Thursday, September 2, 2010


The Mission:   Finish the Yankee & Peach basement before Evie's Dadda gets home from his trip.  This means a whole lotta work was to be done in 7 days, 17 hours, and 45 minutes, give or take time for a layover in Amsterdam, the wait at the ATL baggage claim, US customs delays, and Dadda's drive home from the airport.

The History: In September 2009, the city of Atlanta (actually the entire state of Georgia) experienced incredibly heavy rains. So much rain that portions of ALL the major highways were closed around Atlanta at one time or another. Homes were ruined, business were closed, roads were flooded - even the Ego waffle maker facility was shut down! Catastrophe!

The Yankee & Peach household, although located on top of a decent sized hill, experienced basement flooding due to the unbelievable ground swell of rainwater. Momma Peach was actually squeegeeing, pumping, and bailing out water in the basement on the day she was originally slated to give birth to Evie. (Luckily, the little Peach decided to wait another THREE weeks to make her appearance.)  

We demolished everything in the basement.  We pulled up all the old wet carpet, the linoleum (well, it actually floated away with the rain water...), the baseboards, and ripped out the insulation, the wet drywall... everything. The flooding was actually a good thing because we had been wanting to renovate for a while, but we didn't want to spend the money on something that was "fine and usable," however hideous to look at. (The original carpet was what we called "Bad Vegas airport style."  Momma Peach almost had a seizure every time she stared at the hot pink, green, and teal lightning bolt print on the floor for too long.)

There was no ceiling in the smaller room, and in the bigger room the ceiling was suspended tile that tried to guillotine anyone over six feet tall who walked into it.  It truly was a Man Cave, since you felt like you really were in a cave. It was 'usable' space, but not really functional or inviting.

Fast forward to approximately a year later. After the flood, Evie's Dadda stripped the entire area down to the cinder blocks in order for us to waterproof it and start all over with the finishing process.  Once the waterproofing was done, Evie's Dadda started the painfully slow process of re-framing the whole area himself.  Momma Peach helped where she could, but with a new baby, it wasn't a priority anymore. 

So... how did Project Mayhem come about? Well, Dadda mentioned to Momma Peach that he was going to embark on a world-wind trip for his job that would have him absent for much of the month of August. In less than three weeks, he went to Philadelphia, Argentina, Australia, China, Thailand, and India. 

So, never one to sit and twiddle her thumbs, Momma Peach strategically planned for contractors to come give her estimates on the basement project on days that she knew Dadda wouldn't be around prior to these trips. Dadda almost blew the surprise twice by coming home early from work on a few days... although it would have made for a classic story had he actually caught Momma Peach, since it would have been incredibly awkward for her to explain what two strange guys were doing roaming around the house with her without his knowledge. 

Well, awkwardness and neighborhood gossip aside, Momma Peach scheduled for many strange men to come help her in this project.  After just a few days, the strange men were strangers no more:

Meet Vyk. (Actually Vykintas Genys.)
Although this picture makes it look like he should be a Russian mobster holding an AK-47 and smoking a cigarette (ha!), he's actually a very nice man who truly cares about his work and his clients. Vyk worked very hard to stay within Momma Peach's budget and to make sure everything was completed to her specifications.
Vyk was basically Momma Peach's Ty Pennington for the week -- well, if Ty Pennington was a little less hyper, quieter and also happened to be Lithuanian.  Although basketball is the king of sports in Lithuania, Vyk is a rebel by declaring himself a huge soccer fan instead. He has two young sons - one of whom would LOVE to have a baby sister. Vyk has no plans for a little sister, but we may let him borrow Evie on occasion for his sons to play with. 

Meet Justin. He's not actually named "Justin."
His real name is about 12 syllables long and starts with an "A." Momma Peach can't pronounce it, so he quickly told her to call him Justin, since everyone else does. Justin has the uncanny ability to nap with techno music at full blast from his car speakers, while waiting on the drywall team to finish their work.

Meet Fernando. (And check out how high the ceiling is now!)
Fernando is the King of Drywall.

Fernando has six kids, ranging in ages from 11 to 19. That's a busy household. Momma Peach and Evie got to meet and feed two of his kids some chocolate chip cookies and talk about their summer reading lists while they waited for their Dad to finish skimming/mudding the drywall.

There are basically three "rooms" in the basement:  a smaller square room you first walk down the stairs into, a larger rectangular room off to the side, and a L-shaped room that houses the furnace, water heater, and shop area behind the staircase. We wanted to finish two of the three rooms, and leave the shop and furnace area alone. Hopefully, you can follow the progression of the pictures below.
This is Uncle Battle and Dadda in the
bigger room about a year ago,
when we first started ripping everything out after the flooding. Battle is 6'3'' tall and he had about 1" of clearance with the old ceiling.  Dadda has no shoes on in this picture, but his hair could usually brush the ceiling on days when he mohawked his hair. (or forgot to apply product after his shower)

Momma Peach was enormously pregnant with Evie at this time.

About 4 months ago.
Down to the bare bones, ready to start the waterproofing. 

Another shot of the bigger room, pre-waterproofing.

And then Momma Peach went crazy and hired contractors. She had her co-conspirator and partner in crime, Uncle Battle, come help clear out the basement the minute she heard Dadda's car crank up to leave for the airport....

We had to reroute a TON of ductwork and electrical.
Quite a few interesting electrical debacles were found.
How our house hadn't burn down was a mystery to me.
The frame is up and the insulation added!
Please notice the ductwork - it's routed around the edges of the room and not hanging inches above your head anymore!

This was about the time Momma Peach got giddy with excitement. The drywall is up - there is some semblance of a real room!
We also decided to add a closet for extra storage space to the back of the room.

95% DONE!

Here's a few shots of the smaller entrance room:

Bare walls, pre-waterproofing.

Water proofing done and frame added.

Drywall is up!  Almost done!
Look, Momma! I painted a picture for the basement.
It's like a bunch of blocks - my favorite!!
Um, Momma...
you said that Dadda was coming home today,
but who is this bearded guy hugging me?

So, Momma Peach considers Project Mayhem a success. Although the walls weren't primed before Dadda got home (we just did that last night) and they don't have their final coat of paint, the floor has not been finished, and the furniture has not been moved back in - nevertheless, the construction job is done. The pipes/ducts/electrical that needed rerouting has been done. The insulation is added and the dry wall is up, mudded, and dried. We have a ceiling (holy moly, a real ceiling?!) and the electricity is in all the right places, panels have been added for access to the areas we need access to, and everything works so far. Hallelujah!

And before you think Momma Peach has completely taken over the "Man Cave" project -- she kept Chris in mind for (almost) every decision she made in the process.  Ultimately, the only thing that Momma Peach is adamant about is that this space has transformed into something entirely too nice to be referred to as a Man Cave. Since Momma Peach added a wine closet (a suggestion of Dadda's!), maybe we can call it the "cellar" now? Or recreation room? It's no longer the "cave!"  Doesn't  "Man Cave" sounds like a term someone would come up with if they have a problem sharing a space with a woman and/or couldn't cope with a mixed environment? Turns out men and women like each other and can share space. Who'dathunk it?

We'll post more pictures as the painting progresses -- but in the meantime, this is a HUGE step in the right direction!


  1. Love it! Can't wait to see it in person! What color will you paint the walls?

  2. This is awesome! I'm sure he was thrilled. I don't know if I'd have ever managed to keep such a huge surprise under wraps. I'm impressed.

    I completely understand your excitement. I remember how thrilled I was when we started finishing our completely unfinished basement. Each project was exciting because we were that much closer to a real space (though the dog missed his play space).

  3. The best part of the whole project was that I learned how to cook a LOT of Lithuanian recipes.
    Every night after Evie went to bed, I looked up Lithuanian food recipes online and made them treats for the next day. Those guys worked their butts off for me!! And, btw, Lithuanian food really sucks… or maybe I just suck at cooking it. =o)