Sharing our short term rental basement suite renovation before and after! We transformed this dated basement suite on a super tight budget and timeline using second hand finds and so much DIY.
Earlier this year we bought a 1940’s home in Calgary, Alberta to renovate into a charming AirBnB. We were looking for something with a basement suite to rent out long term but once we got started working on the vacation rental upstairs, we were hooked and decided to make the basement suite into one as well.
While the suite was fine for a long term rental, it needed some updates to make it beautiful and functional for a short term rental. Today I’m excited to share the basement suite renovation before and after with you all! If you would like more details on this home, you can see our full before tour with our plans right here.
Our goal with this basement suite renovation was to make it functional and welcoming, with all the needed amenities for short term travel on a budget and in a hurry. We live 8 hours from this property and were doing the work ourselves. So we tried to be very planned and order everything ahead of time. We furnished it with mostly Facebook Marketplace and worked with a lot of the existing features to save on budget. While the upstairs unit we focused on making beautiful and spent more time and money doing that… down here, we wanted function above all.
This is a legal suite, so it had a separate entrance already with a covered door along the side of the house. We just cleaned this up and added a smart lock to allow for temporary codes. The kids picked out this fun mat and we were done here. In the future we’d love to update the light and maybe paint the door (and the whole house, really) but for now, this is functional and ready to go. Inside? Well, that was much more work!
The suite and main floor had shared laundry prior to our remodel. This just didn’t make sense for private suite rentals so we closed off the stairs to the upstairs and kept the basement laundry for… the basement!
Before the remodel, the bathroom had been closed off to the stairs for privacy with the shared laundry right outside the door. This meant that the only access to the bathroom was through one of the bedrooms. Not ideal for the other bedroom in the rental!
Now that we closed off access to the upstairs, we opened back up the doorway into the bathroom to make it a jack and jill style bathroom. I honestly didn’t even take a before photo of this hallway because it was so useless… but now that we’re done with it, I wish I had a side by side of the before/after! The best I have is this still from a video tour I shared on IG before the basement suite renovation… which shows the minty green of the back bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen and living room perfectly… there was SO MUCH MINT:
Since we didn’t know *exactly* where that door was framed in beneath the drywall it was a bit messy removing things to get the door back. We damaged a bit of the drywall in the hallway trying to find the door. We did also have to remove some tile and cut it down to size, then re-tile (and edge). This turned out better than expected, tile is so forgiving.
Instead of spending time (the thing we had the least of!) patching the drywall in the hallway and waiting for it to dry and sanding and patching and… well, you know… we decided to purchase bead board and create half height bead board wall in the entry hallway to hide the drywall damage. This turned it into a total feature and it’s so cute but also functional with all the hooks right when you come in the door and down the stairs.
We painted everything a bright greyish white and re-floored the linoleum stairs and kitchen with a glue down wood plank. We painted all the bead board a beautiful green that kind of reads modern farmhouse. Mostly, I wanted to find a paint colour that was cozy and welcoming that was still a bit modern and worked with all the tan flooring that was in the living room and bedrooms and bathroom and also worked with the wood trim and doors.
We painted the bathroom that same green and updated the vanity area to modernize it a bit. After our home flood and realizing those shell sinks don’t have an overflow (see our bathroom/before and after here)… I’m eager to get rid of them in literally every home I touch.
We kept the same vanity for now and just updated the countertop with an IKEA laminate. The light is actually off centre to the sink which bugs me to no end, I tried to work with it instead of opening up the wall and having drywall to patch by using a vessel sink.
The biggest change happened in the kitchen. The kitchen that was there when we purchased the house was dated of course but also not functional. The stove exhaust didn’t work, the sink drain didn’t work and the stove couldn’t open more than a crack because of the fridge location. We tore it out and put in a straight forward IKEA kitchen layout.
This turned out to be a bit more of an undertaking than we’d hoped for- there wasn’t drywall on these walls! It was all a kind of shiny hardboard for backsplash and the cabinets were built right on top of… well, it was a mess. We chose to finish the exposed space with beadboard to tie in with what we did in the hallway but again to cut down on all that work and time mudding and taping. I really love how much character this added to the kitchen which was feeling pretty… cold and boring.
The kitchen is one of IKEA’s newer lines, ENKÖPING which also happens to be one of their most affordable lines. I’m so happy with this, honestly it looks much nicer than a lot of the other IKEA white cabinets… and for a total deal! We paired this with the same black IKEA countertop (SALJAN) as the bathroom. We reused the appliances from the upstairs unit down here, just purchasing a new microhood.
I really like the black hardware on here as well, we used some of the older pulls I’d ordered for my kitchen originally (I totally ordered a smaller size so couldn’t use them so they’ve sat waiting for this moment for 3 years!). We did sacrifice some cupboard space for the dishwasher but we thought that was so much more useful for a short term rental than storage. If we do turn this back to a long term rental, they could always add a standing cupboard along the kitchen/living wall for pantry storage.
The kitchen living space is open concept and doesn’t allow for a separate dining space. We made the eat in kitchen work with a chandelier to differentiate the spaces and a smaller table and chairs set to seat guests without taking up living room or too much kitchen space. Because these (and pretty much everything else in here) are second hand, I don’t have links for you.
Into the living room, we were using what we had to stay on budget here. All in all, I think it turned out great! The couches are my dad’s old set that we used while our kids were young (see them in our place here) and then my sister took over for a while. They’re still in great shape so we pulled them in down here. We tied in the green from the kitchen with the canvas prints in the living room. These are all my dad’s amazing photography- I feel like they really bring a cozy touch to the space.
The floating TV shelf was left behind in this room up high on one of the walls. Mounting it here allows for a piece of furniture feel without taking up the space of furniture. The carpet was quite stained (turns out we’re not amazing at installing glue down flooring without getting glue on the carpet lol) so we used a rug to hide that and cozy up the space. This is the rug we’d used in our guest bedroom in the past and in our last house rec room.
This is technically a 2+ bedroom suite. There is one queen bedroom at the bottom of the stairs and then a second bedroom through the living room which is actually 2 bedrooms but with no door between them (and only one closet). Here’s the queen bedroom. We tied the green in with the curtains and again used some of my dad’s photography to decorate.
I feel like I need to point out that these before photos are from the listing and very washed out… the walls were a mint green. It was… a lot of mint.
The king bedroom is through the living room and this bed is so dang comfy. I really love the mossy coloured curtains in here and how they play with the original wood doors. Other than furnish and decorate, all we did in the bedrooms really was to paint and swap lights and door knobs.
The bonus bedroom back here we made into a bunk room. I wish I got a better photo of this, it was getting so dark outside but I had to make the 8 hour drive back home once we finished this basement suite renovation and furnishing and it would be rented before my return (honestly, such a tight timeline!).
This bunk room makes it the perfect suite for us to rent when we come to town, it’s hard to find this many beds! This suite comfortably sleeps 7 with the single over queen bunk back here. We added a dresser for storage since this bedroom is larger and missing a closet and a little table for kiddos to use for art. Our kids made all the art in this bedroom (and the mountain goat in the bathroom). They love that they got to contribute.
Phew! That’s a big tour! I hope you enjoyed a peek at this space. It’s totally functional and maybe not a magazine worthy suite, but it sure serves it’s purpose and is cozy as all get out. It’s way more inviting than when we got the house and I am really proud of how we transformed it on an incredibly tight budget and timeline.
For reference, we had less than 2 months with possession before we had these suites (up and down) renting. Since we live 8 hours away, we were only there every other week and it was often only one of us or a couple of us but with all the kids in tow. It was such a whirlwind but it’s so exciting to have it done and to be sharing this basement suite renovation with the world.
I can’t wait to show you the upstairs next!