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SweetSpace Community Basement Project

This project was a labor of love. It started with a desire: "to make-over a space in a deserving family's home." But how to find the people I wanted to connect with? How to fund it?

All I knew was that I wanted the family to be one who supports foster care and local adoption. First, I created an application- it would help the selection process. Families needed to disclose their annual earnings, their fostering/adoption history, their ideal space to be made-over, what they enjoy doing as a family and three wishes for their children (foster, adopted and bio). Next, I reached out to a local non-profit, Northern Virginia Family Service. They were able to send my application to families who fostered; and by partnering with them, I was able to make all my incoming donations tax-deductible. Applications rolled in, the family was selected and then the real work began.

The Reveal!

I had a site visit to meet the family and see/measure the space, wrote lots of emails to vendors for donations and started trying to raise money. I made furniture selections- which having to stay on a super tight budget was really hard. I also had to make reselections due to products getting sold out or not arriving in the timeframe I needed. I was fortunate to have all the paint donated by Sherwin Williams and my contractor, Jeff with Old Town Renovations worked for a discounted price. I had set aside $3,000 from my company to cover costs but was really hoping to have enough donations to cover a lot of it. The family didn't give me any direction- they were just grateful for a make-over! The kids love to game and they sometimes study in the current space, so I wanted to create ample storage, have a designated study space, fit a full-sized sofa and provide better light. I also had hopes of getting them a smart TV and just make the space a fun place the kids would want to hang out.

The first thing was taking care of lighting. The 140 sq. ft. open space had 5 flushmount lights. We eliminated 4 and then replaced the center with this large 8 bulb light fixture that gave off lots of light. We replaced the downlight at the foot of the stairs with an LED bulb and added a reading light over the sofa.

I loved that they had a chalkboard wall and wanted to integrate the bulkhead and make it feel more substantial- so we painted that too. Then for the rest of the space, we brightened it up with a really nice light neutral gray, SW7653 Silverpoint in a matte finish (it hides imperfections but more washable than flat). The floors were unfinished concrete and raw wood steps, so we used a deck and floor paint to bring a fun blue, SW6221 Moody Blue to an unexpected place. By adding base molding, we made the space more finished. We also closed in a wall opening, fixed drywall, and added a handrailing for safety. The ceiling was painted in SW6203 Spare White which wasn't as bright of a white as a typical ceiling paint.

Brigher, lighter and so much fun!

Furniture. We reused their large FULL OF LEGOS dresser for under the TV. It grounded the space with a warm wood while everything else was more modern and white. I got the least expensive yet most comfortable sofa I could from Ikea. The size, color and comfort were right! Paired with metal storage tables on casters, warm wood nesting tables (to balance the dresser), a bean bag and a light sling chair - the space is all about flexibility. The large white storage unit is segmented and easy to access for toys, arts and craft supplies and also anchored to the wall. The desk zone has a lamp, bulletin board, shelves and a drawer. It's tucked into the corner where someone can put on headphones and work, while another kid reads or watches a movie.

Let's talk budget. This project- with ALL the design work completely donated cost was $4,197.51.

Project Breakdown

Contractor Fees: $1583.39 (Would've been closer to $2,500)

Paint: 0 ((Would've cost about $500)

Furniture and Accessories: $2,616.12


$4,199.51 could have easily been $5,616.12

(I received $806 in product donations via Amazon and $450 in monetary donations.)

So, when you want to do a project remodel, keep this in mind. This project was less than 200 square feet, had minor electrical and drywall work done and almost 100% new furniture all sourced from as inexpensive as possible: Ikea, Wayfair and Amazon. Things add up FAST.

But most importantly, the family was incredibly happy with their new space and very grateful for the opportunity to have their unfinished and crowded basement made into a useable space for their kids to hang out! I look forward to doing another community project in the future and am SO grateful for all the people who contributed their time and resources to this effort.


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