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Part of the reason I wasn’t blogging from mid-summer until recently was that we were busy “finishing” our basement.
Those of you who have been reading my blog over the years know that we moved to Michigan in August of 2003. After looking at what seemed like a hundred houses, we found the house that I love. We are set in the woods and our back-yard is adjacent to a Metropark. (For those of you not familiar with Metroparks – and I wasn’t until we started visiting Jim, Jim’s family – they are large natural areas that are maintained to continue to be as natural and unspoiled as possible while still providing outdoor recreation. Some of these parks have golf courses, fishing, cross-country skiing, etc., I’ll probably do another whole post on the many Metroparks in our area.)
Here’s a link to local Metroparks: http://www.metroparks.com/
The part of the Metropark that we abut is not public access. It is only accessible to those of us who live by it and is only mildly maintained. This means that the birds and critters who live back there are generally undisturbed. There are no motorized vehicles allowed, which makes it nice and a perfect extended “back yard.”
Getting back on track – I do seem to go off on tangents for those of you new to my blog – we found our home that was quite new, sitting in a beautifully treed lot (about 1.3 acres), with this marvelous park in the back. Considering we had four German Shepherd Dogs, the promise that we wouldn’t have very close neighbors who would be disturbed by barking was a necessity. Also having a large area that we could fence for the dogs to run was a requirement. I immediately fell in love with the surroundings, and once I walked into the house, I knew I was home. We looked out one of the living room windows that was next to the fireplace and saw a large deer looking in. That sealed the deal.
The house had a large, unfinished, walk-out basement which was something that we really wanted. It was every bit as large as the main level of the house and I envisioned building it into a pub with a large, separate workshop. It was already sectioned into two areas, so I figured we’d finish it in a couple of years.
A “couple of years” turned into 11. Somewhere in the back of our minds, I guess we always figured we would end up moving back south, so we kept putting off the time and the expense. After long talks and much consideration, we decided that we really do love our home and that it would be nearly impossible to find the same environment with all the outdoor amenities that we enjoy anywhere else. We decided to make this our home – forever. Now, we needed to complete setting it up the way we wanted so that we could enjoy all it has to offer.
The first order of business was to empty out the space we wanted to build into our “pub.” After so many years, the basement had become a catch-all. We had furniture that had come with us from Georgia that didn’t fit into the new space. We had boxes full of clothes that we hadn’t worn since we moved, and all kinds of just plain “stuff” that we neither wanted nor needed any longer. Luckily, we found resources to take all these items off our hands and would put them into the hands of those who needed or wanted them.
Once the space was empty, we took stock of the layout and determined what we wanted to use the room for. We knew that we wanted a wet bar, a half-bath, and a pool table. An area for a model railroad layout was also a necessity. Beyond that, I hoped we could add an area for a seating/sofabed and a large television. I had envisioned this basement so many times in my mind, but didn’t know if it would be workable in actuality.
Time to call a contractor. We were lucky that our first choice – a local man who we had met at local home shows – was available. Once he was able to look at our space, we were assured that we could, indeed, do everything with the space that we had hoped. We agreed on how we wanted everything set up and that was the starting bell.
If you’ve never been around construction when dry-wall was being installed, count yourself lucky. It’s a wonderful product because it makes instant walls when it’s attached to the stud walls, but then there’s the joint taping and joint compound. That part, again, isn’t so bad, but then they have to sand all the joinery flat so that all the seams are invisible when the paint goes on. That dust gets EVERYWHERE! That part of the project couldn’t be done soon enough to suit me.
While walls were being built, we made what seemed like a second home at the nearby home improvement center. That was actually lots of fun. I enjoy picking out paint colors, fixtures, faucets, flooring, furniture, and even sinks and toilets. I also became well-acquainted with many of the online and brick-and-mortar home decoration retailers.
Without going into detail of every phase of the construction, after months of construction, decorating and arranging, our “pub” was ready to go. We found excellent craftsmen locally. Virtually every person who worked on our project was local – living within 10-15 miles of our house.
One of the most important purchases was the pool table that both Jim and I so dearly wanted. Luckily for us, one of the top pool table companies in the country (Pro Billiards) is nearby. We found the exact table we wanted on-line and made arrangements for them to install the table when the work was complete. This has proven to be one of the best purchases we’ve made over the years. We really enjoy playing pool every weekend and sometimes during the week.
We were really lucky to find some really cool neon lights and posters. They really make the space!
I was so happy to get all my Secretariat artwork out of the shipping crates it had been in since leaving Georgia all those years ago. I now have my Secretariat corner. I think it looks terrific! What do you think?
Here’s the bar! The lighted shelving on the wall is actually the top of our hutch. We didn’t have room for the top upstairs in the dining area, so it had been sitting in the basement for years. It’s absolutely perfect for this purpose. I couldn’t have found anything better if I’d looked.
The half bath has the neat pump-style faucet I’d wanted ever since I first saw that style in a log home we’d visited several years ago.
The workroom is slowly getting organized. Once that’s in order, I can get back to my stained-glass projects and Jim can get his workbench pulled together. That’s a necessity to begin the next step.
The train area is our next project. Jim has been collecting rolling stock for years. The plan now is to build the benchwork that the layout sits on. I think we’re going to have a wonderful time building the layout with the scenery (trees, bushes, rivers, bridges, etc.) and making our own little H/O-scale world. I’ll be sure to blog about that once we get that in progress.
Looking Forward to “Seeing” You Here Next Time on Colmel’s Blog!