This post is sponsored by Lowe’s Home Improvement.
My sister, Andi, just transformed her basement storage area into a bonafide game room in one of the easiest, most budget-friendly DIYs we’ve ever featured on this blog.
The room went from this:
Here is her truly inspiring story:
We moved into our first house last October. We live about 10 minutes away from Chris and Julia, in a mature neighborhood with mostly rambler style homes built in the ‘50s. Enough work had been done to it throughout the years, it felt dated. We easily pictured quick improvements once it was ours. One of our favorite spaces from the beginning was the finished basement. It was just so much more house! It felt like a big bonus room — with florescent lighting, which was the first thing to go! Recessed lighting was installed and it instantly felt more bright and fresh. But it was still a very beige room. Beige wood paneling and tan wall-to-wall carpet. The basement was too warm. Julia helped me to choose a cooler paint color for the paneling, and our drab basement started to come back to life.
With new paint and lighting we stopped calling it a “basement” and promoted it to an “entertainment room.” We divided it into three sections: David’s play area, TV/couch space, and…*drum roll* game room! We’re avid board gamers. And when I say we like playing board games it’s so beyond the world of Monopoly, Clue, or Yahtzee. Our perfect Saturday night is hunkering down for a lengthy board game with a lot of laughs, stone-baked pizza, and a side of strategy and competition. *wink* (Fun fact: my husband, David, actually curated the CLJ gift guide of boardgames last Christmas which will give you a glimpse into our recs!)
Our entertainment room came with a wall of varnished wood built-ins with bad hardware and weird cubby shapes. One of the cabinets was outfitted for a record player, and had vinyl slat storage underneath. It was very Mad Men but lacked all the glam that makes Mad Men cool. You know? Our built-ins also have this bar that comes out in front, and I can just picture it with ashtrays and holiday cheese balls back in the day. We went back and forth over whether we should paint the built-ins to lessen the eyesore, or knock them down all together and install side by side bookcases. Now felt the perfect time to tackle our spring to-do list at home. Thanks to Lowe’s, I can happily say giving the built-ins a new coat of paint, hardware, and knocking out its weird geometric center shelves, kicked-off such a dramatic transformation!
We’re safely staying home, not taking unnecessary trips to the store, and I’m here to tell you — As you take on your next paint (or general room refresh!) project, you can find the materials you need online at Lowes.com. (If you’re comfortable with curbside pickup, that’s available, too.) Painting cabinetry and updating décor are quick indoor projects you can take on at a budget-friendly price point – with a ton of bang for your buck.
Once I found this inspiration photo, we made the call to knock out the middle shelves, and paint the built-ins a moody dark blue-grey. Our winner was Valspar’s “Night View”. So many paints come with primer now, so I didn’t know what steps, if any, I would have to take before painting the built-ins. Julia explained that because it’s varnished wood, we don’t necessarily have to sand it (thank you!), but we can use a deglosser. After a deglosser, we would need to prime, and then paint. (This beast of a beauty took two coats!) After one night of priming nooks and crannies and doors and corners, my right arm was so sore! (I’m amateur, remember?) It felt like a lot of work, and built-ins didn’t even look good yet. They just looked white-washed and patchy.
The next day I went for it with my best friend who came to help, and it was the most satisfying color to paint. These brushes and these roller covers made all the difference. The hardest part was painting dark spaces inside cabinets, in a room that doesn’t get enough light as is. When all the painting was done, our first Lowe’s home decor pieces arrived the same day and I could barely wait to put a faux plant and bowl on the shelf. Yes, the terracotta bowl is a planter! I just loved that orange pop against a dark blue gray so much. Hardware arrived next, and all of the sudden our space started feeling so elevated.
We had two musts for the game room: comfortable upholstered chairs for our heavy-hitter games — I’m looking at you “Mansions of Madness” — and a table that would extend to seat more people when needed (that’s when it’s a party!). I love how our new slate blue chairs hug your back and make you want to hang out all night. Our table seats six comfortably and extends to seat eight if needed — which is great because one of our favorite game purchases are expansions (Some of our favorite games sell “packs” to entertain even more people).
We loved the charm of the built-ins once housing a record player, and the custom vinyl storage they had for it — so we got this Victrola Record Player, Radio, Bluetooth genius contraption that we’ve already played David’s Oasis records on. It was such a moment.
Julia is an OG when it comes to putting an area rug on top of wall-to-wall carpeting, and has taught me well. Our NuLOOM area rug brings in all the right colors for our room. Blues, tans, and even some punchy corals. We hung an Allen&Roth mirror on the left wall to make our game room feel more spacious. It works.
Let’s talk about the pendants for a minute… they’re kind of spaced far apart. An electrician hung them a couple months ago before we had any furniture, or even a vision in place. We knew we wanted the space to eventually be a game room and to have pendants above a table. That was what we knew. We also figured our electrician would know better than us where to hang them. *shrugs* Turns out, they’re a bit off. Extending the table did help them feel a bit centered, but honestly changing the spacing of them is just not a bridge we’re going to cross right now. We’re too thrilled about the latest edition to our entertainment room.
We look forward to a time when we can have everyone over for game night — hopefully soon. But for now, we’re focused on our two-player and three-player collection, just the right size for our small family.
(PS. You better believe I want you to sound off your favorite board games in the comments! What have you been playing at home?)
Andrea Bradley de Ahedo is a stylist and commercial photographer who recently moved to Idaho after living abroad in Monterrey, Mexico to be the Visual Media Producer for Chris Loves Julia. She loves foraging for unique spoons and bowls for her ever-growing prop collection, and shooting flatlays for days. She feels most at home when she is traveling with her husband and toddler son in tow. You can check her out on Instagram at @andiandreastudio.