My family and I moved into our house about 5 years ago and finally decided it was time to finish our ‘unfinished’ basement.  We have wood paneling that we were almost done painting (OMG it took forever), but decided if we ordered the floors we wanted, that would give us the motivation to finish painting.  

Before- It’s SO DARK

Which we did, but then decided to take on another project!!!

One afternoon I went down to the basement and decided we couldn’t have this beautiful new space with a terrible, old drop ceiling! It was just horrible!  They were super low and made it so dark and cave like.

So I decided, maybe we should just see what the ceiling looked like if we took off a few of the drop ceiling tiles…  And it looked AWESOME!!!  There were a few wires underneath going to the equally horrible fluorescent lights, but other than they the beams and floor joists were perfect! I also thought the ducts and pipes that were running through helped it look a little industrial which looked great with the more rustic elements.   And the ceiling would be even better with what I had planned for it!

The process begins

I had already done a little research about what to do in place of a drop ceiling on my favorite place, Pinterest!  One idea that really stood out, was simply removing the drop ceiling, and painting the beams white. We were planning on going with a more rustic feel, with light gray walls, light brown weathered looking laminate, and eventually getting a bar made out of old barnwood.

An Open Ceiling with White Beams and Exposed Duct Work Would Fit Perfectly!

This idea was also totally perfect because it would give us a couple of extra inches once the drop ceiling was gone, plus it seemed even higher because of the space between the beams up to the floor joists!

I thought it was going to be much harder to convince my husband, but once I showed him some pics of my inspiration from Pinterest,  got a couple of tiles down, and started painting it white he was convinced.

Getting Rid of the Drop Ceiling

Now onto the more labor intensive parts of getting the old drop ceiling ripped out and the even harder part of painting all those beams and floor joists.

So ripping out the drop ceiling wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.  All the tiles came out pretty easily and the tracking for the tiles was just wired to the beams so it took a few hours (plus some time to bag it all up and get it out of the basement).

Then Onto the Most Difficult Part of All, Painting the Beams.

I originally thought that we would buy a paint sprayer, but after doing some research, we decided to do it the old fashioned way, with a paint brush.  I tried using a small roller but found I had to go back to smooth out the paint, so it was just easier to use the brush. I was only able to paint the ceiling for small periods of time (after my kids went to sleep, an hour or two on the weekends during nap time) so it seemed like with all the time to set up sprayer, then clean it after it would waste a lot of time.

I also needed to paint the gap on the walls where the drop ceiling had ended to where the beams were. Luckily we had enough wall paint left, and it was only a few inches, so it didn’t take much time at all.

To Whitewash or Not to Whitewash, this is the question

We knew we wanted it white, but we were okay if some wood grain was showing through.  As I said we were going for a more rustic look, and like the look of whitewash (plus I didn’t want to spend extra time doing several coats so this seemed like a win-win)  

When I first starting painting, I followed directions for whitewashing, using a paint to water ratio of about 1-to-1.  I then realized that this was super light and had to give it a second coat to give it the deeper whitewash look that I wanted.  So what I wanted was thicker than just a whitewash, but not quite complete coverage. I ended up doing 1 coat of flat white for almost everything (plus a few touch-ups) and I think it came out perfect!

The end product! Exactly how I pictured it! (Yes I layed down on the floor to take this pic 🙂
Tons of Time But So Worth It

It took many, many hours, but I feel like it was totally worth it!  When we first decided to do it, I thought ‘oh, we’re just painting the ceiling it shouldn’t take that long’, but then you realize you have to paint both sides of the beams, plus the floor joists, so it really is a lot of work (but again totally worth it!)

The room now looks so much bigger, and it lightened it up a ton.  We even feel like it looks like we designed the room around this ceiling focal point.  Everytime someone new goes down to the basement, they comment on how much they love the ceiling.  

Plus as an added bonus it wasn’t too expensive.  The only cost was the paint and supplies.

The Finished Product!!!
Lighting Options

As you can see from the pics we also decided to take out the old fluorescent lights.  We went back and forth for a while deciding what to use, and eventually had it narrowed down to can lights (that are usually used for recessed lights) or strung bulbs.  We decided to go with the exposed can lights, because we wanted something that was recessed in the beams (because the ceiling was still on the lower side). Plus they looked great because they gave the ceiling a little more of the industrial feel we were going for.

All in all though it took a lot of time, I feel this project was totally worth it.  It totally transformed the space and I definitely recommend giving it a try!

Before & After