Extreme D.I.Y. for Home Decor

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For some homeowners, the pandemic has provided time to tackle projects that had lingered on the “Honey Do” list. Rineeka Sheppard had long wanted to add a concession stand to the home theater she and her husband, Steven, had built for themselves in the basement of their five-bedroom house in Indianapolis in 2018.

But life always got in the way. They both worked and were raising three teenagers and a 5-year-old. But in April, Ms. Sheppard, 38, was laid off from her job collecting defaulted student loans at the state’s Department of Education because of the pandemic and suddenly her calendar was wide open.

“Finally, it was the time,” said Ms. Sheppard, whose favorite part of going to the movies is the concession stand. “With Covid, I was able to step back and take a breath.”

While Mr. Sheppard, 43, a mechanic, built out the space, Ms. Sheppard scoured Facebook Marketplace for the décor, finding pretzel and nacho chip warmers, a snack display stand and a glass-fronted mini refrigerator. (She already had a popcorn maker that she had bought on Wayfair.) Every concession stand needs a soda fountain, and she eventually found one from a restaurant that was going out of business. Through social media, she found a retired Coca-Cola repairman willing to come out and install and service the machine.

Mr. Sheppard spent months finishing the basement walls and floors, installing drywall and new flooring. He built the counter out of wooden pallets, and painted the room black with red accents. He expanded the movie theater from six seats to 10, adding a row of risers in the back and two additional recliners in the front.

“A lot of times, I was like, ‘Aw man, I can’t do it,’” said Mr. Sheppard, who on one occasion worked from noon until three in the morning. “Time looked the same down there, I couldn’t tell if it was day or night. So I just kept working.”

They finished the space in January. Ms. Sheppard loves having an escape where the family can curl up and watch movies together. “When you have an upset stomach, you can just go downstairs and get a Sprite,” she said. “When a movie came out, we were able to go downstairs and the baby was able to watch it and eat his popcorn and have his candy and it felt like we were actually in a movie theater.”

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