Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Basement Workshop.

I'm fortunate to have space inside the house (even if it is in the cold, scary basement) with enough room to store my tools and work on projects.  I don't know what this room was when our house was built in 1848, but it became the kitchen when the house was remodeled in the 1930's.  The kitchen moved upstairs to the main level of the house in the late 1960's, and the now-former basement kitchen became a storage room.

This project is a perfect example of having to make a situation worse before you can make it better.  The space looked solid, but tired ... but we had to almost completely demolish it to correct some serious problems.

Here is a quick tour, clockwise around the room, with some photos approximately before and during demolition.  I say 'approximately' because I neglected (once again) to take the "before" photos before I demolished stuff. 

Southwest Corner.

The vertical stain on the wall by the window was the scene of one of the scariest electrical discoveries I've made while working here.

The metal electrical box had rusted completely away inside the wall ... and I had been using that outlet just a few minutes before!

After some more demolition, we had this:

West Wall.

North Wall.

Built-in Cupboard on the East Wall.

Bricked-up Fireplace.

South Wall.  The left door goes to the laundry room; the right door goes to the hall.

Hall door, again.

One of the prior owners of our house laid strip oak flooring down on sleepers throughout the basement ... wood floor in the basement?  What were they thinking?  There was vinyl floor glued to the wood floor in the workshop space.

We used a digging iron to remove the flooring, taking it up piece by piece ... revealing old concrete.

The floor along the South wall had a trench cut into it, that had been used to run plumbing to the kitchen, basement bathroom, and laundry room.  Until we figure out whether we'll need to use the trench, too, we just covered it up with 3/4" plywood.

Once the room was stripped of the deteriorating plaster and wallboard, we installed new lighting and some new electrical outlets ... and it was time to begin to turn it into a real working workshop.

The South wall has a large industrial shelving unit that we got for free. It holds all of our electrical and plumbing supplies, bins various house parts that I don't want to lose, and some smaller projects in process. See the basement bathroom medicine cabinet on the lower shelf?

I store my clamps on one of the side rails.

The East wall, where the fireplace is bricked in, holds a steel workbench with drawers and a laminate top ... got it on Craig's List for almost nothing.

The wood stacked on the bench top is old maple basketball floor (Craig's List, for free), that I plan to use to make countertops. 

The drawers hold hand tools (like screwdrivers, pliers, and the like).  All of the power tools, are arranged on the bottom shelf. 

The North wall is a bit of a hodge-podge still.  The steel shelves were left here by the previous owners, and I'm using them now to hold paint and gardening supplies, and tubs of assorted stuff I still don't know what to do with.

The star of the space is the work island.  I made it from two old-school kitchen cabinets (Craig's List again ... thanks, Robin!), it's my very favorite thing in the whole room.

I attached the cabinets back to back, installed locking casters underneath (free, again), and screwed on a 3/4" plywood top.  That's a piece of concrete tile backer board (left over from another project) sitting on top in this photo ... it's a great work surface.  I have a detailed post HERE with a tutorial to show you how I built the island.

This is what the workshop looks like as you walk in from the Hall. 

What do you think?

(written by Hartwood Roses.  Hartwood Roses blog.)


  1. That is fabulous! I just love it. I love how much character the room has, and I am really wanting those stained glass windows. Wow, are those ever pretty!

    I know a lot of hard work went into that room. Truly, it's a great transformation.

  2. OH. MY. WORKSHOP...

    I had my mouth open during all the before photos. You have done so much work!

    What a fabulous new space loaded with character! Lovin' the brick wall. Old cabs, window, just loads of fun things around you now. You must be so pleased!

    And those tools. Wow. How fun would that work counter be to have.

    I'm so glad the timing to this all worked to your advantage. Awesome!

    Thanks so much for sharing your space for the workshop before and after event!

    FJ Donna

  3. That electrical was scary! I love your work island, the blue is so pretty! And those built-ins are wonderful too! What a great job and maybe one of these days I'll get over your way to see it in person!

    Kat :)

  4. I found you from Donna's workshop! What a transformation and undertaking! It would have scared me to death!

    I adore the work cabinet in the middle - something about that color aqua is so soothing to me! And to have that much space to work on!!!

    I need to know what do you do down there? I saw stained glass?? Are you renovating your home? I'll have to read the rest of your blog to find out!

    Thanks for the tour!

  5. Oh my goodness!

    What a mess to start with and now it is drastically improved. Y'all did a lot of good work here.
    You should be proud.
    I love that center island work surface and the shelving lining the walls is great storage.

    Great job!

  6. Popping over from Donna's - LOVE your workshop! I agree, it has so much character. Just my style. Great job! :)


  7. I think it's wonderful. Wish we had basements here in Louisiana. But no. The water table is too high.

  8. Fabulous. Congrats.

    It's great to see a woman doing this kind of thing. You're an inspiration. My good friend also makes furniture, restored her house, etc. and I am much impressed.


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