Get yer basement stairs refreshed, now with more storage!

Our basement stairway has been a sore sight for as long as we’ve owned the house. All the same layers of wallpaper and crappy paint that we scraped off the rest of the house were still on these walls, but with tons of cracking and peeling in addition, probably from the changes in temperature over the years since the space isn’t well insulated and lacks working radiators in the winter.

There were tons of cracks in the plaster and quite a few places where some had even chipped away.

The biggest thing I’d been wanting to do something about was the wasted space at the top of the stairs, where this little recessed area is and a little bit of subfloor is showing. I was planning to add some shelves, but I couldn’t really do anything until I fixed the wall. I didn’t have time this weekend to strip, scrape, skim, sand and paint the entire stairway, but I figured I could at least get the recessed area finished so I could build the shelves, and then finish the rest later.

Here’s how it looked after scraping it bare and getting all the cracks taped and mudded on Saturday.

Basement stairs skimmed

You can see I did part of the ceiling as well, but just the part over the shelves so I could get that area totally finished. I did manage to get the entire wall on the right scraped bare as well — that one was doable because it’s solid plaster on brick, which is always easier to scrape for some reason. The wallpaper/paint came off of that wall pretty easy in about 30 minutes, but the ceiling is another story. I tried to scrape some of it down, and even went after parts with the orbital sander and 60-grit paper, but no dice.

So the ceiling will have to get skimmed really thick to cover up all the rough edges and chunks of paint and wallpaper. Maybe I’ll manage to do that next weekend. It would be good to do it soon while the basement is still a mess from this last weekend — nothing is messier than sanding joint compound. Well, maybe bringing down plaster, but thankfully none of that is required. This time.

I bought some 1x8s and routed a nice edge on the front to give it a nice finish, and routed the same pattern on the 1×4 supports for the shelves.

After priming and painting ’em, I was ready to cut everything and put in in place on Monday, incidentally my last day of paternity leave before going back to the office today. After just an hour or so, I had the shelves finished and looking good. Just some putty to fill the nail holes and paint to touch up some areas today, and it’s all wrapped up.

Adding tons of new storage space in a small house and putting unused space to use — always a winner.

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The color doesn’t show up great in these photos, but it’s a really nice pale yellow from Valspar (Tiffany). I also got the right side finished and put up the rack for the mops and brooms. Not bad for a weekend of work.

Just gotta do something about that ceiling. Soon.

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(And for those of you patiently awaiting the second post about Lily’s room, it is indeed on it’s way! Just waiting for a few additions from Rachel has been a little tied up these days. Coming soon, we promise!)

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