The entire house was a disaster, and the basement fell to the bottom of our list. As the years passed it began to look worse as the basement flooded twice (busted water heater, then incorrectly fastened laundry hose) and the carpet had to be ripped up. Does bare concrete look worse than dirty, ugly, forty-year-old carpeting? In a word, yes!
When Nemo got his new job, at a Catholic university about an hour away, we were relieved because he could commute while we tried to sell the house. So in April we contacted a realtor--the same one who sold us the house, so she knew what it looked like before--and she loved the upgrades we had made on the upper floor. But, she said, the basement had to be "seen to". In order to list it as a finished basement we would have to put down some carpeting, and she also recommended painting the paneling to brighten it up a bit.
The last two months before Conor was born I spent getting ready for his arrival. Luckily, after he was born I was up and about relatively quickly so I could "see to" the basement.
Step 1: Wash the walls. They were gross. 'Nuff said. (FREE)
Step 2: Apply a coat of stain-blocking primer ($20)
Step 3: Paint paneling a nice cream color ($20)
Step 4: Take down bi-fold doors (FREE)
Step 5: Replace bi-fold doors with curtains that I made with fabric I got on clearance at fabric.com ($60)
Step 6: Nemo's dad comes over and helps him replace the exterior door and the door leading to the garage. Neither closed properly and were peeling relics. ($500)
Step 7: Have professionals come over to install the absolute cheapest carpet available. ($1000)
Step 8: Stage basement with spare tv, couch, coffee table, plus my desk and computer (FREE)
So for the low low price of $1600 we got this basement:
And now potential buyers won't be frightened away! Hooray!