of times I went up and down the stairs...well lets just say I don't need a fancy butt working machine.  I think one could bounce a coin of my tush after that workout!

Here's proof of my workout - a patched hole.  

I found that the little bucket of Fast Plug didn't go very far, with the craters I had to fill.  It would be fine for smaller cracks, but not economical for our purposes.  After asking our mason friend, he suggested buying a bag each of mortar mix and regular concrete, adding 3 coffee cans of concrete to the bag of mortar mix and then adding water.  So Sunday after church we will be making another Home Depot stop.

I wish I had pretty pictures to show you.  I will eventually.  After the walls get patched, I will be painting the Drylok waterproofer on the walls.  It's why I have to fill the craters.  I can't get a good seal otherwise.  Then it will be on to framing out the walls and running electrical for outlets.  Oh joy!

If you don't hear from me in a couple weeks, send out the search party.  The boogie man might have got me.

Basement Craft Room - Humble Beginnings
An Entertaining Sewing Center
Craft Room Dreaming
Craft Room Update #1 - Prepping the Walls
Craft Room Update #2 - White Walls
Craft Room Update #3 - Framing the Walls
Craft Room Update #4 - The Floors


  1. What amazing progress you have made so far! I can't wait to see everything when you are finished! You are truly blessed.

    Have a wonderful weekend.

  2. This is incredible! Oh how I would love to have another foot or two in my basement. I don't think my neighbors would tolerate it very well! Good luck with the rest. Glad you mentioned the filler product. I have a couple of spots I need to fill and now I know what to use.

  3. You cracked me up with your workout! Good luck with the process. It does look like the hardest part is over! Now I feel bad about only having to remove wallpaper off one wall before painting my craft room! :)

  4. Whew! I am tired just reading this!! Can you do this? I have no doubt what so ever! I can't wait to see how it turns out. I saw a basement in a pic that showed bricks painted to be exposed thru the paint, like the paint and mortar was peeling away from brick. Just a thought.Ummmm. It's always great when the husband can see your vision and helps. Hurry and finish so we can see! Hugs, Lynn

  5. You are inspiring me. My craft room is in the basement too. Right now it is just thrown together, but you are making me want to make it a cozy cottage spot. I love the floor that I saw on the one pic. I can't wait to see the progress. Thanks for visiting Homespun Happenings and becoming a follower. I am now your newest follower.

  6. You have done a great job and thanks for sharing these wonderful tips which are inexpensive and practical! Thanks so much for your lovely comment on my blog. Have a fun filled day!

  7. Wow you guys have been busy! I can't wait to see how it will turn out, I'm sure you will make it beautiful! :-)

  8. So I just found a wonderful craft table at pottery barn , and then found a pin on pinterest on how to make it:) if you want to follow me on there e link is under dream home. Also, the table has plenty of storage and I think would replace some of your existing furniture. It would give the room a nice flow:)

    2 shelf utility cart


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