Basement Updates: Using Gift Wrap To Obscure Clear Doors

We’re back with our weekly basement update (here’s where we left off) and this week we painted the dingy built-in cabinet, added some art, obscured the semi-sheer doors to our armoires and brought in a bevy of bins to organize everything we have on hand (and everything we’re sure we’ll acquire down the line- now there’s lots of room to grow). Here’s just a taste of the latest updates:

But before we get to all the dirty details we owe a huuuuuge thank you to the wonderful peeps at True Value who made a lot of this week’s undertakings possible thanks to their generous gift card (which we’ve been using left and right these days). True Value was the source of the paint for the built-in and a slew of storage bins that we picked up to maximize both armoires and the space under the little Ikea table that we already owned near the door. Our basement never looked so good. Seriously the spiders who used to live down there wouldn’t even recognize the place. Thanks True Value!

But back to this week’s latest projects. First we grabbed some crisp white semi-gloss paint to clean up the built-in wall cabinet that we inherited with the house (we have big plans for what we’ll store there so stay tuned). Here’s what we started with, just to refresh your memory:

And here’s how it looks with a few coats of white paint. It honestly looks as new as our recently purchased Ikea desk to the left of it. Yay paint!

You also may have noticed that we dealt with the semi-sheer panels on the two wardrobes we recently picked up. See, after we filled one with our giant Christmas tree bag and added a few bins up top…

… and used the other armoire to house eight variously sized bins (only two of which we’ve filled- so we still have a lot of available real estate)…

… we were left with colors coming through the fronts of the doors, which looked a bit chaotic and unbalanced thanks mostly to the big red tree bag on the right.

So we snagged two rolls of green and white wrapping paper from Target and cut them each down the middle of the roll to create four nearly perfectly sized panels of paper that we trimmed down a bit more and double-stick-taped to the inside of each door.

Presto, fun color and pattern that comes right through the semi-sheer door panes and adds some textured interest to the entire room. And the total project cost was just $6 (with some paper left over to wrap a few presents). Can’t beat that with a stick.

And you might notice the art hanging above the armoire (along with the large black and white framed print leaning above the table near the window). Well, the print near the window was one that we already had laying around – and it was as if it was meant for the basement (the black frame and moody art looks great with the black stripes in our rug). And the long framed piece above the armoire was actually a recent groomsman gift for John (it’s our last name spelled out in photographs of objects that resemble letters) and it also worked perfectly with the newly spruced basement color scheme.

But how did we hang the print above the armoire when our cinder block walls are so famously difficult to screw into (everything we’ve attempted to secure into the wall pulls out seconds later with a puff of dust)? Well, we grabbed some Command Picture Hanging Strips… and they did the trick! They’re super strong sticky strips that act sort of like extra-strength velcro to hold things in place.

You just remove the protective backing and stick one side to the back of the frame…

… and remove the other side’s protective backing and stick that side of the strip to the wall. Then you apply some decent pressure to the frame against the wall to get things to stick well for about a minute and then separate the pseudo-velcro strips so the pieces on the wall can “cure” for an hour or two without the weight of the frame pulling down on them. Then it’s time to reattach the velcro-ish pieces on the back of the frame to the two pieces that are then completely secure on the wall. Voila: your art is officially hung in a totally screw-free manner. It was so much less frustrating than fighting with our temperamental cinder block!

And because we visually revealed what we were using the bins in both armoires to store (some Halloween decor, an air mattress, some family quilts, etc) we might as well share what those two green bins under the table by the window are currently housing:

They’re storing all of our Christmas decor, which is super amazing since it used to be strewn about the house in various kitchen cabinets, bins under the bed, and boxes in my closet.

It’s so nice to have everything reunited in those cheerful oversized green bins. This stuff shouldn’t excite us that much but for some strange reason it just rocks our world.

So that’s where we are as of this week. Of course we’re still not finished (we have to add some privacy to those windows, create a screen to hide the ugly water heater and share our fun little storage project for the newly painted built-in cabinet) so stay tuned. And speaking of not being finished, do you guys have any projects that are half done? We’d love to know what you’ve started but have yet to finish. Because we of all people can totally relate to how that feels…

Psst- Want to look back on our big basement makeover from start to almost-finished? Here’s the first post, the second post, the third post, the forth post, and the fifth post. Ah memories.


  1. Emily says

    I absolutely love what you are doing with the basement! We need to do something with our “scary” basement, so maybe we will tackle that next year. I have been eyeing those armoires from Ikea ever since you first showed them to us. I was wondering if they could be painted? Well actually stained if that is possible? I would like to make it a storage unit in our dining room but the white will defintely not work. Thanks!

    • says

      Hey Emily,

      Good question! I actually don’t think those armoires can be sanded down to a wood tone (they’re made of that white particle board stuff so it’s not like it’s solid painted wood that you can strip). But the good news is that Ikea has tons of wood-toned armoires that are still quite a steal compared to the $1000 ones you see in most other places. Hope it helps!


  2. Carly Tanis says

    Hi John and Sherry! Everything looks GREAT! We aren’t ready to tackle our basement yet, but im filling up my inspiration binder with your pics :)

    I have a question about the adhesive you used. We have a woodburning stove that sits on a brick base attached to a brick wall behind it. Any suggestions on something similar that would work with floating shelves and resist heat? We dont have a mantle and I’m looking for a quick fix before the holidays. (our stockings need SOMEWHERE to hang!)

    Last question… any idea where the last name photograph came from? Its such a unique idea!


    • says

      Hey Carly,

      This isn’t an adhesive solution (since most of those aren’t heat resistant) but hardware stores sell these metal clips that go between bricks (recessed a bit into the grout if you will) and can hold an amazing amount of weight so hanging mirrors and heavy picture frames are a breeze. If you can’t find them in the hardware aisle just ask someone who works there if they have those metal clips that can be sandwiched between bricks (sort of pressed into the recessed grout area) to hold things up. Hope it helps!

      And as for where the art above the armoire came from, since it was a gift we’re actually not sure, but there are tons on online companies who look like they do something extremely similar (like this one for example: Happy hunting!


  3. travis says

    The basement is looking grand, guys!

    I have one project in particular that is half done that is just killing me! When we moved into our 1920’s home in June there was carpet on the first floor and boy did it stink! It was not that hit you in the face, horror story, pet fecies smell. It was kind of hidden, however the carpet was ugly and had stains and we wanted to see what the condition of the wood floors underneath were. The stank came up with the carpet! I finished this project by sanding down the beautiful wood floors, giving it a nice stain and finishing it off with three coats of poly.

    Unfortunately, however, there is a small room in the back of the house that we think the previous owners used as a smoke room. This room is an addition to the original house and is really intended to be a mud room. The carpet in this area was also nasty and really held onto that cigarette smoke smell. I joked with my wife that this year we were going to smoke our turkey by just leaving it in the smoke room overnight! So I removed the carpet, which was glued down to the pad. The bad didn’t move as it was glued down to the subfloor. By glued, I mean super glue. That thick pasty yellow stuff that never really dries, even after 20 or so years! It took me two hours two litteraly pull up a two foot by four foot swatch. I got so fed up with it that it’s still not done!

    I saw the new Dremmel Multi-Max tool that uses oscillating action. They have a demonstration on their website that specifically shows the removal of this type of carpet application, so I’m hoping that I get one for Christmas this year! Any other suggestions on how to remove this type of glued down carpet pad? I would greatly appreciate any hints!

    Thanks guys(sorry for the long story)!

    • says

      Hey Travis,

      Actually we’ve seen that Dremmel tool and it’s totally what we would recommend. Of course you could try manual things like metal scrapers and other products of that nature but since the glue is still so tacky and difficult it might actually be a short cut to go straight for the Dremmel instead of trying a bunch of other approaches that might backfire first. Hope it helps!


  4. Kathy says

    The basement is looking fantastic and some of the pieces have been such an inspiration to some spaces in my house!

    Speaking of half-finished projects…that describes our whole house! We’ve been doing a complete remodel for about 18 months now and at the moment we are left with an empty kitchen (think studs and cruddy drywall only) and an equally empty master bath. But the rest of the house is really progressing and we’re doing decorating here and there to make our kitchen-less house more comfortable in the mean time. :) Can’t wait to share some of the final product with you sometime early in 2010!

  5. Christin says

    Love, love, love what you’re doing! I especially love the paper you used and how you put it up in those Ikea closets. Really nice. I can’t get over how organized and out together your basement is! It’s nice to know there are other people out there in the world who love organizing stuff and having things put together as much as I do! :)

  6. Mandy says

    Awesome job, as usual! I really love the green and browns down there.

    Carly, if John and Sherry don’t know where the alphabet art came from you can check out my friend that does similar work and has an online shop:

    We have a monogram she gave us as a wedding gift, they are really fun! : )

  7. says

    i love following this renovation of your basement. i’m such a sucker for organization that i’m kind of drooling over it. and i love the ikea work desk area. definitely eying it for when we finally move and i get a craft area!

  8. Kim says

    My office is like this…. we painted and hung the shelves from ikea. the boxes (orange like your green) are put together but empty. and our stuff is sitting in the middle of the room just waiting for organization!!! ahhh!

    I LOVE YOUR basement, it is looking great!

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