home improvement

Now that fall is fast approaching, the weather is often too cold, too wet, or both to be outside much. We basically lived outside this summer, so it's been an adjustment, especially since Daniel, as an energetic young whelp, needs a certain amount of time to run amuck every day. Our 912 square feet of upstairs space is a little cramped for such activities, and lately I've been anxious to make our basement, which is as big as the upstairs but unfinished, more accommodating as an active play space for both kids. It's a nice basement, really. It doesn't flood, and the 3/4 of it that isn't taken up with the furnace, water heater, water softener and laundry machines is open space, broken only by some 4" thick metal columns that one assumes are necessary for holding up the house. The walls are painted concrete block and the floor is bare concrete. There is no ceiling, just floor joists and duct-work. There are lots of cobwebs.

Around the time we found out I was pregnant with Daniel, we seriously considered hiring a contractor to finish the basement and put in another bathroom and real walls and everything. We even had someone come do an estimate, but we decided it was too much money. In other words, we didn't have that much money and didn't think it would be worth spending on re-modeling a basement in a house we probably won't live in very much longer anyway. It makes me wish I could do some improvements myself, but I don't have the know-how. One of our neighbors re-modeled his house AND built a new garage all by himself with nothing but his own two hands and knowledge from some TimeLife books and videos he borrowed from the public library. I am way impressed with that, but I know I couldn't do it.

Stuart and I are just not DIYers when it comes to home improvement. I have crafty inclinations, and he spent a summer in college on the paint crew, but aside from that we're pretty clueless. When we moved into our house about four years ago, it took us a week to get the washing machine hooked up; we got the hot and cold mixed up and didn't realize we needed new hoses or washers or something like that until my dad (who is quite handy) clued us in.

So we're not finishing the basement, or even improving it in any way. However, I've been working on cleaning stuff out (took a whole carloadf to the thrift store this very afternoon) and re-organizing so that the open part of the basement is actually clear for throwing balls and running around and all those things toddlers like to do. At minimum, we need to put something on that cold, hard, dirty concrete floor. Today at Menards (which we pronounce "my nards" because it's funnier that way) we found the coolest floor covering ever:

They're like squishy interlocking tiles. You can re-arrange them or add to them or move them any time, and they're not at all slippery. We like the bright colors but if you want plain gray, you can flip them over. It's like having a giant yoga mat all over the floor. I'm not sure I want to spend the money to cover the entire floor with these things, but it's nice having a big section (about 6' x 8') already.

We will probably look for big pieces of leftover carpet as well, but I'm not done cleaning up everything yet. In fact, what I need to do next is sweep up a whole bunch of foam packing peanuts that have been scattered around for a while now. For some reason, these stupid friggin' packing peanuts are Daniel's favorite things to play with downstairs. He scoops them up in a little bucket. He hides them in empty detergent bottles. He stuffs them in his suitcase. He whacks at them with a dowel rod. He drops them in an old laundry basket. I could go on, but you get the idea. I keep hoping he'll just get over this phase so I can throw them away without hurting his feelings, but I think that will be a long time coming.

Kids, huh? First they take over your heart and then they take over your house and you don't even mind (much).


Scott said…
We have foam mat stuff for the baby's room and it's awesome. She can tip over and smack her head without getting very upset at all. All kinds of good stuff available here:

Liz said…
We didn't finish our basement right away (it is, now), and my two older kids LOVED having that big space to run around in it! I like those interlocking rubbery squares you used.

I know you're not into do-it-yourself stuff, but I hope -- given your obvious love for your son! -- that you're also really conscious of the things you bring into your home and if they're good for you and the planet. Take a look at Green Goes with Everything. Great book, outlining different ways our homes are making us sick (literally) and what kinds of alternative products we can use instead of toxic products. Give it a look. You can make sure Daniel is green!

Popular Posts