Putting together our Basement

Do you remember that TLC show, While You Were Out? Someone left for the weekend and their loved ones completed a surprise room makeover in their house?

Just call me Evan Farmer.

Earlier this year, I posted about how our basement of doom is essentially our dumping ground for our crap.

Exhibit A, B and C:

James on Jessie Basement


basement 3


basement 2

It’s where dreams go to die.

Yes, that is a hose in the middle of the floor.

The space is already set up for use. There are new laminate floors and a fresh(ish) coat of paint. But we haven’t had the time or energy to do anything with it since we moved in two years ago.

Once we found out Baby James #2 was on his/her way, I got to thinking. And that thinking got to list making. Suddenly, Toby had a huge to-do list of things to get done around the house before the little bee came along (I have actually set up a Need To/Want To Get Done list on our corkboard – I love it. Toby wants to punch it).

We want to get the basement set up so that when the baby does come, we have a huge space for our toddler son to play. If I’m upstairs with the baby on an early Saturday morning, Toby and Alex can go play downstairs. If the baby is awake at night and fussy, we can escape to the basement so we don’t wake anyone up.

This past weekend, Toby was signed up for the Tough Mudder challenge with my brother. Three weeks ago, my nesting brain got to thinking: “What if I put this room together when he’s gone?” And so the planning began.

I confided to my friend who helped with the planning process. I purchased couches from a local lady and stored them at my sister’s house. I lied about playdates to go pick up picture frames in Ottawa via Kijiji. I even faked a gallbladder attack.

Then the weekend arrived. My friend was to come over Friday evening to begin the process, but I got slammed with two gallbladder attacks on Thursday that left me in a bad spot for most of Friday. But following two trips to the ER, I was given the okay, and decided that the project will keep my mind off the fun that’s going on inside my body.

I didn’t really fake the gallbladder attacks.

Friday and Saturday evenings as well as Saturday naptime was used to clean and set up the room. Here’s what we put together in that time:

Basement finish 1

Basement finish 2

Basement finish 3

We divided the room up into three parts: Toby’s office area, a television/sitting area (tv to come) and a play area. The middle of the room will essentially be used for hockey/soccer/running.

We worked on a photo collage, as well as set up an artwork corner of Alex’s crafts and found a way to hang the race medals we’ve collected over the years. I now just need to dig out the rest of them!

When Toby hobbled into the house Sunday morning, Alex and I were playing downstairs. Toby was shocked and loved what was done with the place. But I realized the space is actually more for Alex, as it will give him that place to play, especially in the winter when we’re stuck indoors.

It feels like we have a new house as we begin the use this space more often.

So, that takes one thing off the to-do list. Only 12 more to go…


Have you ever done a surprise room makeover?




March Focus of the Month: Get my Sh*t organized

Happy March! What do you mean it’s March 10?

Although we’re already 1.5 weeks into the month, I want to outline my March Focus of the Month: Getting my Sh*t Organized.

The brutal winter weather has turned our house into a hoarder’s nightmare, forcing me to continuously stuff junk in every corner and drawer in this house.


My Kitchen Monica Drawer.

My Kitchen Monica Drawer.


Our Basement of Doom


The home office closet.

Then, there’s my email inbox. It looks like a list created by a maniacal four-year-old looking to create havoc in the internet world.

Then, there’s my house cleaning schedule, which is essentially non-existent. We had company come up to visit this weekend, and all I can say is I’m grateful for my son’s extremely rare three-hour-long nap, which allowed me to get the house in presentable fashion. I’ve gotten into a bad habit of skipping household chores and doing the basics. I then turn into a crazy crazier person and spend hours trying to bring the place back into order.

In other words, March is going to be a household/email/life organization month. I’m going to find ways to better organize the house and my home office, and I’ll present some tips and finds along the way.

Last week I went to the library and signed out this book:


It’s a good book in that it provides you with quick tips on organization in every area of your life, but it’s a little much. If you took every piece of advice offered in the book, you’d be overwhelmed with life. And then you’d probably have to eat a row of Oreo cookies to feel better.

Here are five tips I took from the book that I will try to implement this month:

1. Make your bed every morning: this quick, one-minute effort will eliminate a piece of clutter from your life. It will also divert the dog from sleeping directly on my pillow during work hours.

2. Use the “clock” technique: Stand at the entrance of the room and designate a spot as twelve o’clock. Then start working your way around the face of the clock. This is a good tip to help me stay focused. Otherwise, my house-cleaning technique looks like I’m working in a time machine.

3. Put housework on your schedule. Spell out what tasks need to be done weekly,and write down those chores or times when completing them in convenient for you. There are a lot of people who do one household chore a day. For instance: Mondays are for vacuuming, Tuesdays are bathrooms, Wednesdays are dusting, etc. I’m going to try to put together a daily schedule and see if it helps.

4. Dust light fixtures. Holy, Steve Eurkel, this is long overdue. Just ask the ladybugs stuck to the lights.

5. Use discipline. Deal with e-mail messages once. I always have my email inbox open, which is a constant distraction from getting project work done.


What’s a tip that you feel helps you out when running a household or home office?