The Remodel Expands…Again

As you know we’re in the middle of our master bedroom, master bathroom, and main bathroom remodel and to re-route the plumbing and ductwork we decided to take up the floor. While we were tearing up the floor I half-jokingly suggested that we should redo the basement lighting while we were at it. If I remember right Flannel Man’s exact reaction was, “Woman why do you have to make everything so difficult?!” But the longer he thought about it the more work it would be to install the basement lighting later rather than now. We would need to tear out most of the ceiling to route wiring later. So the remodel has officially expanded…again.


Backstory: The remodel started out as two bathroom remodels but because we wanted to steal space from the master bedroom it expanded to include the bedroom too. When I worked out a master bathroom layout and we saw how tiny the master bedroom was going to be we decided to move the wall between the living room and master bedroom which is where the fireplace is. So we had to pick between boxing in the fireplace and loosing the space or removing both fireplace and chimney. We picked the more labor intensive option where we gained space. Then we decided against installing temporary master bedroom carpet that we would just tear out later to install hardwood floors. But the only good location to stop the hardwood floors was at the entry. Which now leads us to installing hardwood floors in all three bedrooms and the hallway…so half of our house.


The finished half of our basement is a huge 620sf rec room with no real purpose besides storage right now. It is a strange shape with a fireplace nook that cuts the space in half, a not so useful wide hallway, a low beam encased in a soffit, a shallow nook under the window, a kitchen countertop with a sink, and a stove outlet coming out of the floor nearby. The basement level:

We were told the original owners had a daughter who was mentally disabled so they built the basement to be a mini suite for her to live in. She had her own bathroom, kitchenette, and seating area near the fireplace. The space is completely above ground with two big windows and has a door to the back patio so it would have been a great “apartment.” The original owners lived here for 25 years before they sold the house and moved to Arizona. Unfortunately, they couldn’t convince their daughter to come along and she later committed suicide. : (

The second owners lived here for 10 years and they used the space for mostly storage. When we toured the house the room was packed to the gills with stuff.


We didn’t realize how big the room really was until our final walk through.

Gotta love that retro carpet.

Shallow nook around the window.

Kitchenette with soffit above and stove outlet on the floor.

The hallway for example was much wider than it had looked previously!


Someday we hope to turn it into a multi-functional space we’ll use on a regular basis. I’m a big planner (I know what a surprise right?) so I had started planning out the room’s layout when we bought the house three years ago.

We’re going to have a TV watching area in the center of the room.

A built in desk in the nook under the window with an island on casters right behind it for additional workspace while maintaining flexibility. One side of the island will have an overhang for seating.

The current sink and countertop will be redone and used as a utility sink because we don’t have one anywhere else in the house. The extra wide hallway to the bathroom and unfinished side of the basement will have floor to ceiling built-in storage hidden by sliding doors on either side of the soffit. With an infrared sensor we can hide the TV equipment and DVDs in this storage area.

The mini room where the massive fireplace used to be will be an exercise/future kids space with big sliding barn doors. For now we hope to use it as an exercise room but if we ever have kids we could use this configuration where we use a bookcase down the center for a divider to create a small play area.

The left over area between the patio door and main door will have a glass display case and a deep bench or daybed for reading. If we go with a deep bench we might try to fit a small table with chair in front of it or just design it to work with the height of our card table. A daybed on the other hand could work for a guest bed since we don’t plan to have at guest bedroom in the future.


So I had to come up with a lighting plan for the space and fast! Originally, there were only two ugly semi-flush light fixtures for the whole space. They did not put out nearly enough light so at night the space felt like a dungeon.


We wanted even diffused light that was adjustable depending on what we used the space for. Some task lighting was a must too. The basement has lower ceilings than the main floor so I wanted recessed lighting because it would make the space feel taller. We’re going to put all of the recessed lights on dimmers so we can adjust them for whatever we are using the space for. After talking to my lighting department at work I came up with this layout:

The space will go from 2 fixtures to 12 + task lighting! I put the recessed lights on an 8’ spacing because they are about 8’ off the floor. As a general rule that seems to work pretty well except that it’s a long skinny space and I didn’t want a single row of lights going down the room. How boring would that be? It would make this space look like a commercial corridor. So I took the width of the room, divided it in three, and put a zig-zag pattern of lights going down the room.

This uses less lights than a square grid (two lights per floor joist which run from the top to bottom of this picture) and adds interest.

Once I had that all drawn up I had to figure out which floor joist to start in and if I wanted more lights on the top or bottom line of lights. That was all decided on by where I could squeeze lights in under our master bathroom. That area is congested with plumbing and ductwork so finding a place to lights after the fact was a real treat. I found a way to make it work though by limiting the number of lights we had under that area and using task lights for the desk and sink. In the tightest spot we will need to use a smaller remodel housing to fit in the same floor joist cavity as the toilet waste line.


The exercise/storage room/possible play area will have it’s own light switch.

The desk will have two mini pendants hanging in front of the window for extra light.

The sink area will have four small recessed lights in the soffit above it. Currently, the space has it’s own flush mount light and switch but the light is behind where you stand so it only casts a lot of shadows on the sink. Not a very good design but with the floor tore up above we can see the beam takes up most of the soffit so there isn’t going to be much room to work with there.

The reading area will have two adjustable wall sconces on arms flanking the daybed/bench.


So what do you think? Do you like the new plan? Have your remodeling projects expanded again and again like ours?


6 Responses to “The Remodel Expands…Again”

  1. 1 Wawa September 27, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    LOL, our remodel has done nothing but expand. We were going to do it one little piece at a time, but then we realized that we didnt’ want to be banging away on new framing downstairs after installing new tile upstairs, or cutting into brand new drywall downstairs to run plumbing for upstairs – so all at once it is! And well…while we’re at it we might as well deal with demolishing the back porch we never use and filling in that door. Oh…and well if everything is opened up we might as well go ahead and update the entire HVAC system. My poor checkbook cries itself to sleep at night.

    Your lighting plan looks great! That basement won’t know what hit it.

  2. 2 Mike @HA September 28, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Well it totally makes sense to run the wire now, but yeah, that’s a lot of extra work for the current reno! Our laundry room and bathroom have had some scope creep. The laundry room was originally going to stay the same, then we decided to add flooring, then we figured we might as well demo the wood panel walls, built 2×4 walls and insulate, then we added new drains and plumbing, and now we’ve decided to sheet rock the ceiling instead of leaving it open – mostly for noise reduction to the bedroom above it. Yeah, it an adventure but sometimes it just makes sense to do the messy projects and hire pros once if you know you’re going to do it some day anyway.

  3. 3 Mel September 30, 2011 at 6:15 am

    A very complet lighting plan! Your zig zag design will break it up nicely.
    I think it’s cute how you expect kids to play in that small area. You MAY be able to shovel all the toys into that space, but they will play all over the house. (and they will do it all without a plan) ;o)
    I’ve been waiting to see your progress up stairs. How’s it going?

    • 4 Robin September 30, 2011 at 9:14 am

      LOL no I don’t expect them to play in only that room. It was more for big plastic toy storage like you said a place to shove the toys. But there could be some playing in there like a play kitchen set. I also figure the unused corner by the sink will have more toys and probably an easel (kind of a crafty area). I fully expect there to be toys in every room of the house. I was just calling it a playroom because it was a quick and easy description. I don’t want to talk much about future kids on the blog in case we can’t have any. It would be naive of me to assume we can.

  4. 5 kelly October 5, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    “We’re doing x so we might as well do z” is a common phrase in our house as well, which generally leads to attempting to explain to everyone how you’re not “done” with your 3 month renovation 2 years later 🙂
    It’s easy to see why you’d want to do the lighting in the basement while the floor is up, though, even if it wasnt originally on the agenda it will be much much easier. It’s the same reason we decided to replace the window while we’re painting a room. Who wants to go back and demo later?

  1. 1 Basement Task Lighting « 3 acres & 3000 square feet Trackback on November 17, 2011 at 9:59 am

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This is the story of two twenty something newlyweds who are learning to adjust to life in their first house, a 1973 fixer-upper.
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