Brightening Up Our Lower Level

With Jack and I both being busy at work lately, I’m finally getting around to posting one of the things Jack and I have been up to the past few weeks. I didn’t dislike our lower level living room but it was just really dark. There was only one small light above the fireplace and with a lot of shade in our backyard, we don’t get a whole lot of natural light through the windows. We wanted to brighten it up more after we finished the fireplace and added some recessed ceiling lights, so we started on adding some wainscoting all around the room.

It made this basement level room so much brighter and it just feels so much nicer! Here’s what the room looked like before and how we DIY’ed some wainscoting:

We started off by removing all of the oak trim. Then, we put up 3’x 8′ sheets of MDF board all around the room using a nail gun. It’s easier to see in the “before” picture below that there is a ledge under the window on one side so we kept the wainscoting at that height all the way around the room.

DIY wainscoting

DIY wainscoting

We cut strips of MDF at 5 3/8″ (the same width as the rest of our baseboards) and nailed them to the top and bottom of the sheets. Next, we cut pieces of MDF for the styles to attach vertically to the boards already up. We first spaced them out to make sure all of the seams from the 3’x8′ sheets were covered and then we played around with how many “sections” we wanted between the seams. With the styles 4 1/4″ wide, it worked out to space them out about 15 1/4″ apart. Instead of measuring and marking for every piece, we just cut a scrap piece of wood at 15 1/4″ to make sure the spacing was even throughout.

DIY wainscoting

After all of the MDF pieces were up, we caulked the seams and edges and sanded them all down.

DIY wainscoting

For the cap on top, we put a 1″ x 2″ piece of maple all the way around and then a small piece of pine trim underneath the cap to create additional shadow lines. It made all the difference to add the cap or else it would have looked like we just slapped some boards on the wall and painted them. Although that is kind of what we did 🙂

DIY wainscoting

Then, it needed LOTS of paint. We did a lot of this on a Saturday and got most of the coats done in one day. We ended up doing one coat of Rust-Oleum Primer and 3 coats of Sherwin Williams Pro Classic paint in “Origami white.”

DIY wainscoting

DIY wainscoting

You can see how what a difference it makes!

Before

DIY wainscoting

Now I need to figure out how to style the mantle and rearrange some furniture. The next project is to build a built-in entertainment center for the TV in the corner.

DIY wainscoting

We also ended up re-painting the room a little bit darker because once the wainscoting was up, there wasn’t enough contrast between the walls and the white wainscoting. Even though we just painted it a couple of months ago. Just another thing I changed my mind about 🙂 Anyways, that’s what we’ve been up to this past week! Thanks again for stopping by!

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