My Sister's Basement Renovation

From August of 2019 until February of 2020 I drove down to Milwaukee to visit my sister every other weekend (the weekends I didn’t have my boys at home with me). I did this to have someone to be around on the weekends I was alone, but also to help my sister with her big project, which was to finish her basement. My sister often asks for my advice when it comes to decorating her house. She likes the design work I do, and I take this as a compliment. So, whenever she has pictures to hang, I help her. Whenever she has materials to pick out, I help her. So, we’d spend these weekends shopping and then we’d get dinner at a restaurant and watch movies. I loved it. My sister is my best friend and with her company and conversation, I’ve been able to get through being alone. 

I also love designing. Some people find renovations to be a chore. Or they aren’t confident enough in their ability to make things look good, so they dread it. I don’t. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know it’s a hobby. I could design people’s houses all day. So, helping my sister was easy for me, and it was a gift to her.

In her basement, she created an exercise nook, a living area with a big screen TV, a space for her pool table, and a bar area with counter height dining. She also included a half bath. We had to pick out all of the materials: the tile in the bar, the cabinets, the light fixtures, the tile in the bathroom, the paint colors…everything. Then we had to move her living room furniture downstairs, which meant we needed to pick out new living room furniture upstairs. And when everything was picked and installed, we had to decorate. We bought pictures, clocks, and other wall hangings. We stocked her dining hutch with knick knacks. We found vases for her coffee table and throw pillows for the couch. And upstairs we picked a reclining couch that doesn’t look like it belongs in a man-cave, two leather recliners, an area rug, and a coffee table with end tables to match. The best way to describe these spaces that I designed is to show you the pictures.

Here is a picture of the bar area in the basement. Notice the neutral tile backsplash, granite countertops, and cabinets. They hung a TV on one side and open shelving on the other. We found the shelving at Wayfair.

Bar Area
Bar Area

Behind the bar area was a dining space. There were four bar stools and then a four person counter height dining table. Notice the pictures we chose and the light fixtures at the bar. Also notice the vinyl plank floors and area rug. We choose a smoky blue and gray-green palette, along with neutral beiges and creams.

Dining Area
Dining Area

Here’s a close up picture of the living area. We picked blue glass vases as a centerpiece on the coffee table. Also note the throw pillows on the couch and the entertainment center under the TV.

Living Area
Living Area

Last, here’s a picture of the half bath. We went with a 12”X24” tile on the floor. The entire basement was painted a light blue-gray color. We picked a pedestal sink and brushed nickel fixtures. And we found a unique dark walnut colored mirror that my sister already had in storage.

Half Bath
Half Bath

I really liked the color palette we worked with for this project. It was soft and subtle, but worked for a man-cave too. My favorite part was the backsplash in the bar area with the open shelving. I thought that turned out beautifully. It was fun spending someone else’s money! And we spent a lot of it! Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll get to do this for a living.


  1. Michelle May 17, 2020 at 10:15 pm

    You are my best friend too. I don’t know what I would do without you as my sister!

    • Kara May 17, 2020 at 10:37 pm

      Awww. Thanks. Love you.

    • Ron Kesterke May 18, 2020 at 12:39 am

      The TV above the bar is larger than the one in our living room……

      • Kara May 18, 2020 at 12:58 am

        Mine too.

        • Sheri May 18, 2020 at 10:22 am

          Nice job! Love you both Kara and Michelle!

          • Kara May 26, 2020 at 12:55 am

            Thanks, Sheri! Love you too!