I’m so excited to share our $100 basement home gym today!
For the past four weeks, I’ve been busy transforming part of our dark, creepy, unfinished basement into a clean, functional home gym with an industrial flare.
As if that wasn’t difficult enough, I took this project on as part of the $100 Room Challenge. The $100 room challenge is a challenge started by Erin from Lemons, Lavender, and Laundry to make over one room in your home in only one month with a $100 budget. Definitely challenging!
This is my third time taking part in the $100 Room Challenge; last year I made over our main bathroom and our family room and I was so thrilled with what I was able to do in both spaces with my tiny $100 budget.
This time I decided to tackle our basement home gym. My husband has been using one side of our unfinished basement as his home gym for several years now but it hasn’t been the nicest place to work out.
Check out these terrible before pictures.
Cold cement floor covered by random carpet remnants, cinder block walls, loose insulation hanging down from the ceiling, dim lighting, a window covered by a piece of chain link fence (why?), and piles of stuff stored everywhere. Not exactly an inspiring spot to get fit.
Four weeks and $100 dollars later, this space has come a long way!
$100 Basement Home Gym
Now that’s a basement gym!
It is much more masculine and industrial than my usual aesthetic but the industrial vibe is perfect for the unfinished basement space. I mean when you’re working with exposed rafters and block walls, I’m pretty sure industrial style is the only thing that’s going to make sense!
(I did my best with these photos, but they really don’t do this gym justice. You can probably imagine how difficult it is to take good photos of a basement with difficult lighting and support poles everywhere you turn.)
This post contains affiliate links which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more. Click here to see my full disclosure policy.
Decluttering the Basement
This basement makeover started with lots of cleaning and decluttering. I donated piles of stuff to the Goodwill and then moved the things we were keeping to the other side of the basement.
If decluttering and getting rid of stuff is hard for you, I’ve shared a bit more about that process and a trick that really helped me let go of things in this post.
I also removed the pegboard, the chain link fence over the window, and other random things from the walls.
Painting the Basement Walls
Once the junk was cleared out of the way, I scrubbed everything down really well and then I got to work painting the walls.
Our basement has cinder block walls and only a few areas had been painted previously.
Before painting bare cinder block, you need to use a block filler to prevent future moisture problems and also create a paintable surface.
This is a lot more time-consuming than painting regular walls. Cinder blocks are highly textured and have lots of peaks and valleys to cover with the filler.
You can use a paint roller for highly textured surfaces but you’re also going to need a large, stiff paintbrush to get the paint into all of the mortar lines and other grooves. A masonry brush is perfect for this.
Once the filler was dried, I painted the walls with Valspar masonry paint in the color Repose Gray by Sherwin Williams. I think bright white walls can look cold and stark in an unfinished space like this, so I went with a warmer light gray instead.
My favorite part of the walls is the huge GYM mural. I started by drawing the letters onto the wall using sidewalk chalk. That way I could easily see if the letters were all even before painting and it was easy to wipe off the chalk when I needed to adjust a few lines.
Then I filled in the letters using a flat black paint. Chalkboard paint works great for this or you can use a sample of black wall paint.
The Floor and Ceiling
Our unfinished basement has a pretty standard concrete floor and an open ceiling full of joists and ducts and insulation. It would have been great to be able to upgrade them, but that wasn’t in the budget.
I considered getting some mats to cover the floor, but in the end we decided it wasn’t necessary. Instead we just used a few carpet remnants we had on hand to cover some of the concrete.
If you do want to use mats, I’ve heard that you can save money by using horse stall mats rather than mats marketed for gyms.
I also left the ceiling the way it was. I really wanted to paint the ceiling joists to brighten things up, but there is already insulation installed there and I didn’t want to mess with it.
The lighting is one of my favorite changes we made in the space and it was so simple.
Before there was a fluorescent light in one side of the space and a bare bulb hanging down on the other side. We removed the fluorescent fixture completely and hung string lights from the ceiling, criss-crossing the space.
It was a simple change, but it warms up the space so much and helps make it feel cozy even though it’s still open to the rest of the unfinished basement.
The huge chalkboard was another fun DIY project. It was so inexpensive to make and it looks gorgeous. It’s fantastic in this space but it would also look perfect in a playroom, family room, even a farmhouse style dining room.
I hung it using 2″x2″ boards screwed into the ceiling joists.
Along the bottom of the chalkboard frame are two upside down drawer pulls to hold chalk.
My husband has been using this chalkboard daily since the gym was finished to keep track of reps and weights and his workout schedule.
Furniture and Storage
We moved our old TV onto an old typewriter stand in this corner. The size isn’t perfect but it works.
There’s a little basket in the floor that holds the power strip that the TV and lights are plugged into as well as a small space heater we sometimes use.
The typewriter stand and the rustic bench were both things that were already in the basement from previous thrifting adventures.
We also put an old set of school lockers against one wall. I found these lockers a few years ago at a yard sale for only $10 looking rather sad.
You can see all the details on their makeover right here. We’ve had them upstairs for the past few years, but I was ready for a change in there and I knew they would be perfect in our home gym.
Of course, it was also important that this space actually works well as a gym. There’s no point in having a nice looking gym if it doesn’t function for working out!
My husband was the brainpower behind most of the layout. One half has a large open area with lots of space to move around. There’s also a hook on the ceiling in that area for hanging the punching bag.
The other side contains the weight bench and all of the free weights. The lockers hold smaller dumbbells, gloves, jump ropes, kettlebells, and other equipment.
Here are a couple of before and after comparisons.
Talk about a crazy difference!
Okay, so as always, the big question is did we stay on budget?
Well, as I explained last week, we did have to spend $60 on block filler to prepare the cinder block walls to be painted. I’ve decided not to count that in the budget for this makeover. It’s more of a home improvement project that needed to happen regardless and isn’t really specific to the room design. So not counting that, here is the budget breakdown for the space.
Basement Home Gym Budget and Source List
- Paint for walls: Sherwin Williams Repose Gray mixed in Valspar Masonry paint, $26
- Paint roller for highly textured walls: $4
- Paint for GYM letters: already owned, free
- Materials for chalkboard: $21
- Pulls for chalk holders: already owned, free (these are similar)
- String Lights: $28
- Lockers, typewriter stand, bench: already owned, free
- All of the weights and equipment: already owned, free
Woo-hoo, not bad at all!
And in case you missed them, you can see my other $100 room makeovers here:
$100 Modern Farmhouse Bathroom Reveal
I’d love for you to pin this post on Pinterest!
You did it! Love the huge letters on the wall and the chalkboard. What a great space to workout in. Just the push we all need to exercise!
Thank you so much Patti!
Holy moly! What an awesome makeover. You guys did great. It makes me want to work out – well, almost ;)
Haha! Thank you Gabby! It is definitely a way more pleasant place to be!
Sonya Delaney says
I’m looking for ideas as well but what about the exposed insulation? How did you finish that health issue?
Good question Sonya. In the end we didn’t do anything with the insulation. We left it exactly as it was. I know that is not ideal but it has been in place for many years and leaving it undisturbed seemed the best route since we weren’t going to cover it at this time.
Molly | Awfully Big Adventure says
Goooood grief this is an awesome transformation!! Love the huge gym letters and looove the string lights. The lockers are the perfect touch, what an awesome thrift find! You’re making me jealous of basements, they’re not very common here in Texas. Great job!!
Thanks Molly! The string lights seriously make such a difference in person!
This turned out so amazing! I love the GYM painted on the wall. And it looks like the perfect place to sweat it out. I would love a home gym, but sadly we do not have any unused spaces. Maybe in the next house.
Thank you Kati – we are super lucky to have this huge space and I’m so happy we are actually going to use it now!
Rebecca | R&R at home says
This is such a creative way to fancy up an unfinished basement gym!! I am LOVING those lockers!! Perfect touch!!
Thanks so much Rebecca! Those lockers were such a lucky find – you should have seen me trying to fit them in my SUV to get them home though!
Natalie @ NeliDesign says
This is just incredible! It probably is so more motivating to work out in that space! Awesome job!
Thank you! And yes, definitely more motivating!
Carrie!! You did a fantastic job on this makeover. And can I just tell you I was practically drooling over those lockers and then shocked that you scored those for $10 at a yard sale!! And I can’t wait to check out that DIY chalkboard – it’s so perfect in there! Great job and this would motivate me to exercise!
Thank you so much Melissa! The lockers are definitely one of my favorite thrift finds ever! And I love that chalkboard – I would love to have one in another part of our house if we had the wall space!
Wow! You made an unfinished basement look good! Even with insulation in the rafters! You just gave me to much hope for my own basement.
I love how it turned out! The chalkboard and bench are such pretty touches to the space. :)
Thank you Emy! I’m glad I gave you some vision for your own basement – I’m really starting to brainstorm some more things we can do in our basement other than storage. Maybe somewhere to send our boys to let off steam?!
Meredith @ The Palette Muse says
I am so impressed! This is a HUGE improvement, and I bet your husband loves it. I love the lights, the chalkboard and all the little touches that make it fun and cool. You just proved that even a home gym is worth the time and effort to make it look nice!
Thank you Meredith! I definitely think any space that is worth having can be fabulous with a few creative touches!
Wow! those before pics…priceless. for sure looks like a fun place to workout. Love how you embraced the industrial look. It’s perfect.
Thanks Kelli! This was definitely the perfect space for the industrial look – and it worked so well!
Varsha Villas says
This looks so good!! Have improved a lot. I love the chalkboard and the gigantic letters “GYM” on the wall. It makes me jump there and work out right now. I know I’m lazy though ;)
PS. Good improvement, Carrie :) Love it!!
Thank you so much Varsha!
Erin- Lemons, Lavender, & Laundry says
I cannot believe how different this space looks now! I love that huge chalkboard (and the brilliant idea of using upside down pulls for the chalk). The lockers are perfect down here… and it all just looks so clean and ready to go. Another amazing room done! Thanks for joining in another round of the challenge!
Thanks Erin! I’m so thankful for this challenge – so many spaces in our home are finally living up to their potential!
What a difference! It looks great! We want to do a Home Gym space in our basement too. Definitely pinning for inspiration later!
Colleen @ Life on Kaydeross Creek says
What a transformation! I’ve been wanting to do this in our basement and this may have just given me the push I needed to actually get it done. I love it!
Yay, I’m so glad!
Meg Green With Decor says
How nice to have a home gym! I love the letters on the wall and that pretty chalkboard!
Thank you Meg!
I love the painted walls. They make all the difference. And a great idea to put in a chalk board! Love it!
Thanks Wendy! It really is amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do!
[email protected] says
DRASTIC improvement!! Seriously, your husband has to love this makeover. I love the GYM painting idea.
Thank you Ashley! He does love it and has even been taking his guitar and coffee down there Lol.
What a huge difference! THe industrial vibe is perfect, and I LOVE how you painted “GYM” on the wall – looks so cool!
Thank you Jenny!
This is stinking awesome!!! I might even work out in there. Your chalkboard is so great as well. The bin pulls for the chalk is genius! I am going to remember that one.
Thanks Jessica! Those bin pulls may be a small detail but they are one of my favorite parts too!
What a difference! Looks great! The lettering on the wall is a cute touch.
Thank you Cheryl!
I’ve been so looking forward to this reveal and you did not disappoint! I love the oversized letters and just the whole industrial vibe of the room. I half expect to hear Eye of the Tiger playing in the background! Right about now I’m kicking myself for making my husband take his punching bag down.. :) Great job!
Haha, thank you Kim!
Morgan Murray says
This turned out great! Everything is so organized and functional! I’m sure it’s a great space for working out now! I love your chalkboard idea! I have a chalkboard on my list of potential 2018 ideas and the chalkholder idea is great! Congrats on a great new space!
Thanks Morgan! I really love that chalkboard too and it was so inexpensive to make!
Looks fantastic. What’s the flooring that looks like cork?
Hmm, we have concrete flooring and also some old carpet remnants down there so I’m not sure. :)
Do you have a tutorial of how you did the chalk board?
I don’t have a tutorial for this and I really should! I’m going to work on getting that up ASAP. Thanks.
Steve Martin says
Amazing blog and best selection of words totally informative for every one thanks for sharing