Let there be light (Townhouse #4)

The first thing I had to do, if we were going to take the basement from Dank Cave Hole to Welcoming Family Room, was make sure it enjoyed as much natural light and air as possible.

basement entry before

Begone, door!

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After I took off the door, I ripped out most of the framing. I moved it farther over towards the wall and lifted the header as high as I could without hitting the HVAC ducts hidden up there – a full 8′.

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Looks a bit funny because it’s still so narrow, but that can’t be helped. Now the light from the glass back door shines directly down the stairs.

It was surprisingly frustrating – ripping out and reframing all that stuff should have taken me less than a day, and it took me 2 instead. Didn’t make it any faster that I’m scared of heights. I was working above my head, reaching up as far as I could while balancing on top of a narrow, unstable stepladder, perched on a tiny landing, at the top of a long flight of stairs! There was a lot of trembling and forgetting to breathe. There was an unspeakable, unladylike amount of sweating. I am glad that part of the project is over. TAKE THAT, STAIRCASE.

But that wasn’t even the crowning glory of this part of the project. I needed to open up the wall that was keeping the staircase looking narrow and dark. (Dark when it’s not full of camera flashes… you’ll just have to take my word for it.)

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Opening that wall would let the basement breathe, let in a lot more light, visually open and join the two spaces, make the staircase seem wider, and make the basement seem so much less cut-off and cavelike.

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Heck yeah.

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This was the nerve-wracking part. I could still stop at this part.

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It wasn’t a bearing wall, so I didn’t have to worry about structure much – though I acted as though I did, and supported it with a heavy header made of 2 2x6s, glue, plywood, and about a hundred and four 3″ nails.

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No turning back now…

These two following are looking up the stairs from the basement. This “before” was taken around 1pm:

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And this “after” was taken at dusk. But look how much more open it is! Even with no natural light it already looks brighter.

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Yes, there’s going to be a railing in that new hole – but I can’t put it in until the drywall is up. It’s gonna look great when that happens, though. Everything tidied up, all the rough corners tucked neatly away. Excited about drywall… I am the dorkiest.

I’m so pleased with how this turns out. It’s not often that a project small enough to take only a day can make a dramatic difference.

 

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