So, we installed this amazing bamboo focal wall in the basement family room and then hid it from you for months. Sorry.
This project might go down in history as the longest tease. The bamboo wall appeared as a backdrop in the Why I Mood Board video and then more recently as a photo backdrop for my basement pillows. It has been in the reflection of my studio mirror for months, and we used the leftover bamboo to make the counter in the studio.
So why the tease? Well, I blame Mother Nature. It snowed on and off until the end of April, which is unseasonable even for Minnesota. Then, May has been nothing but rain. The weather delays have prevented us from moving the furniture stored in our garage into the basement. We have a large sectional that has camped in the garage for the last year. It is easiest to bring it in through the exterior basement door, but only when the hill on the side of the house is not a ski slope or rain-laden slip ‘n slide. I did not want to show you the bamboo wall and then make you wait for months to see the completed space.
This past weekend (hooray for a 3-day weekend!) we finally moved the furniture. It was rainy and overcast, so we just moved more quickly. Now that the furniture is in I feel more confident that I will be able to pull this space together in the next few weeks. Finally, I am ready to share with you the bamboo feature wall…the start of our new family room!
Before moving furniture into our new basement family room, we wanted to tackle one big project. The far wall in the room spans 17 feet and is not interrupted by any windows or doors. It’s the perfect spot for a big feature wall.
The hubby and I have long-loved carbonized bamboo. It is the slightly darker shade of the popular flooring option. We would have loved bamboo flooring throughout the basement, but it is not recommended for below grade installation. So…on the wall it goes!
You’ll recall bamboo was in the plans since the beginning. I included a sample in our basement finishes roundup. It also made its way onto the family room mood board. This is the first of three homes we’ve owned that hasn’t had any DIY bamboo action yet. In our first home, we replaced carpet in the entry for the more traffic friendly bamboo. In our last home, we installed bamboo flooring in our master bedroom. It was only a matter of time before we gave this house some bamboo love.
Now, when we walk down into the basement we are greeted with this:
We planked our family room feature wall in bamboo tongue and groove flooring! At only $1.99 a sq ft it was an affordable option with big impact. The bamboo really warms up the space, which was part of the plan from the beginning. The white walls and blue carpet are cool, but I knew I would warm the space up with the bamboo wall.
The installation was really easy. We started by finding all the studs on the wall and marking their centers with a pencil line down the wall. The lines served as a guide for where to nail the planks.
We started at the top of the wall to make sure we would have full width pieces up there. We wanted any cut pieces to be hidden under the baseboard at the bottom of the wall. We opted to face nail the flooring with an electric nail gun. It was the easiest and quickest way to get the wall up. There is a lot of color variation in the bamboo, so I knew a little wood filler over the nail holes wouldn’t be noticeable when it was finished.
To keep the bamboo from looking like flooring, we used a different approach for staggering our seams. On a floor installation you typically stagger the seams randomly. We wanted a more intentional design for the feature wall. I fell in love with the zipper technique John and Sherry used on their deck. We staggered our seams the width of one board to create the same type of zipper effect. It is a really cool extra detail on the wall.
The bamboo planks varied widely in color. We made sure to mix up light and dark boards as we went along. Having debated wild choices like tiger stripe bamboo before settling on simple carbonized bamboo, we are pretty happy with the end result. We still got a lot of interesting color variation, without a wild pattern we might tire of quickly.
Once we neared the bottom of the wall, we were running low on planks and I wanted to save the last carton for the bamboo counter in my studio. I realized the last row would be completely hidden behind our chunky white baseboards. Instead of using full planks, I nailed a small piece from the scrap pile to each stud. These pieces served as spacers to nail the baseboard to. In the photo below, you can see the bamboo spacers nailed to the stud on the left side and a piece of baseboard on the right side, showing how the baseboard will cover the spacers.
To finish off the wall, we added the chunky white baseboard at the bottom. The cuts on each side of the wall weren’t all perfectly even and there were a few gaps at the ceiling, so we used 1″ cove molding to frame the wall on the sides and at the ceiling.
Now we need to start saving our pennies for that awesome fireplace we want in front of the feature wall. The fireplace and a family picture will be the only things going on this wall, so we can keep plenty of exposed bamboo and zipper seams to marvel at.
Let me leave you with one more shot showing the new focal wall in relationship to the game area.
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Hi, I'm Jackie
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