Lake House Basement Project – Update Twelve

The weekend of March 20-22 was our twelfth weekend of 2020 working on our lake house basement project.

It was another weekend filled with work and also pleasant hikes at Smith Mountain Lake State Park.

Below you can see a favorite spot in the park, Turtle Island. Crossing the bridge takes you to the island where there’s a path along the island’s circumference.

Turtle Island at Smith Mountain Lake State Park in Virginia

This is a catch-up post as I have faithfully written each week about what we accomplished the previous weekend but got behind in my writing. I am in the process of writing a post sharing what we did March 27-29.

If you are new here, we are transforming our basement into a family room, bathroom, and bedroom. These posts chronicle the work that we’ve accomplished so far:

What We Accomplished March 20-22

Mr. SP has been working from home for a few weeks now, so as soon as he was finished with work on Friday, we headed to the lake for another round of work on our basement project. We didn’t arrive at the lake until dinner time, and both of us didn’t feel like working after we ate, so our work began on Saturday after walking Sherman.

Working on the Doors

The doors were stained a previous weekend and I worked on adding three coats of General Finishes Topcoat to each side of the three doors.

This is a slow process as it supposed to take 12-18 hours for one coat to dry but I have found that two days is what each coat needs. The longer drying time could be because of humidity in our basement or the cool temperature that we keep it.

Finishing wood doors by staining and using steel wool between coats of topcoat.

My process is to rub the doors down with very fine steel wool, vacuum, rub the doors with a tack cloth, then apply a coat of topcoat.

I also did the same process on the newel post and banister.

Framing Windows and Adding Trim

While I worked on the doors, Mr. SP finished framing and adding trim to the windows that he didn’t finish the previous weekend.

Adding trim to a window

He marked this one with my website before he framed it.

Labeling raw wood on window with virginiasweetpea.com before framing it.

For some reason, I didn’t take many pictures the weekend of March 20-22 but he did indeed finish the trim on this window.

Adding trim to a window

After my door work was complete, I painted windows in the family room.

Bathroom Work

After the windows were framed and trimmed, Mr. SP moved on to the bathroom. He started his work by installing shower fixtures.

Installing fixtures in a shower

After the shower fixtures were installed, he installed the shower curtain bar and also towel racks and a toilet paper holder.

Installing fixtures in a shower

A laser level is a new tool in our growing arsenal and it came in handy for installing the mirror as well as the towel bars.

Using a laser level to help install a mirror in a bathroom.

To figure out the screw placement in the wall for hanging the mirror, he placed the laser level on a roll of underlayment.

Using a laser level to help install a mirror in a bathroom.

The mirror is heavy, so we decided to glue a wood stud behind the wall so that we could screw into it to hang the mirror, rather than utilize drywall anchors alone to hang the mirror.

The glue had to dry, so the mirror got hung the following weekend.

Weekend Fun with Sherman

Sherman supervised our work and guarded his dock and shoreline against pesky geese.

Sherman Skulina at Smith Mountain Lake

We had two very nice hikes at Smith Mountain Lake State Park. We are very grateful that the park is still open during this scary time. It’s a great place to get some exercise without the worry of encountering many people.

Hiking at Smith Mountain Lake State Park in Virginia.

We are now under a shelter in place order but the weekend of March 20-22 we were not. We needed a few supplies at Moneta Farm Store, so of course Sherman came with us. I sat in the car with Sherman so that only one of us would be in contact with possible store germs and people germs. Someone had a baby goat on the back of their truck and it kept baaing. Sherman was very intrigued!

Sherman Skulina on his dog bed in the car.

What’s Next?

The weekend of March 27-29, Mr. SP installed the banisters on the stairs and I continued to work on the doors and window painting. I’ll share that update with you very soon!

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I would love for you to pin this post on Pinterest for others to discover!

Lake House Basement Project Update Twelve


  1. Observations from the peanut gallery: that mask is a rare commodity, and I’m VERY glad you have one! Mr. SP scares me, seeing him standing on the bathtub edges in his socks! Seeing you on your knees by the banister makes my knees hurt. Another 10 yrs and you might be wearing kneed pads like I have to, just to even clean! Lastly, glad Sherman keeps the geese away. They were my nemesis at our former home and I did the same as he does, protecting my turf.

    This space really looks so good, Paula. Now that you’ve got stay at home orders, are you guys leaving the lakehouse on hold, or can you go there? I see that your governor has signed his order to be in place until June! I have family in RIchmond. This is all so surreal. I’m so glad you’re well. Take care to stay safe.

    1. Thank goodness the standing on the bathtub in socks didn’t result in an injury. I’m glad that I didn’t notice that he was doing that as he was doing the work. I’m very glad to have my mask! I have some knee pads and thought about using them but didn’t. They definitely help!

      We are more socially isolated when we go to the lake, so for now we’ll travel back and forth between the two houses so that we can maintain them both.

      Thanks so much for your visit!!


  2. I love the color of the doors! I know it is a ton of work but you def made the right color and texture choice! Good work Mr. SP! Love the messages on the unpainted trim! Y’all are the best!

    1. Thank you, Leecy! We both look forward to your family visiting with us at the lake this summer.


  3. Wow your basement is really taking shape Paula. I’m really impressed with those beautiful doors and the stair railings. So cute to put your web site address on the window. Maybe some future generations will discover it.

    1. The basement is coming along, Michelle! When the house was built, the guys wrote our name on one of the beams upstairs. That was a fun discovery for us to see as we made a weekly trip to the house site to see what happened during that week. I should have done some sort of time capsule to put into one of the walls downstairs.


  4. Wow! Your basement is coming together beautifully! I love following along and seeing your progress! I hope you are staying safe and healthy!

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