Our Basement Transformation: Six Months Post-Flood

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Sunbelt Rentals. Thanks for supporting the brands that support my business.

Last September, while celebrating our son’s first birthday, our entire basement flooded with sewage water. Outside, there was a crazy storm going on and I casually mentioned to Finn that he should pop down to the basement just to make sure everything was dry. In our three years of living here, and surviving countless storms, we never had any water in the basement. Well, he walked down the stairs and into a foot of sewage water. Yuck.

Our flooded basement

That was not a fun day in the Finn household. However, we’re now six months into our basement transformation and I couldn’t be happier with the progress we’ve made. Yes, it was an expensive and time-consuming setback for our home. But, because of the flood, we were able to make the space work much better for our family. We also took the time to transform the space into a family hangout/home office/playroom all in one! I think we made lemonade out of lemons with this one.

Basement Transformation – Video

While I love a still image, it’s pretty incredible to see the basement transformation unfold via video. In this video, I walk you through the entire process from flood to now and all of the projects I’ve done to get it to this point. You can view the video over on YouTube right here.

Our Basement Transformation: Before, During, & After

First, let’s take a look at the basement on the day we moved in back in 2019…

Kenneth basement before
Our basement before
our basement before

Now, let’s take a look at the basement before the flood, during the renovation, and what it looks like now, six months later.

Our basement before
Hangout Zone – Before
The status of our basement
Hangout Zone- During
Our basement transformation
Hangout Zone – After
Finn's work station
Reading Nook – Before
Our new window bench in the basement
Reading Nook – During
Reading nook after
Reading Nook – Now
Our basement pre-flood
Finn’s Future Office – Before
Potenial new office space for finn
Finn’s Future Office – Before
Finn’s Office Space – Progress
Finn's new office space now
Finn’s Office Space – Now

Lots Of DIY Projects

Our basement before I did lots of DIY projects
The space when the pros were finished

While we hired out the bulk of the renovation to the pros (electrical, plumbing, framing), the moment they finished I was able to take over and put my spin on things. It was really important for me to get my hands dirty down here and try some new DIY projects. They left me with a white, blank canvas and I’ve been able to customize it myself.

For the past six months, I’ve been partnering with Sunbelt Rentals. From the start, I knew it was the perfect fit for a sponsorship. They have over 14,000 tools available for rent and this was a fantastic opportunity to try out some new-to-me tools.

How to use a table saw to install vertical shiplap on a wall in your basement

If you’re tackling any home improvement projects, Sunbelt Rentals is a great resource for high-quality tools that you can rent for a few hours or even a week or longer! Partnering with them pushed me out of my comfort zone (That table saw was awesome!) and I was able to create some thorough DIY tutorials for this community.

Here’s the list of DIY projects I tackled down in the basement…

How to install a panoramic wallpaper

I tackled A LOT of big DIY projects in a short span of time, but each project left me feeling confident and motivated to keep going to transform this space!

The Main Area

Our new basement furniture

Now, let’s take a look at each individual area of the basement. First up, the main hangout zone. I wrote a big blog post, showcasing this space and all of the furniture and decor I chose. That blog post has the space all styled up, but on a regular basis, we keep it pretty clutter-free over here so there’s plenty of room for the kids to play.

Our basement transformation 6 month sin

We are really loving the sofa (It’s so comfy.) and it’s been nice to come down here on the weekends to watch movies and play, play, play!

The Reading Nook/Play Space

Our reading nook in the basement is so cozy

A few weeks ago, I revealed the reading nook at the front of the basement. This is the coziest little spot and the kids love hopping up on that cushion with all of their books. You’ll also find them sitting at the play table coloring or building.

Rory's dollhouse in the basement

We got Rory this dollhouse for Christmas and both she and Ellis love coming down here to play with it. As of now, it sits on the wall near the wallpaper and she keeps more dolls and accessories in the basket.

Reading nook after
Reading Nook – Now

We may eventually add more pieces down here, but for now, this is working. (We used to have a play kitchen, but it got destroyed in the flood.) I think this spot could benefit from another storage cabinet so the toys are hidden, yet easily accessible. For now, they all live in the closet (which I’ll show you in a moment) and the kids bring them out to play on the ground over here. So, I’m considering this zone to be a work in progress.

Finn’s Office Space

Now, here’s a space that I haven’t shared on the blog just yet – Finn’s home office! If you can even believe it, it used to be a creepy storage room that held lots of random junk. When the flood happened, we used it as an opportunity to finish this space and open it up to the rest of the basement. The basement now feels 5x bigger and Finn has a dedicated space to get work done.

Finn's workspace in the basement

We found the cabinet at our local Pottery Barn outlet and it holds all of Finn’s office supplies and books. Plus, it’s a great spot to keep his go-to items within reach.

Finn's home office setup is a big part of our basement transformation

When he was temporarily working out of my office, his monitors were on a folding table for a few months. (Remember, all of his office stuff was destroyed in the flood.) Then, our very generous neighbors gave us their old desk. This has been getting the job done for him! We may eventually replace it, but for now, it’s great!

What’s Left On Our To-Do List?

Our basement transformation, what's left to do?

While the basement transformation is coming along, we’re not done yet. Here’s a list of what’s left to do down here.

  • Finn’s office: Add artwork, stylish whiteboard, table lamp, and more decor.
  • Playroom: Figure out long-term storage solutions for toys, while keeping it tidy.
  • Closets: Overhaul these to make them work for the kids and us.
  • Bathroom: I’ll be finishing this space in the coming months. We still need a toilet and vanity in here!
  • Stairwell: This will eventually get a new light fixture and a floor to ceiling gallery wall.
  • Storage Room: Yeesh, this spot is looking very scary. Someday I will tackle this space from top to bottom…

That’s the short list. Here are more details about those space…

The Closets

The playroom closet space needs some organization

We have a large double-door closet in the main area of the basement and it’s so nice. For now, we added this open storage piece to keep toys easily accessible for the kids. They come down here, open up those doors, and pull all the things out.

As you can see, it’s a bit of a mess and I need to reconfigure the shelves, above, to make them work with all of the stuff we have. I’m thinking this will be a summer project.

A closet that needs some organization in the basement

Eek, here’s a peek at the closet underneath the stairs. It’s a strange closet with a low ceiling and we’ve just shoved random items in here! This could benefit from a good cleanout and some structure and organization!

The Bathroom

Our new penny floor tiles

This is the project I’m currently working on. As of now, I removed everything in the space and tiled the floor myself. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had an electrician and plumber in to move a few things around and now I’m taking over prepping the walls for paint.

Our new penny floor tiles in the bathroom

Once I get the walls done, we can get the vanity and toilet in here to make it a functioning bathroom again. I know Finn is looking forward to having this room done so he can finally use it while working away!

The Stairwell

The stairwell in our basement

Once I conquer that bathroom, I’m moving onto the stairwell. I already ordered this sconce to replace the old one and I’ve been gathering artwork and frames for the wall. I want this area to feature art, photos, and special pieces that represent the Finn family. I can’t wait to get going on this project in the coming months.

Basement Transformation – Sources

Our basement transformation sources

Wall Color, Clare Paint “Greige” in eggshell // Door & Trim Colors, Benjamin Moore “Simply White” in a satin finish // Carpet by Dreamweaver in color “Gold Rush // Wallpaper // Book Ledges // Bench Cushion in “Renaissance Heritage Leaf” // Coloring Table // Dollhouse // Red Bench Pillow // Sofa // Leather Ottoman // TV Stand // Rug (navy/multi) // Throw Blanket // Finn’s Desk // Office Console // Office Chair // Web Cam //  Monitors // Monitor Mount // Clip on Light // Wireless Keyboard & Mouse // Finn’s Sand Timer // Marble Bookends // Closet Storage

Thanks For Following Along!

Our new basement furniture from Castlery

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns and our basement flooding with sewage water was not a part of any plan that we had for our home. But, I’m very proud of how we’ve made the most of this small setback. We now have a basement where we love spending time as a family. What more could you ask for?

our basement transformation 6 months in

Catch Up On Our Basement


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.