Almost Finished Ceiling

Our 1970s Basement Update: When DIYs are Not Enjoyable

Before & After House & Home

Hey there, friends! I’m currently sipping on coffee in a giant Starbucks, the sun is streaming in the big windows, and writing this blog post – all across the table from the love of my life, who is reading a book for work. And oh yes, it’s my 33rd birthday. 😉

Birthday Starbucks

Birthday Starbucks

One of my goals for Redeeming Hampton this year was to get a few weeks ahead on writing blog posts instead of waiting until the last minute (I certainly have plenty of ideas to write on)! But alas, here I sit, typing away the day before this post is live!

Why is this, you ask? Well friends, I’ve been working my tush off on our basement drop ceiling in 80% of my free time the last few weeks. Today I decided to come up for air, take a deep breath, and share the story with you. Phew.

Growing in Patience

I’ve thought to myself “surely the people following along in this project are sick of hearing about my drop ceiling.” And honestly, I AM sick of talking about it! Haha. But friends, it’s so easy to inundate our eyes and brains and hearts with the beautiful “after” photos or “end of the story.” We miss the process. So when we look up from the scroll and something takes a little bit more time than we want it to – we lose it! Don’t we? Do you? I do. And this project has definitely revealed that in me.

I almost feel like the movement of our culture shouldn’t be how to we make everything quicker, but a slowness that cultivates patience; that’s worth the wait. We don’t have patience for projects or slow internet connections, let alone relationships or things that really matter.

So I’ll continue sharing about my process, because if I only showed you the pretty picture at the end, well, I’d be selling you and myself short of seeing the beauty in the process – the good and bad. I don’t always choose to do DIY projects for enjoyment, but a lot of times for necessity; We wouldn’t have been able to afford this basement update without doing so much of it ourselves!  Isn’t always pretty or perfect or smooth, but I’m learning a lot about myself, patience, and way too much about a topic I wish I didn’t have to learn: drop ceilings.

Drop it Like it’s a Drop Ceiling

If you remember in the back when I first introduced you to our basement project, we were hoping to knock out most if it ourselves, DIY style. It sounded better then than it does now because, well, I’m in the trenches of this project!

Let’s remember the before. The 1970s ceiling was “half-updated” a few years ago, where part of the ceiling was completely new, the grid was painted pink, and new ceiling tiles were put in by the previous owner.

Facing TV

And then there was the rest of the ceiling. It was kinda like a mullet ceiling…two different things going on and it just didn’t fit! Since there’s so many pipes and duct work, the drop ceiling has a few different heights with wood paneling insets where it’s higher.

Basement Before - Wide Shot

Without getting into to many of the nitty gritty details (and there are definitely some gritty ones!), here’s been the process so far for our 400 square foot basement ceiling:

  • We removed all the ceiling tiles. There was a combination of newer 2’x2′ tiles as well as the original foamy 2’x4′ tiles.
  • Removed the lowered portion of the ceiling (under the inset) by using an 1/8 inch drill bit to remove rivets holding up the grid.
    • The previous owner had tried to “even the ceiling height” in one of the inset areas, but we’d rather have the height honestly, so we removed that portion.

Dropped Drop Ceiling

  • Realized our new HVAC was run through a portion of our wall, so I built the jankiest of all grids around it. (Later to find out that I’m going to have to redo it!)

Grid Rig for HVAC

  • We were deciding what to do with the stairwell ceiling, but good news! We removed the ceiling tiles to find an actual plaster ceiling (instead of being open) that an be painted.

Stairwell - Green Ceiling

  • Patched, sanded, and cleaned the grid and inset wood paneling.

Painted Wood Panel Insets

  • Primed and painted the grid and inset wood paneling. (Goodbye pink grid!)
  • Had a plumber and electrician take a look while all the tiles were removed!
    • Our plumber repaired one pipe cap. So pretty much nothing!
  • Our electrician removed the old fluorescent lighting and added 12 can lights! WHAT A DIFFERENCE!

Tiles Removed Can Lighting

Can Lighting - Tiles

  • Started putting in the ceiling tiles…sounds easy right? Y’all, this part has taken me the longest of all! For a few reasons:
    • Our Ceiling Tiles: The previous owner had already left an extra box, so we thought, “Sure! Free tiles! We’ll use what we have.” (Rolling my eyes at my 3-week-ago self.) These tiles don’t have any “give”, they don’t bend, they are SO crumbly, and show even “nick”.
    • Our Grid: Our grid isn’t broken down into perfectly square 2’x2′ sections, so I’ve had to cut 80% of our tiles down using a box cutter. UGH.

Cutting Ceiling Tile

    • Distance from the Top: Since the grid is so close to the beam and ducts, I have to find the “perfect” angle to even fit the darn thing.

Ceiling Tiles Progress

  • Now that you’ve read everything above, guess what? We ran out of tiles. TWICE. So, we had to buy two more boxes…and then needed 5 more tiles…NOTE: A box of 16 tiles is $70. I couldn’t believe the cost! Our ceiling has probably 70 tiles. Luckily, we found a few boxes on clearance and they were barely damaged: 4 tiles for $5 and an entire box of 16 for $5! Thankful for this mercy!

I’m slowly piecing the ceiling together, but it’s definitely trying my energy and patience. I’m exhausted in every way with this ceiling, but I’m in the final pieces (7 left to install – of course they are the tricky ones)! Then, I’ll be touching up the grid with paint. I. Can’t. Wait.

Better Than Before

Before Basement Wide Ceiling

As I near the end of the ceiling, it’s not a beautiful as I imagined – not that a drop ceiling could be that beautiful. There’s gaps and discolorations and it’s not quite “fading away” as I hoped. 🙂 But, let’s remember the before..and now, look where we are. It’s better than before! Ah, and oh how thankful I am for that! When I DIY, I just can’t expect perfection. I’ve learned so much in this process that I wouldn’t have learned by just hiring it out!

Almost Finished Ceiling

So if you’re struggling to enjoy a DIY project, I get it. What’s working for me is to take a step back and a really deep breath. Tackle it in small chunks or set little goals instead of looking at the entire project list at once (power hours are my jam this winter)! Ask for help. Take a few days off to rest. Know that projects seem to ALWAYS take longer than expected – for everyone, not just you!

I had to actually forfeit my timeline for my sanity. We are leaving for Florida a week from today and I was hoping to have the entire ceiling and allll the painting complete before we left. HA! BECAUSE our contractor is coming sometime after we get back from Florida to install our flooring (and I’m not trying to spill paint on my brand new floors!). But, I need to loosen my grip on the control I want to hold so tightly to. This isn’t the “main thing” and we want to keep the main thing, the main thing!

Do you enjoy DIYing? How do you get through the trenches of projects? What helps you get through the ones that aren’t as fun, but you’re looking forward to the outcome? Do you have a specific project that comes to mind?

Godspeed, my friends. Fight to see the beauty in the process, of your projects and your hearts.

In case you missed it, here are the other posts in this series!

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