Tales of Painted Basement Ceilings and Pole Dancing Woes

When we sold our old house, one of the things we were most sad to leave behind was our finished basement.  We put in so much work to make that basement beautiful, so it really hurt to give it up. The movie room with all that amazing molding and those gorgeous cabinets?? I was sad to leave them behind. Click here to tour the basement in the old house.

BUT… our new house had a large unfinished basement space that we knew we could make functional for our family.

We knew going into this project that it would not be nearly as decorative and crown-mouldy as the old one. Mainly we just wanted a large open space to serve as a rec room for entertaining and another smaller room for J to have an office.   We also wanted some really big storage spaces that could be closed off to not see all of our ugly junk.

Here are the “Before” photos so you can see what we were working with.

Just a standard issue poured concrete basement.  Big, open space. No windows, no plumbing.  Very straightforward.

The Biggest Challenges

  1. Eight metal support poles to work around
  2. Super low ceiling height

One of the biggest, if not THE biggest, downsides to this house was the basement ceiling height.  The ceiling is SUPER low down there, at some points it’s barely above 6′-8″ high.  Considering my husband is 6′-2″ high, this was a serious issue. We knew that we would never be able to put in a sheetrock or drop ceiling down there because it would lower the ceiling height even further.

You can see the doors leaning against the wall here- they are 6′-8″ high and they barely wiggle under that air duct.

So, we needed to find a better solution.  At first we talked about spraying everything matte black for that industrial vibe, but I worried a dark black ceiling would visually lower the ceiling height even further. Then we considered spraying the whole ceiling bright white, but we decided that would not look good either with all the nails and junk that was sticking out of the rafters.

If you want to see an example of what a painted white basement ceiling looks like, check out my friend’s room over at One Project Closer:  How to Paint a Basement Ceiling with Exposed Joists for an Industrial Look

Soooooo we finally compromised on a matte blue color.

We chose Sherwin Williams Smoky Blue (SW 7604) in a flat finish.  This is the same color that we used on the ceiling in the old basement movie room, so we knew that we already liked the color.

Since there were so many pipes and ducts and things blocking different parts of the walls, I was really concerned that it would hard to figure out where the walls ended and the ceiling began.

To even everything up, we chose a line on the wall that was relatively clear from obstructions to use as our guideline. Everything above the line was sprayed blue and everything below that point was painted a crisp, clean white color.  (Sherwin Williams Westhighland White- 7566)

My AWESOME painter, Francisco, has done all the painting in our old houses and most of the painting in our new house too. He is the best of the best, so if you ever need a good painter in the Birmingham area give me a shout so I can give you his number.  Hola, Francisco! He sprayed the entire ceiling in just one day using his big industrial sprayer.

Ok, on to dilemma #2.

See alllllll of those red metal poles?  Since I did not want my house to fall in around my ears one night while I was watching Outlander, all eight of those metal poles had to stay in place.

They were also not in alignment with any main walls, which was frustrating.

I just had to figure out how to pole-dance my way around them. 😉

So I set out to draw up a floor plan that would hide as many of the metal posts as possible inside of closets or storage spaces.  Here is what I designed:

You can see from the Key that the small aqua blue circles are all the metal support poles.  The other circles are pendant lights and can lights that we added in the ceiling, so don’t let those confuse ya. I managed to work up a plan that placed five of the poles inside closets and left one more out in the unfinished area.

Just like in the previous basement, the J and his dad did all the framing and we hired out the rest of the work to subcontractors (sheetrock/paint/electrical/flooring).  We saved so much money doing it this way versus working with a contractor.  Semi-DIY is the way to go, IMO. We have access to a lot of really excellent subcontractors, though, so that helps.

When it was all said and done, we only had two exposed beams to cover up in the center of the large room. We were able to take it from this…

To this!

How awesome is that?

The other posts are hidden inside the closets.  Out of sight, out of mind. We didn’t box these in- they just got sprayed the same white color as the walls.

The two columns got trimmed out with 6″ Speedbase around the bottom and the top. It’s a simple but elegant way to finish off a sheetrock column.

Here is the office area we created right when you walk down the steps from upstairs.

And here it is finished!

The water heater and air handler right against the staircase, so we needed to have easy access to those.

To take care of that, J and his dad built out a big storage closet with two 3 foot wide doors that provide a 6 foot opening for easy access.

And here is that area with the doors closed- the door on the right leads to the storage area under the stairs, which makes an excellent storm shelter during tornado season.

Here’s another before shot of that area that leads to the stairwell.

And here is the finished area.

Back out in the big room we added a MASSIVE storage closet

This area will hold all my Christmas decorations, including the tree. In fact, we don’t even have to take the tree apart anymore.  It can just slide right into this closet full erect and still have plenty of room for other stuff!  It’s great!

This door leads out to the unfinished parking area of the garage and J’s woodshop.

I’m SO pleased with how the color scheme turned out. It’s neutral and manly but not too man-cavish.  The wood floors are the exact same ones we used up in my attic office.  They are a cork-backed vinyl that snap together really easily.  They are completely moisture resistant so perfect for a basement floor.

J bought these industrial pendant lights for really cheap from Amazon.  They are actually a hunter green color but you cannot even tell with that dark blue ceiling.  They just blend right in.

So there you go!

The Great Basement Remodel is almost complete.  We still need a few little things like doorknobs and door stops, but it’s already being used by the family.

I will be sharing how we decorated it very soon, so be on the lookout for those posts.  The office area is GOOOOORRRRGEOUS now!! I cannot wait to show you what the finished room looks like!



If you are interested in finishing out your attic space and want all the details of how we created this room, here ya go! (contains affiliate links)
Wall Paint: Sherwin Williams Superpaint in Westhighland White (Satin finish)

Ceiling Pain: Sherwin Williams ProMar 400 in Smoky Blue (Flat finish)

Flooring: Coretec 7″ wide Kingswood Oak from Carpet Express (ask for Gabriel, he’s awesome)

Base trim: 4″ white Colonial style baseboard

Doors: Jeld-Wen Smooth 5-panel interior prehung doors (various sizes)

Door handles: Kwikset Cove door knobs in Venetian Bronze

Pendant lights: Sea Gull one-light pendant, green finish

White switches and electrical outlet covers

Don’t forget to pin these before and afters pictures to your favorite Pinterest board! 🙂


Like this post?  Come see how we decorated the office area here: 

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Speak Your Mind



  1. You are an excellent designer! Your new basement is fantastic!

  2. There are so many great takeaways in this fabulous room remodel. Truly wonderful work!
    It was such a treat to sit next to you at the Haven closing ceremony. I was quietly having a “fangirl” moment.

  3. Beth, it looks fantastic!! Love the color scheme!

  4. Wow Beth! What a gorgeous job! I grew up in the Midwest and now live on the East Coast. I miss having a basement! I can’t wait to see it decorated! You rock!

  5. What a transformation!! I love it! We will be finishing our basement next year- thanks for the inspiration and tips!

  6. That was super awesome! Spraying the ceiling gray was so smart! It looks terrific!

  7. Spraying the ceiling was sort on ingenious! Loving the transformation. My basement is already finished but you are making me want to rip out the drywall on the ceiling and industrial-ize it!

  8. Beth! You guys knocked it out of the park. Wow! Now I have basement envy. ♡♡

  9. This looks amazing!! I am super jealous of that large storage space–that’s going to be so handy 🙂

  10. Lisa Mothersead says:

    Boy, you really have an eye for details and it looks great! Good job!

  11. Most excellent!!

  12. Wow Beth! That room is amazing!! I totally love that ceiling. Have fun in your new space!

  13. Wow! This looks fabulous! I love how you dealt with the low ceiling and that massive closet – who doesn’t need one of those! Pinned. You’ve inspired me to think about doing something to my unfinished basement.

  14. Oh, Beth! This is FABULOUS!!!!! I’m going to have to look into that moisture resistant wood floor for my basement if I get to buy the house I’m currently renting. I’d love to really turn it into a usable space. Oh, and that paint on the ceiling – stealing that too. And the hiding columns in closets. And…

    Heck, just come to Missouri and do mine for me! (Bring hubby and the cute kids and Francisco too). While you’re here, we’ll do my attic studio too.

  15. Looks amazing. I’m trying to decide between spraying light or dark for the ceilling. One question, what factors went into your lighting decisions, ie when and where to place pendant lights vs pot lights.

    • My husband bought six pendant lights so I just spaced them out around the room as equally as possible. The can lights were supplied by the electrician and we just put them in the areas that were darkest.

      We used LED bulbs so it is bright down there!

  16. Mario Rodriguez says:

    Awesome work! The basement looks spectacular!
    I’m looking to do the same with a basement of mine, I am looking to demo the whole basement and have nothing but the foundation, what would you say your cost was all in all? I’m trying to get an estimate so I can have an idea of what it would cost me. Thank you!

  17. My hubby and I have this exact problem in our basement. I would love to have a basement outcome such as yours, it fabulous. I will try to recreate this lovely basement of yours.

  18. Thank you so much for sharing this! We have a very similar basement and I have been stumped for years on how to deal with the ceiling of ducts, plumbing and such. Love how your basement turned out. Your design has definitely inspired me.

  19. How warm is this basement with no insulation just painted ceiling? But even thought it looks great!

  20. We’ve had a leaky kitchen ceiling for the past few years, so will have to pull out all the drywall that is now moldy. Instead of replacing the ceiling, we will be painting the exposed unfinished ceiling joists like you did in your basement. That smoky blue color would be perfect for us, and looks fantastic! Great choice, thank you.

  21. We are getting ready for giving our basement some love and this post is totally inspiring me! Can you tell me what your trim paint color is? I hope my basement turns out like yours!

  22. This is almost exactly what I’m looking to do in my basement, but I was wondering what kind of paint you used on the ceiling?

  23. Very nice! How much paint to finish the ceiling? Our basement is 1300 SF. I love the color. We close on a house in two weeks with a finished basement but unfinished ceiling. My wife and I are not in agreement on white or black (ultimately it is probably my decision). I like the Smoky Blue. I have been considering a midnight blue, but that is almost black.

  24. This looks great! We’re looking to finish our basement and want to stick with the basics. I hadn’t considered a painted ceiling. May I ask what do you budget for something like this?

  25. Did you insulate the exterior walls? If so did you use vapor barriers or just allow an air gap?

  26. Gorgeous! We have the same type of basement if not way scarrier, this gives me hope. We are starting the planning process. Did you ever think of leaving the big ducting silver?

  27. Currently starting a similar basement project. Your ducts looks so nice (they have been my biggest concern about painting), but yours look covered in some kind of cloth? What is that? Where do u buy it?

  28. For some reason I teared up when I finished this post! I’ve been so frustrated with out new house! A finished basement was at the top of my list because as a child i was terrified of the basement. I don’t know how I ended up in a house with another basement I’m afraid to go in but this post helped so much! our basement ceilings are ridiculously low and we didn’t know how we were going to make this work. Thank you SO much! This is a fix we hadn’t even considered and I know my husband will he on board!

  29. I can’t even handle how AMAZING this transformation is. Holy Buckets!! I’ve been scouring Pinterest for over a year gathering ideas on what we can do with our short tiny little basement and this is BY FAR one of the prettiest before and afters I’ve come across. Way to go, lady!

  30. This looks awesome! I’m curious about the sound with having the ceiling unfinished. Can you hear what is going on in the basement from your main level? And furthermore if you’re in your office is it pretty distracting if someone else is in the rec room?

  31. I was wondering if you insulated at all? We are wanting to put a couple bedrooms in our basement and was wondering how spraying foam insulation first would work. I was curious if you or anyone else had any knowledge or thoughts on that


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