DIY Magic Tricks to Stun and Amaze! | by Peter F Gibson

Do you live right above a basement that looks like the inside of a well used ashtray? Did an overworked, underachieving alcoholic construction foreman leave it half finished, furnishing you with 2 to 4 tiny and extremely ugly wannabe windows? Windows that are almost too high to reach and yet visible enough to poke tiny little needles into your decorating eyes?

When it's late at night and you sneak downstairs for a quick cigar/glass of wine, does that basement seem to cast a disproportionate amount of shadows, looking at you through shadowy, evil eyes, quietly sneering with the maniacal grin of some hideous, satanic, soul-sucking beast?

OK, OK, enough. As you can tell I have a flare for the dramatic. There is a point behind my prose, so I'll postulate already. There are things that you can do - mostly on the cheap and on your own - to make any basement eyesore look significantly better. In most cases you need only shell out for minor purchases, improvising with things that you already have laying around, or things that someone is dying to get rid of at a garage sale.

So here are some tips to exercise the demons away from the Evil Basement of Abyss.

If you do actually have those tiny little wannabe windows residing far too close to the ceiling, one cheap trick is to take some long-ish fabric blinds, pleat them once or twice, and install them just above the offending buggers, covering the windows along with some of the wall...presto, the illusion is complete. You've now got proportionate windows in your basement (until someone peaks) and now you can set out to properly pull rabbits from behind them.

If your basement is one sprawling sea of nothingness - semi-finished and unorganized - here's a trick I have used on many occasions when budgets were smaller than those tiny little evil windows. This trick comes in steps, and here they are:

* scour garage sales and used furniture stores for some old, large, shelving units and get a matching set. Those old massive bookshelves can work great for "basement hacks" of all kind.

* Purchase paint, preferably of a color that won't make Sparky the Dog have an epileptic seizure.

* Knock out the back walls of said recently purchased shelving units, making them open on both sides. Then you can sand down any problem spots and paint. Oi! Wait for the paint to dry, yes? Place the shelves at right angles to the wall, in areas you think would seem natural for room division.

* Angle them to mimic a new wall - as in - pointing at each other (not leaning against the walls).

* Adorn the empty shelf space with anything from model cars to framed photos, candles to magic 8 balls. Anything. Really.

Presto, you have created the illusion of separation in the room, allowing for two easily definable areas, such as a sitting room + a games room, or a laundry room + workout area. If it were up to my son there would be a Playstation 3 room, and a XBox 360 room, but I digress.

If you have a washroom in the basement it is usually a bathroom that any self respecting vampire would avoid like daylight. Since it is the dreaded "basement washroom", it is possible that the room fell victim to the "We Be Out Of Cash" phase of construction. You might be stuck with dirty or cheap tile, the space might be small, constricting, half built, and just generally neglected in all areas. I see this far more often than not.

To make that washroom truly appeal to your finer sensibilities, it will cost some money. This is the one area you don't want to bargain your way around. Don't get me wrong however, it won't be all that much money to decorate, and in the end it will be worth it.

Firstly, redo the floors and walls. I like to use lighter shade, large-ish stone tiles, as in marble or even certain ceramics. Smaller spaces look more regal when they have a heavier feel. Take advantage of wall finishes that will compliment stone tiles, perhaps even going with dark wood or deeper paint colors.

To go the extra mile, clear as much space between the toilet and the rest of the washroom as you can. For example, if you fell victim to that lame, nonsensical, prefabricated cabinetry around the sink assembly - as most basement washrooms do - rip it to shreds and replace it with a thin fixture (sans cabinet), or perhaps a sink that rests on it's own raised shelf with exposed stainless pipes below. Look below for just one example of this.

If you do have a shower in the bathroom, consider tiling the entire enclosure in marble/ceramic tiles, raising a small section of floor between the shower and the rest of the washroom to catch excess water. Grab up and install one of the Kazillion gorgeous shower-head assemblies that exist these days (some wonderful examples below) and don't even bother installing a shower door. If you accessorize this area with complimentary towels, strategically placed framed art, and light the room properly, you'll find that a shower door is not required. This will considerably open up the area, and by using the same tiling patterns throughout the entire washroom you are creating another illusion, the entire area will feel waterproof.

All in all, you could reasonably complete a task like this at a very reasonable price, if you don't mind the hard work and assuming your DIY skills are up to snuff. At least then you can rest assured that there will be no portals to the dark side opening up underneath you as you sleep upstairs.

Once you are thinking along these lines, any neglected area of your home could be spruced up with a little like minded thought and some elbow grease. At Interior Living Room we promote this kind of creativity. Take a minute to look around at things you have packed away. If they are completely useless and taking up space, find the clues that can make one object work in an entirely different context. Sometimes the grandest ideas come from the most unlikely beginnings. I once used an old window frame we had laying around our shop as a feature mantle piece in an outrageously expensive Vancouver area penthouse. I'm not joking. It sat directly above a wonderfully appointed faux fireplace. It came complete with discolored and broken glass panes, rusted hinges, et all. The end result of that experiment was more striking than I could have ever imagined.

So say your hail Marys, make a good and cheap-ish DIY plan, and become the Interior Design and decorating expert yourself.

About the Author

Peter Gibson is an interior design expert of 20 + years and an accomplished author on the subject. He has also written for many publications and penned 2 best selling novels. His design works include the redesign of a popular New York recording studio, redesigns and upgrades of countless homes, and he renovates challenging older condo/ apartments as a part of his charity work abroad. You can find him at the Interior Living Room musing and waxing philosophical on most days.

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