Our 1950’s Basement Remodel Reveal: From Wood-Paneled to White and Bright!

Whether you’re new around here or a long-time reader, welcome! My husband Josh and I have been renovating our 1952 home for the past 4 years, almost entirely on our own. We’re tackling the entire basement for this spring’s One Room Challenge (ORC), and it’s the final project we need to complete to call our home renovation completely finished! Over the next 8 weeks, I’ll be sharing the progress of our basement remodel on my Instagram and here on the blog as part of the ORC, a nation-wide event involving hundreds of other designers and home renovators. Be sure to check in on the ORC’s blog page to follow along with all of the other projects going on!

Get caught up:







Week 8: The Reveal… of a 75% Finished Basement!

Disclaimer: I received discounted and/or sponsored materials from The Tile Shop, Build.com, ProSource, and Sherwin Williams in exchange for this and other posts. All thoughts, design plans, and opinions are my own.

The Journey Is Complete!

I am so excited to finally reveal our basement remodel! If you’ve been following along with our renovation journey, you know that the basement was our last major project to tackle in order to call our home officially “complete.” We started with demo back in January of 2019. Over the last year and a half, we have completely transformed this space from wood-paneled, musty, and dated to a cozy, inviting, and modern finished basement. We didn’t quite make the timeline for the One Room Challenge reveal, but be sure to check out the posts linked above which share all of the design plans and quite a few before and mid-project photos. I’ll take you on a room-by-room tour of the finished spaces below!

The Living Room

Sima Spaces Basement reveal: BEFORE
AFTER (Image via Spacecrafting Photograpy)

The Fireplace & Builtins

My goal for the living room was to create a bright, cozy, and inviting space to enjoy year-round. We took it down to the block wall, reframed and drywalled it, completely reworked the electrical design, and added carpet for a cozy feel. Our home did not have a fireplace, so we installed a gas fireplace surrounded by built-in cabinetry. It looks beautiful and will add so much warmth (literally and figuratively) in the cold Minnesota winter months! It is connected to a switch on the left side of the built-ins so it’ll be an easy on/off, and even has the option to hook up to a thermostat. I love the matte black, streamlined appearance with the black firebox, paired with the modern traditional sconce lights that I selected.

*coming soon: post on how to install a gas fireplace in your home!*

I was lucky enough to partner with Build.com for the fireplace and was so impressed by the selection and user-friendliness of their website. They have project experts who can help you select the perfect piece for your project and they’re available by phone, email, or chat through the website. We ran into an issue with the fireplace getting scratched up by the drywall team, and the reps at Build.com were able to direct me to the right people to figure out the paint color so it could be touched up. If you’re a designer or contractor, they offer trade pricing on certain items and have dedicated account managers to help with the purchasing & order management process.

I tiled the surround with a marble mosaic tile and Josh built a square mantel that I painted the same color as the rest of the trim (Crushed Ice by Sherwin Williams in a satin finish). Here was the design plan:

basement design plan: Sima Spaces

And the results!

Image via Spacecrafting Photography

We went with Extra White SW 7006 on the walls and ceiling in a flat finish to create the illusion of taller ceilings (they’re only 6’8″!). I chose Crushed Ice SW 7647 in satin finish for contrasting trim and doors. The builtins are painted Naval SW 6244 in semi-gloss. All of our paint is from the Emerald line at Sherwin Williams.

The Dry Bar

To maximize the function of the basement living room, we added a dry bar with a beverage fridge flanked by cabinetry. The cabinets add storage, while the beverage fridge will be so nice for entertaining or hanging out and watching TV- no need to go upstairs to the fridge! Also from Build.com, the fridge elevates this space and adds a luxury feel. Build.com has a huge selection of beverage fridges in a variety of sizes and available features. I love ours for the dual-zone temperature controls and beautiful wood accents in the interior. The shelves pull out and are able to store a LOT- 84 cans and 22 bottles, to be exact.

Here’s a “before” view… decorated for a new year’s eve party a few years ago!

Before photo: Sima Spaces basement remodel

And the same exact view after:

Image via Spacecrafting Photography

The Bedrooms

Upstairs, we had created an owner’s suite by turning one of the bedrooms into a walk-in closet and bathroom. We added two bedrooms to the basement to now call our home a four bedroom house. They were both wood-paneled and not very inviting! We slept in one of them for about 6 months while we remodeled the main floor… it was not exactly the coziest bedroom I’ve ever had, let’s just say that!

We took everything down to the concrete block wall, reframed, re-wired, added egress windows, and insulated and drywalled. Both bedrooms are now much more inviting!

The Bathroom

When we bought this house, the basement bathroom was just a toilet, old sink, and cement shower base. We called it the “Alcatraz bathroom!” We replaced the plumbing, got rid of the shower base, reframed, and turned it into a fully functional and bright bathroom! Due to the layout of the HVAC vents, the door is actually off of one of the bedrooms so it’s technically an en-suite. It would make the perfect guest space, workout room, office, or kid’s bedroom!

I chose a neutral penny tile flooring and a faux marble 12×24 tile for the tub surround. We carried the paint colors (Extra White SW 7006 and Crushed Ice SW 7647 by Sherwin Williams) into the bathroom, as well as the navy blue theme with a navy blue vanity. Black and brass accents add some contrast and an upscale feel, and the paneled ceiling adds texture and interest as well.

Sima Spaces basement bathroom reveal: penny tile bathroom floor, marble tub surround

Find styling details in this post.

The Laundry Room

Last but not least, the laundry room! When we bought this house, the washer and dryer were actually in the kitchen. We moved them downstairs initially without thinking through the design plan for finishing the basement someday. We ended up moving them to a different wall and re-doing the venting and electrical.

We drywalled the walls, but left the ceiling unfinished because there are a number of plumbing access points. The original plan was to paint it white, but we ended up changing our minds because we didn’t think it would turn out very good with the amount of pipes and wiring up there! Painting the floor and adding baseboards helped to add a cleaned up look.

It is admittedly not the most beautiful laundry room to ever exist but we made it a lot better compared to what it was! And here’s a fun fact: the shelf above the washer and dryer was originally hanging in one of the bedrooms. We kept it and re-installed it in the laundry room!

Image via Spacecrafting Photography

This basement was a labor of love, to say the least. We put so much work into it and we are so happy with how it turned out. What do you think? What’s your favorite part?! I’d love to hear in the comments below!


Paint Colors: Extra White SW 7006 (walls); Crushed Ice SW 7647 (trim/doors), Naval SW 6244 from Sherwin Williams

Carpet: Resista Soft Style Gull Wing Pattern Carpet in Gull Wing from ProSource Wholesale


Author: Laura Sima

Hey there, I'm Laura- creator of Sima Spaces. I'm a home renovator, designer, and blogger based in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. When I'm not designing or renovating homes, you can find me working as a pediatric ICU RN, snuggling my dog or cat, skiing in CO, soaking up the sun on our boat, or enjoying a glass of wine on our patio!

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  • Did you also install outdoor drainage around the house’s foundation and yard to prevent further water damage?

    Looking to potentially do the same with our basement. It’s very similar, from early 50’s, maybe a tad larger, but same water-damaged wood panelling, lime green/yellow vinyl flooring, and a laundry/mechanical area that needs a major overhaul and updating (concrete patching, electrical, venting, etc.) We aren’t DYIers so I’m scared of discovering the costs and not-yet-known costs (demolition, rubbish removal, asbestos abatement, water damage repair and prevention, electrical rewiring, etc!) It’s overwhelming. But, if the house is to stay a home, it all ultimately has to be fixed.

    • Hi Anne! We installed drain tile with a sump pump around the bottom of the basement, which will take care of any water that does get in the house. We also re-routed a couple of the gutters, and did as much work as we could to the landscaping to ensure that the ground slopes away from the house.

      It is definitely a costly undertaking – our basement cost around $40K in total and that was with us doing quite a bit of the work! It totally depends on where you live, too- quotes can vary quite a bit even here in the Twin Cities from the city center to an hour out of the city. I would recommend getting at least 2-3 quotes from a contractor who can manage the whole project for you if you don’t have any project management experience.

  • The bathroom and laundry area make sense to renovate — but the rest of this house? I am gutted by the loss of the charismatic, unique features that made this into a cozy home – all that lovely wood!!! 🙁 That “new year’s eve” party space was perfection! Renovate but leave some of these old homes intact for those of us who appreciate and will love them. 🙁

    • I promise you, it was not worth saving… years of water damage had ruined the wood and it was just cheap plywood paneling. The floor and ceiling was damaged asbestos tile which is a health hazard. The electrical was not up to modern code and truly unsafe in some areas. We added two bedrooms, a cozy living room, and a full bathroom- perhaps you missed the “before” photo of the previous bathroom 😉 There are tens of thousands of basements out there like this, so if that’s your style then I’m sure you won’t have a problem finding one! 🙂 The new owners were thrilled with the updated look and so were we! Ultimately you have to do what makes you happy as you can’t please everyone else!