Where to Start on that Impossible Space

side table

Back in 1995 I was the first of my friends to get married. And I had no idea what kind of gown, cake, flowers or anything that I wanted. I had never even cracked open a Brides magazine until I was engaged and had six months to plan a wedding. I remember wishing that I had allowed myself to dream a little and figure out what I did and didn’t like.

So when we lived in our rental house without knowing when we would ever buy our own home, I started a pinboard for my dream kitchen. Just in case, one day if we ever bought a house I’d be armed with photos of things I loved for a kitchen.

It felt self-indulgent and a little dumb. At the time we were over $100,000 in debt, with bad credit and I didn’t feel a lot of hope for ever buying an inexpensive house, much less having any say on what kind of kitchen I wanted.  In 20 years of marriage and 14 houses, I had never even picked my own counters before.


A few years later we ended up buying a house and at the last-minute we decided on a kitchen remodel that we’d do in phases and I had to make most of the decisions in about a two-week time frame. I had never designed a kitchen. But it was pure joy because I already did my research thanks to Pinterest.

Now I’m in planning/dreaming mode again.


Guess what? Our house has a big basement!

Our basement is the size of our family room, dining area and kitchen. A good chunk of it is set up for storage and we had to tear part of it out (ceiling/walls/flooring) when we bought the place to make some structural fixes–but we still have this potentially amazing space that technically, is the largest room in our house. Once we are ready to invest in it.

start somewherejune letters studio

Now that we have the main floor finished-ish and the upstairs bathroom done, we’ll be taking a break from actively making changes for a while, but that means it’s time to dream. I’ve found it’s better to make plans when we aren’t ready to make the changes, because I’m don’t limit myself with my dreams for a space–this is the fun part–time to make a Pinterest board!

Y’all, we have never taken on a project like this. We do not have the cash saved for this project and I don’t know where it will come from. I have no start date and no deadline. But I do know one thing–those things all hinder me from dreaming freely. So this moment–whether it be four months or four years is my chance to dream, scheme and plan! What fun!

Today I wanted to share some photos of our torn up basement. It’s rough, y’all…but I trust you.

The stairs to the basement are right behind the niche in our kitchen


See that first door on the right? Basement.








We think it used to be a garage possibly. And then years ago someone put paneling up and a drop ceiling and of course, florescent lights and a massive bar. Half of which we already tore out to put in some columns and access pluming and electricity for the kitchen remodel. The great thing is, it can be heated and cooled with our existing unit –it already has duct work and vents that can be opened or closed…we even tested it out the first year and it’s super warm down there when we open the vents for the furnace.


The ONE natural lighting source in the basement–a pair of old double doors that lead to this adorable-yet-falling-apart screened in porch (which today is a total mess because we use it for storage) but, y’all–that slate floor!!


Here’s the wonky little porch from the outside on the back of the house. It leads to our honky-tonk pool–so ideally, this could be a really great space–there’s even a paved little nook to the left where we could one day put an outdoor shower.


The first year we were here, before we were using the barn, I had the white sectional upstairs and we used the leather sofa in the basement and had a TV down there for an extra room for the boys to use with friends. Since then, we’ve moved the sofa upstairs, the basement had leak, and now it’s a depressing dumping ground.

But that’s okay.

This space has great potential, needs a lot of attention and a good plan. Tomorrow, I’ll share a few ideas I have for the room. (it’s now tomorrow–here are my ideas so far!)

Here’s the hope.

If you have a space that desperately needs attention, I hope you see the value in dreaming about it even if it’s not yet possible to make any changes. So many times I’ve waited until we had the money or time to change a space –and then realized I had no idea what I wanted. No more!

Start a pinboard for the space today and DREAM! It’s so fun, and now it the PERFECT time!

idhtbptbb nest files



  1. You have a walk out basement in the South!??!?! Unheard of. For sure a former garage. What fun possibilities!

    You could just build a slide from there down to the pool. :-)

  2. I am very excited about this! I, too, have a basement the entire size of our main floor–complete with paneling, drop ceiling and fluorescent lighting. We are currently in the process of knocking down walls and completely changing the location of our kitchen on the main floor. So, the basement is a project that is far, far away. Still, I can’t wait to see your ideas!

  3. Sooo much potential! … and that awesome screened in porch too! I know one day i’ll be looking at the cutest basement ever on your blog!


  4. Nester! What a great basement full of lovely limitations. We too have a basement that I just can’t seem to figure out in my mind, so I’ve been actively pinning. I can’t wait to see what you do with the space, or some of your ideas. PS. My daily routine when I get to work is to grab a cup of coffee and the first place I go is your blog for a little inspiration for the day (for almost 2 years now!) Keep doing what you are doing; you have such a calling! <3

    • thanks so much Erica! and yes, I cannot figure out this one in my mind either–it’s probably the most difficult space for me to envision finished!! one step at a time!

  5. Thank you for this encouragement- I’ve been feeling this way about our master bathroom- like I’m just stuck and hopeless about it because we can’t afford to really do anything to it right now. But I can dream and be ready for it when and if the time does come one day! And why can’t that be fun even if it isn’t a reality right now? Thanks for inspiring once again! Looking forward to seeing your dreams for this basement space!

  6. Oh, wow! What an amazingly fun opportunity you have to dream! Thank you for the permission to dream myself. I sometimes feel a little guilty about how much pinning I do for a home that doesn’t exist yet. I’ll now return to it with happy abandon. :-) It’s fun how much it’s actually helped me decide what decisions to make with the (FULL of limitations) rental space we currently occupy (and even more limited budget, LOL!).

  7. So fun! My husband and I are buying our first house (hopefully next week, as long as nothing unforeseen comes up) and our basement family room is much larger than the upstairs living room so I can’t wait to work on it! It probably won’t happen for months and the plan right now is just to put a TV and a couch down there, but it’s so fun to dream about what could be!

  8. How exciting to have all that space! I can’t wait to see what you decide.

  9. Love how you dare to dream! But love even more…how you always take the next step.

  10. May I ask where you got the kitchen ceiling light fixtures? (Pardon me if you’ve posted about them already.) I’m looking for something similar for my kitchen–something very simply and a little retro.

  11. Yep!

  12. One thing I noticed on your Pinterest kitchen board were the ranges in the pictures. Had you not had a vision for your kitchen, you might possibly have missed the whale-of-a-deal you go on YOUR range. Sometimes, it pays (or saves?) to dream bigger than you think you’ll be able to afford.

    • Yes, and you know, I almost didn’t get the one I have. i had already purchased a new (yet not special, but it was high end) range, and I was on the phone with my dad and told him about seeing my “dream range” on craigslist. and he was all–if it’s your dream range you need to get it! so I returned the one I had already purchased. Sometimes we need someone to give us permission to go to the trouble to go after our dream!!

  13. What a great space and so many possibilities! It can definitely be intimidating but I love a blank canvas. I’m sure you will make beautiful!

  14. This post is really encouraging! I can’t explain it but I have a lot of spaces in my house that are a mess but we don’t have the cash to deal with and yet the freedom to dream anyway–that’s empowering.

  15. Haha, what did we ever do before Pinterest!! Oh yeah, tore pages from magazines. :P This will be an awesome space considering it is a walkout!! Love the little porch and yes, that floor!! :) Have fun dreaming!!

  16. One thing I love about you is that you have the ability to encourage people right where they are. You know that is one thing they teach you in social work is to meet the people where they are. You’re my design social worker. I feel like my whole house is falling apart but now you have encouraged me to dream while I must wait. Pinterest allows me to take the limits off God!

  17. so. much. potential. I know you will make it amazing. I wish I had a truck load of money to send your way so that I could watch it all go down from here! Happy Dreaming!

  18. Thank you for this encouragement! We bought a house last December and have been working on projects ever since. One of our last projects is the garage conversion, which is now our play room/guest room/storage room. It’s got a great vaulted ceiling with a beautiful ridge beam, big windows, lots of (outdated) storage cabinets, and orange saltillo tile (so not my taste). Even though I’m an architect, it can still be hard to make choices for my own home. I don’t do Pinterest, but I’m going to start looking through magazines for inspiration for my room. Thanks!

  19. Oh, dang! If we were neighbors we’d be having one heck of a repurpose renovation party! What awesome potential you have in that basement. I can’t wait to see what you do with it. This weekend I will be moving into my renovated 4,000 plus sq. foot home without a kitchen. {I hear they are overrated} Cabinets are being made. :/ I’ll be sharing on my blog this weekend!

  20. This is exciting!

  21. Angela Arnold says

    A basement! I.Can’t.Even. Your house truly is a gem.

  22. oh my goodness! What a ton of potential! And I know you’ll do all the things that will make it perfect for you!

  23. Nester, please fix up that awesome screened in porch before you do anything else! Put the things you are storing there in the basement and do a temporary restoration with what you already have and enjoy it for fall. THAT FLOOR IS KILLER! I know you could have the most charming porch ever!

  24. Jennifer Thornton says

    Where is that super cute black rug from – under your leather sectional? Looks fantastic in your space!?

    Can’t wait to see what you do in this space.
    such talent :)

  25. I like your sofa, the style and color is so pretty. We have been looking at sofas but I have not been pleased with anything at the furniture stores or even online. Great work you have done!

  26. Ah, those doors, the slate, the little porch.

    This is gonna be GOOD!


  27. I love that we can all go on the journey with you as you do your basement! So fun! Your website is such an inspiration to me. I’ve learned SO much that is helping me make our house a home! Thank you!!

  28. Ooo! Hard for me to tell from here, but can you do and 8′ high set of doors, instead of the standard 6′ 8″? Would make SUCH a difference & let in more light :) Exciting space, exciting plans!

  29. Can’t wait to see how it turns out! Basements always seem to turn into one of the most fun rooms in a house.

  30. If you do just one thing, save that paneling and bring back the 80s… NOT! But I can’t wait to see how you make this area beautiful once you get started!

  31. Thank you for this! I found it very encouraging. Living in a house that has what feels like a never ending to do list can be very discouraging. I keep telling myself, buying an old fixer upper house gives us the chance to make it our own…although it may take us our whole lives to make it that way. Haha!

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