With two small children running around, it is hard for my husband and me to get to the gym. This year, we are dedicated to creating a space inside our home to work out. The only unused space available is our unfinished storage room in the basement.
Watch how I turned this small space into a functional and modern home gym. For a list of tools and materials for this project, scroll down to the bottom of the page.
Building a Home Gym in a Storage Room: Step-by-Step
1. Enclose a Storage Space with Closet Doors
I knew I wanted to conceal the storage with closet doors. Still, I was worried about making the room feel smaller, so I opted to use a large mirror sliding bypass closet doors with no center divider to see the shelves easily.
I framed a wall with 2×4’s with an opening wide enough for the two sets of bypass doors to get them installed. Without a center divider, the doors can open to the sides or off to one side. I also elevated the opening to accommodate the baseboard for a more built-in look.
I secured the framing to the concrete floor, cinderblock exterior wall, wood-framed interior wall, and joists above. I framed the opening with 1x and installed the track and the doors.
The mirrors made the room feel larger, but I needed to brainstorm how to make them feel a little less builder-grade.
2. Waterproof a Cinderblock Wall
Because it’s a cinderblock wall, I used a waterproofing sealer with a high nap roller to seal the surface and smooth out the rough texture. We don’t get any moisture in our basement, but painting this wall made the room feel more like a finished space. This stuff goes on thick, and I almost used a whole gallon for just this wall.
3. Frame and Paint the Closet Doors
I realized the white frames and metal valance along the top of the doors were not the custom look I was after, so I decided to replace the valance and paint the mirror frames.
I started with a 1×8 board to replace the valance and tacked nails in it to curve a scrap piece of wood into an arch shape. I traced the shape and then cut it using a jigsaw. I glued and nailed a 1/4-inch-thick piece of trim to finish the cut edge and drilled pocket holes in the backside of the ends and along the top edge for installation. I then coated the new valence in black paint, and WOW, what a difference.
Next, I also brought the mirrored doors into the shop for painting. When I started prep work, I realized there was a thin plastic film on the frame that ended up taking quite a bit of time to remove properly before I could scuff-sand the metal. Now, painting mirrors can be tricky because the painted edge is reflected in the mirror, highlighting imperfections, so I opted to tape off the main part of the mirror and then use a gel masking film along the edges. This gel applies in one thick coat.
Once it dried, I could spray the frames with spray paint designed for metal surfaces in matte black. After two coats, I scored the inner edge of the frame with a utility knife and peeled back the masking gel and plastic—what a difference. After the first two were complete, I knew I was on the right track.
4. Install the Laminate Plank Flooring Wood Wall
For the final main wall of the room, I decided I wanted to add some warmth with wood tones since I wasn’t planning to use wood on the floor. I’ve used wood-look vinyl sheeting before and loved the look, but I was worried about trying to smooth that large piece vertically on the wall without ripples, so I opted for click-together planks that I could glue and nail to the wall instead.
The boards are about ¼-inch thick and click together along the length, but also at their ends, so it was important to make sure I cut from the right end of the board to start and end each row.
I marked my studs on the wall and started my first row about 6 inches off the floor so I would waste an entire course behind the baseboard. In hindsight, this was pretty difficult to level, and I probably just should have started at the floor, but I’m frugal, so I just took the extra time to level this row perfectly. I used construction adhesive to secure the planks and pin nails to face nail them to the studs without creating visible holes that needed to be filled.
The boards have to tilt into the groove to add the second row. I’ve installed flooring like this before, and it does add a bit of difficulty to do it on a vertical surface, but my best advice is
to tack the end of the first board in place, get the joints right between the ends of the boards, and then tap DOWN to lock them in place.
As I continued up the wall, I removed the outlet cover, marked the plug using a jigsaw to notch out the plug’s opening, and glued every few rows to lock everything in place.
I cut out the drywall between the studs on the final wall section to make space for some inset shelves. I finished that wall and then headed to the shop to build the shelves’ boxes and coat them with paint. While I was there, I also coated the baseboard and trim.
To install the baseboard, I used adhesive and nails and used only adhesive on the cinderblock wall. I cut the pieces but left the mirrored wall uninstalled until I laid the floor tiles. I used a piece of the rubber flooring as a spacer to raise the baseboards off the floor. Finally, I used wood filler to cover my seams before sanding everything smooth and touching up the paint in place.
Now I could position the wall shelves in the opening, secure them to the studs on either side and then trim around their edges for an inset look.
At this point, I was finally done working with the saw, so I got the space cleaned up and ready for flooring.
5. DIY Indirect LED Lighting
With the main parts of the room complete, finishing the look with some lighting was time. I wanted to add some indirect LED lighting to the space. Still, everything I looked at was pretty expensive, so I decided to create my own by sticking a strip of lighting to the back of a board and then installing it on the wall with a block at the top and bottom to hold it away from the wall. This created the glow I was after without the price tag. I also added an industrial light on the ceiling to shine more light around the room and brighten up the space.
6. Install Rubber Floor Tiles
For the flooring, I reached out to a company called US Rubber. They make a rubber floor tile that’s 94% recycled rubber that mainly comes from truck tires that might otherwise end up in a landfill. Their products come in a ton of color combinations, and you can also pick the size of the color chip, create a custom color, and even choose the thickness.
I specifically chose their Eco-lock tile in all black for a sleek look, and because it comes with removable border edges so I don’t have to cut the tabs off all the perimeter tiles, which will save me a ton of time.
For my installation, I knew my space was 6 ½ tiles wide by 8 ½ tiles long, so I just started at the corner of the room and worked my way out, but if you’re working in a larger space, you’ll want to start in the center of the room and work your way outward.
The tiles have tabs that nest tightly together, and I found it easiest to bend in the corners of the tab and tuck them together. I tried a rubber mallet, but the tuck method worked better for me.
Once I got to the mirror wall, I cut the tiles to size using a straight edge and a utility knife. I scored the tile several times with the blade and separated the parts. The hardest part was cutting to fit along the angled wall, but luckily I had a few extra tiles on hand in case I messed up.
Once I finished laying all the tiles, I installed the final piece of baseboard below the mirrors.
7. Wood Plant Wall Planter
At this point, I loved how the room was coming along, but the back wall was pretty plain, so I created some interest by gluing and nailing the leftover wood flooring planks to a piece of plywood and then added an open planter box at the base.
I filled the planter with some faux snake plants to bring a little color into the room before (adding LED lights to the back and) hanging the piece on the back wall.
Finally, I brought in our gym equipment and added a TV near the open area for guided floor workouts. And with that, the space was complete.
- Rubber floor tiles (Eco-lock floor tiles by US Rubber)
- Laminate wood flooring (plank wall)
- Mirror closet doors
- Masking gel for mirror
- LED light strips
- Cinderblock wall waterproofing paint