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Please help me with my basement! (organizing/decorating)

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I also posted this in MHM, but wasn't sure if I might get more ideas from here or not ... if I could find our digital camera I would post pics, but I think DH took it to work with him so until it returns or I find it around here I'm not able to take the pics ...

I am trying to decide what to do with my basement to make it more usable. It is carpeted, but has very, very small windows, several of which DH has covered with an ugly pink styrofoam to help keep the drafts down. We live in a house built in 1917 and I believe these are the original windows. My long-term goal is to put in new, larger (egress (SP?)) windows and brighten it up as much as possible, but we are soooooo broke right now, I don't see that happening for several years. Painting may be an option in the summer, but with so little ventilation and the frigid cold right now (we are in the upper midwest) I don't think I could reasonably paint it right now with my allergies and DC's asthma.

So, what I have to work with right now is a fairly large open area with white, cheap carpet and orange walls (look like they were sponge painted), very dark with only a couple tiny windows to let light in, and a section in one corner with wood laminate where I have my office area set up.

We have a TV/VCR down there but I am hoping to encourage other activities. My DC are 2 and 5 1/2 years old, the older one with autism and developmentally closer to 2 than 5. They love large motor activities so I am considering one of those inflatable bounce castles or something else to help them burn energy since their asthma and lung issues make outside play in the winter safe only on warmer days. I would also like it to be a warm, homey, inviting place to be, which right now it isn't.

Any ideas? Anyone have any great toddler-friendly structures or activity suggestions for burning lots of energy? Any suggestions for decent lighting? There are a few overhead lights but they seem to burn out insanely quick, so I think there is something up with our wiring. Also, there are only two single-socket outlets in the whole basement, one on each end, so not a lot of options for plugging in lights or anything else. I have one end probably dangerously overloaded with my office equipment, so I have a mega-power surge protector in hopes of not starting any fires, but the people that remodeled the basement right before we moved in sheetrocked over the entire room, burying everything in the process so I have no idea if or where any other outlets might be present. (We really hope to redo the whole thing, but again it will be a few years down the road.)

Anyway,

Thanks for any ideas!!!
post #2 of 5
My first thought without seeing pics is that you could easily cover the walls AND the windows with fabric. You and the kids could pick out something fun, or just use a solid color, and make giant curtains that cover the entire wall. It sounds a little odd but I have done that to cover my FIL's bookshelves temporarily, because all the patterns and junk in this room create a lot of anxiety.

What about those great big cardboard blocks that look like bricks? If you have a lot of room, that's an ideal toy. I used to love them but they take up a lot of space, so they aren't practical for a small room.

You could also get those big foam puzzle mats for the kids; that would at least cover some of the cheap carpeting. My kids looooove those things - my mom has them at her house and she puts them down on hard surfaces when the baby is crawling around.

That's all I can come up with at 12:30am.
post #3 of 5
oops double
post #4 of 5
just a couple of ideas.
full length brightly colored curtains hung from floor to cieling around the windows will make them look like full size windows. you could make them insulated so when you close them at night it would keep out the drafts, but open durring the day. (keep a set of sheers as a full lenght window treatment even when the heavy ones are opened)
ohh well, no more typing ds has decided to help

one more word to mention... IKEA! they have some great things inexpensively priced
post #5 of 5
I'd definitely use light, bright colors.

Someone posted a toy a while back that was basically large, colored PVC-type pipes and connectors that kids could use to build forts and playsets with. They looked super cool and might be a good activity for you DC. If they are too expensive, you could proabably copy the idea with PVC pipes from the hardware store and sew your own curtains (Family Fun has had several of these types of projects in their magazine/website).
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