Bottom Dwellers

 We are re-finishing the basement.  It had been finished and had some now-eradicated mold issues and needed to be sheet rocked again.  Bother.  As with basements everywhere, I am less interested (read: not interested at all) and Bill and the boys are very interested.  Mr. B has asked me a million questions, to which my standard reply has been, “I don’t care, do what you want, I’m never going down there.”  And I meant it.  But now it’s time to paint.

I was intrigued by the palettes which came with Phoebe Howard’s book.  I did want something neutral but not nothing.  There is no way to tell this, but Cream Fleece and Winter Wheat are both very nice Ben Moore neutrals that look like nothing here, but they are not.  Once the swatches were up I asked the middle, “Which one do you like best?”

“What’s going in here?”

“What do you mean?”

“What other furniture?  What colors?  What’s going in here?”

“I don’t know.”

“How can I tell you what I like better when I don’t know what’s going to be in the rest of the room?”

“That’s a good question.”  The right question.  The only question.  To which I have no answer.  “Now, go do your homework.”

My only real input to date is on keeping the window.  The other opinions ranged from indifferent to “definitely not,” and these included my four men and a variety of mold-removal and drywall guys.

There remains a hand-painted mural from the original “bar” that was in the basement.  I think basements have mostly been ruled by men and I feel some kindred spirit to the woman who commissioned this.

Did she yearn to live on an urban, cobblestone street?

To buy flowers from a street vendor and walk her dog on a cool, crisp morning?

Did she say, “What are you looking at?” to her husband as he peered over his shoulder at the hottie in the black hat?  We won’t know.  But it does seem that she was trying to instill a bit of something in her bottom dwellers and I refuse to give it up without a fight.  I mean, they made me go to Nebraska Furniture Mart.  I think I deserve this.

Paint color card available with The Joy of Decorating when you order from her site here and enter code MBJOD.

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24 thoughts on “Bottom Dwellers

  1. We are in the midst of the same basement project. Please share your selections. I'm sure I'm not the only one who could use some basement inspiration!

  2. I love the window and the painting! What a gem and worth the fight! I had to go to NFM last weekend and immediately began pouting the minute we walked in.

  3. That mural is screaming for mid-century modern: black leather sofa and chairs with chrome lamps and a white rug. Of course, the boys are too young for cocktails, but perhaps an invasion is in order.

  4. That mural is absolutely DIVINE! What a wonderful 'inheritance' from your previous owners. In my own basement, the previous owners 'generously' left us two old, very heavy, very ugly (non-working) white fridges…

  5. I am working on a basement room too – so please MORE MORE! Carpeting? What to do?
    I adore the panel. I wouldnt dream of letting it go!

  6. I absolutely love that mural; it reminds me of my collection of vintage Paris prints! Isn't it fun to see what other people have left behind?

  7. LOVE the mural! My basement thing I did right: industrial strength cut & loop carpet (shows no seams – will last longer than I want it to)& thing I did wrong: a bar in the corner that takes up too much room & who needs to encourage boys to sit at bars? I'm seeing a black wrought iron tall table instead or an ice cream table & chairs, carrying out the iron railing thingy in the mural. But also love the mid-century modern idea, too. Bring in that orange for sure! Maybe some awning fabric: Sunbrella makes fabulous fabric (thinking stripes)that don't feel like they just belong on lawn chair cushions. What I did right in my country house: washable slipcovers. My boys fight over who sits in the MG Alexa slipped chair – must buy another one. The other right: definitely the price on the slipcovers I made out of painter's drop cloths.

  8. I think the window is odd, maybe its a guy thing. The mural is sweet though, I say keep it.

    Just walking into The Mart used to make my head hurt, but after ordering my bench and end tables I'm kind of a fan of the Design Gallery.

  9. I swear we had this mural (or very close) in our house when I was a kid in the 50's- butterfly chairs , a white sofa about ten inches off the floor and 10 feet long- a lot of iron legs on tables – Not very kid friendly but I remember it as much cooler than my friends Early American.

  10. I use ICI-Dulux paint color Parchment. It changes colors. In a basement it would be Grand. That mural + window is divine.

  11. The street scene painting is a treasure, oh those lovely muted colors. If there's nothing behind that mullioned window, you might grab that, too, and run upstairs and hang them both together somewhere fabulous. And look at the favor you'd have done them, now there's a perfect little niche waiting for the dartboard.


  12. I agree – I HATE basements and never understand people's obsession with them. However -that little window and mural could get me down there – totally adorable!

  13. Love the title and substance of your post…We can all identify…it brings to mind Joni's post regarding ceiling fans from long ago…

  14. What a charming mural! So much better than the yellow-painted paneling and filthy carpet (now gone) that was left in my basement. If you want to see an outstanding basement reno, google designer Tricia Foley's basement redo.

  15. Mrs. B.- I live in an apt. bldg. in the city where once there was a charming mural painted in the lobby. New owners came and out went the mural. Now there is only a bad, gold Mona Lisa. You are lucky to have it. Should you decide to paint over it though, it could be stored digitally for posterity. Your sons may want to remember it one day.

  16. If the men-folk insist on getting rid of the mural, perhaps you can cut it out of the wall ? It needs to be saved from the wrecking ball!

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