INDIANAPOLIS – For under a few hundred dollars, you can turn a typical basement obstruction into something unique and functional. This is a Home Zone about support columns which are typically found in basements and even in two-story homes. 

Most columns on second floors are boxed in, but many in basements are left bare.  They serve a major purpose to hold up your house, but they’re not exactly attractive.  You can simply paint them, if you’re going for an industrial look and that only costs you a few dollars.  But here is another way to box them into nice columns and more.  The steps are fairly easy and inexpensive.

Consider your options

Before you do anything, consider running electricity to the steel posts because maybe you will want to put an outlet in the post or install a nice sconce.   If your basement is unfinished and you know how to run electrical wires, drop a wire to the posts from the ceiling and run it to a convenient switch location. 

The before

As always, connect it to the breaker last and turn that breaker off while working on electricity.  I have my sconces connected to a dimmer switch, which is also controlled by Alexa.  Even if you don’t use the electricity that you ran to the post, you can cap it off and save it for possible use at a future time. 

Time to box

Now back to boxing in the steel columns.  There are many ways to do it, but my method was to use lumber I had and a few other items. 

I started by cutting scrap 2x10s into 9.5″ squares.  Then I notched out one side of each 2×10 so they can slip around the pole.  My basement pole was four inches in diameter, so that’s how wide I notched out the 2×10 to slip around the poles.  I cut out those pieces with a jigsaw. I used pressure treated wood because the bottom piece would be attached to the cement floor. 

I then made a three-sided box out of those 2z10 pieces and plywood.  The plywood was measured just barely long enough to go from floor to ceiling, minus about 1/8 of an inch.  And because it was just short, I could slip it around the pole and attach it to the ground and ceiling with screws.  You can also use adhesive.  It keeps your column from just spinning around. 

Then I attached the fourth side of the column to box it in fully.  After that, I cut and wrapped drywall to fit around the plywood.  Once mudded in, the post is done if you’re going for a basic boxed in look, but you can do more to make it unique and functional. 

Let’s get pretty

One easy method to pretty up your post is to put “picture frames” on all four sides of the post.  They’re basically just trim pieces of wood, cut to size, mitered at the corner, and nailed on, then painted.  It’s up to you to determine how big you want the frames and where they will go.  I considered that option, as that’s what I have upstairs but decided to change it up for the basement.

Showing off the fabric choice

Instead, I wrapped my the middle of my basement posts in fabric because I had not seen it done before.  I used a soft suede fabric.  It looks kind of like leather and feels really soft, which is great if you brush up against it or bump into the post. 

You can purchase what you like at a local fabric store.  They come on rolls in widths around four to five feet, which was perfect as I decided to cover just the middle of the eight-foot columns.  Generally fabrics range from $10 a yard to $55.  The stuff I got was $15 per yard and only required three yards for two posts.  This is where you can get creative, with what you like and the rest of your decor.

To save more money, most fabric stores have apps and coupons that can save you a lot of money!  The savings are from 20% to 80% so if you can, download their apps or go online to look for deals before you go into the store.

Attaching fabric

When attaching the fabric to the post, there are several methods.  I simply stapled the 40-inch wide piece of fabric near the edge of one side and then pulled it all the way around the post so it was taunt.  Once you come all the way around the post, staple it again. 

You can also fold over the fabric to have a nice straight edge and attach it with nice upholstery tacks.  For my posts, I cut a thin one-inch wide piece of wood to cover up the staples. I first stained the wood about the same color as the fabric so it would blend in.  The wood was attached with finish nails long enough to go through that piece of wood, the fabric, drywall and into the plywood. 

For a finished look, cover the edge of the fabric with horizontal trim pieces, bottom and top.  It also protects the fabric edge from fraying.  And of course don’t forget about the very bottom and top of the posts.  I used 1×8 baseboard pieces and shoe molding next to the flooring for the bottom.  For the top of the posts, where it meets the ceiling, I cut and installed a more ornate crown molding.  It’s whatever you like best.  The posts were almost done at this point.

Electric feel

Back to the electricity that I ran to the post at the beginning of this project.  I drilled out the posts on one side with a four-inch hole saw about a foot above the fabric. That’s where I mounted an electrical box flush with the post.  Then I inserted an electrical box into that hole and mounted it to the post as per the directions. 

Then I simply pulled the wires through box and wired it to the sconce that I chose and mounted the sconce to the electrical box. 

The after

One final suggestion is to install a dimmer switch so you can change the light level for whatever your mood or need.  The total cost of turning two steel posts into columns wrapped in suede with top and bottom molding and lit up by scones was under $200. 

If you have a Home Zone project you did or are planning, email me at SJONES@FOX59.COM so we can show it on air.  This is especially true, if you video taped the project during the process so it can help out other viewers.