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Playroom: From 1970's Paneling Prison to a Functional Space

Updated on February 3, 2017
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Heather is a stay-at-home mom, enjoys camping with family and tackling DIY projects with her husband, and watching her kids' soccer games.

Beginning Another Project

As one project ends, another begins...or so it seems. After finishing an upgrade from worn-out carpet to painted stairs on the staircase that leads from our main living area down to the playroom area and front door, it drifted into a room redo. In the spirit of frugality, we decided to paint our outdated paneling instead of replacing with drywall. There were some bumps along the way that added some extra steps and costs but with some team work, shopping around and elbow grease we ended up with a room that our children are now requesting we call a 'gameroom' instead of a 'playroom'. *insert parental eyeroll here* As this project did not go smoothly with the bumps, nothing was a clearly defined step-by-step process, so instead of chronologically detailing the project, I'm going to write about each upgraded part of the room.

TV stand, during the refinishing process.
TV stand, during the refinishing process.

Cleanout Begins

This project started with a purge. We cleared out and donated any outgrown or unused toys and decided we needed a much more stream lined look. Until now, we have had random, mismatched bookshelves holding toys and board games. An old dresser, with a broken drawer, served as a TV stand and the broken drawer housed a DVD player and an video game console. We were not using this space as much as we would like because it wasn't a comfortable, functional space. After the purge, we went thrift store furniture shopping and ended up with a TV stand, that neatly houses video games, console, dvds, controllers and all the gadgets that go with it. We also purchased an old sturdy armoire to be used as enclosed board game and toy storage. I did some refinishing and painting which resulted in some lovely pieces. We purchased a cover for our old sofa in the spirit of 'cheapness' and some bean bag chairs for extra seating.

Room during the purge process, before paint.
Room during the purge process, before paint.
Opposite wall, before paint
Opposite wall, before paint
Our 11 year old beginning first coat of paint.
Our 11 year old beginning first coat of paint.

The Walls

I wasn't sure if painting the paneling would end up looking cheap or if it would indeed improve the appearance of the room, but we decided to take the risk. Before painting, the paneling was washed down with a TSP alternative to remove dirt and oils from the wood. We painted the paneling a light gray and quickly realized several coats were needed as the paneling absorbed the paint quite rapidly. The kids were eager to help and did a large portion of the rolling while my husband and I focused on the edging and trim work. The walls ended up needing 3 coats of paint and looked so much better than before. Around doors and windows, a darker gray was used to cover the trim. While painting the trim, we realized the look o fwhere the floor and wall meet was not uniform. Since this is essentially a covered, concrete floor that was poured at a slight slope to a floor drain in the attached laundry room, as many basement floors are, we made a trip to Lowes to find a way to give the walls a finished look at the floor.

Wall Base.

To cover up the uniformity issue of the floor, we were at Lowe's discussing how we could frugally and aesthetically fix this issue while keeping in mind the function of the room. We decided to use Flexco 4in rubber wall base, that attaches with adhesive and quickly and easily covers any blemishes to the area. I think it actually tied the room together nicely and even though it wasn't a planned part of the project, I'm glad we ended up with the addition.

Ceiling tiles after in installation.
Ceiling tiles after in installation.

The Ceiling

While replacing the drop ceiling was not in the original project plans, it was a necessary add, as we found disinegrating tiles as we were painting the wall. Not knowing the exact age of the ceiling, we wanted to dispose of the tiles and start with something fresh, in a safety mindset. So off to Lowes we went, chose an Armstrong tile that was on clearance due to discontinuation and got a great deal on some damaged cases. We were going to have to cut some tiles down, so it didn't matter to us if a side was damaged. Again, although not planned, this addition to the project made the room look better and after the fact, I'm glad it popped up.

Carpet install.
Carpet install.
Cutting padding edge to install.
Cutting padding edge to install.
Installed carpet.
Installed carpet.

The Carpet

After the walls were painted, the ceiling replaced, the wall base put in place, and the furniture both new-to-us and old was put back in place, the original linoleum just was not making the space feel functional. So we decided adding a carpet remnant would be the best answer and we found a huge, edges bound carpet at a local Ollie's Bargain Mart. We purchased some padding and it looked wonderful. The room feels warmer and doesn't echo when the kids are loud.

View of finished room.
View of finished room.
Opposite wall view of finished room.
Opposite wall view of finished room.

Finished Project

As happy as I am with the results, I am happier that this project is over. From the room being in chaos, to the constant paint smell, to the bumps in the road, and what seemed like endless trips to Lowes, this project was a bit head-spinning. I hope the kids continue to enjoy the room, whether it's a playroom or game room, and that our future projects get easier as we become DIY professionals. Taking a break, as we discuss which project is next, carpet to laminate in the living room or painting kids' bedrooms.

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