Expand Your Living Space
Basements provide great opportunities for expansion of living space. Most of the framework for a room is already there; it just takes a few finishing touches to dial it all in.
The first step is to determine the function or purpose for the space. Then you can figure out your improvement budget and make a game plan for the furnishings and accessories you want to add. Being totally separate from the rest of the house, it's easy to make the transition a work-in-progress and do it over time, as budget allows.
Selecting the Right Flooring
Flooring options in the basement are really no different than the rest of the house; the material should accommodate the room's function, be easy to maintain and clean and look aesthetically pleasing.
Carpet squares are easy to install yourself and sections damaged by stains and spills can quickly and easily be replaced. Ceramic tile provides a finished look and is easy to clean. Laminate and vinyl flooring mimics hardwood and stone, but costs less and is easy to maintain.
A trending option for flooring is painted concrete, which may also be the most budget friendly. Look for paint and sealers specifically formulated for concrete floors at your local home improvement store.
Hide unsightly duct work and pipes with a dropped or suspended ceiling. Ceiling tiles are supported by a metal gridwork that hangs several inches below the original ceiling. Ceiling tiles are made from plastic, foam or thin metal and can also be glued or nailed directly to finished ceilings or wood joists.
Do your research and invest in sample tiles before making a purchase, especially when shopping online. Make sure the tiles have a class A fire rating, as cheaply-made tiles can burn easily and flimsy tiles make installation difficult.
If a dropped ceiling is out of budget, try attaching fabric panels to the floor joists running parallel along the basement ceiling. Allow each panel to dip slightly in the middle, creating a wave-like pattern.
Options for Walls
Options for unfinished basement walls include:
- Fabric wall panels
- Ceiling tiles
- Faux wall panels
Curtain panels can be hung from a thin metal cable installed with wall anchors and turnbuckles or panels can be stapled to thin wood strips that are nailed or glued along the top edges of the walls. Large fabric wall panels, made from fabric wrapped around a foam base, provide three dimensional texture and pattern. Glue-up or nail-up ceiling tiles can also be installed on basement walls using a strong adhesive and masonry screws.
Faux wall panels are lightweight, interlocking panels made from hi density polyurethane that mimic the look of various woods, brick or stone. No need to hire a mason; DIY installation is possible with a few ordinary household tools.
Basement windows, if they exist at all, let in limited natural light at best. Therefore, it's important to have a good lighting system. Track lights are easy to install and can be positioned exactly where light is needed. Installing various types of fixtures such as spotlights and floodlights covers different lighting needs including accent, task and ambient lighting. Layer the lighting with other types of fixtures such as table and floor lamps.
False windows made with real wood trim and LED, rope, string or other light source types placed behind translucent window coverings like shades or frosted glass provide a clever form of wall lighting in addition to traditional wall sconces.
If you need an extra bedroom, a corner of the basement can be sectioned off and transformed into a bedroom. Use room divider screens if you can't afford to frame and build an interior wall. Soften concrete basement walls by hanging curtain panels or change the look with faux panels. Add warmth to the floor with area rugs or carpet squares.
Basement Game Room
Invest a little extra in durable furnishings such as ceramic floor tile, which will probably get heavy use in room like this. Add game tables, a card table for cards, puzzles and board games and a pub table for conversation and refreshments.
Consider a bookcase to store games and accessories. Spotlight track lights or hanging pendants aimed at or installed directly over gaming areas provide task lighting. Provide plenty of comfortable seating with inexpensive or used sofas, easy chairs, bean bag chairs and floor cushions. A mini fridge and microwave oven come in handy for refreshments.
Unlike upper-level playrooms that allow rough-and-tumble noise to filter downstairs, a basement playroom will contain most, if not all, of the noise underground.
- Go for bold, bright colors on walls, flooring and furniture.
- Large bookcases with multiple cubbies or custom-built wall shelving with cubbies provide excellent storage.
- Carpet squares are the perfect flooring option, providing a softer surface for falls and tender bare feet.
Embellish walls with kid-themed fabric wall panels or hang kid's curtain panels. If the panels are too short, sew an additional panel to the bottom in a matching solid color or just make your own curtain panels out of the fabric of your choice.
Basement Home Bar
The basement makes a perfect setting for adult entertainment at home with a home bar. Liquor can be safely locked away downstairs from older kids and teenagers and noisy guests won't disturb children sleeping upstairs. The subterranean room should also help contain noise that might otherwise disturb nearby neighbors.
Purchase a ready-made home bar or build one yourself. Stock the bar with alcohol staples and a few standard mixers to create dozens of mixed drinks.
Basement Home Theater
A basement home theater is a room the whole family will enjoy. A surround sound home theater system accompanied by a large, high-definition wall mount television or an actual projection screen will provide a theater experience in the comfort of your home. Cover walls with heavy drapes and cover the floor with carpet or carpet tiles to absorb sound.
Bring in comfortable seating such as a sectional sofa with built-in recliners and oversized bean bag chairs for the kids. If you have the budget for it, go for luxury home theater seating. Install a dimmer switch on ambient lighting or add softly lit wall sconces with low wattage bulbs or use cove lighting for soft accent lighting while watching movies.