Inspiration Home: Finished Basement Tips

February 23, 2012

I've been looking at homes lately. Particularly how to make a smaller home go a long way. I like those mortgages that allow you to include funds for renovating. So naturally I've been very interested in basements. For obvious reasons I don't like basements as living spaces. No light, tiny steps, ugly flooring, paneled walls, drop ceilings. Gug!

BUT, there are ways to get around these yucky negatives! I recently came across Dixie Delight's basement makeover. It's just lovely! She says when she bought the home the previous owners said it had a 'finished basement' but that term had been used loosely as it wasn't very homey. So often a 'finished basement' is basically just a waterproofed space with none of the elements that make a 'finished space' feel, well....finished.
 She used white paint, recessed lighting, board and batten for a homey feel and new wood flooring. I would always recommend using wood flooring over carpeting. Carpet SCREAMS basement. Even if it's laminate, it's always more appealing to look at.

Also, if you have a door leading outside, replace it with one that has windows from top to bottom. Take any opportunity to let in light where you can get it.

Speaking of light, here's where you can make the biggest dramatic change.
You might want to invest in excavating a few recessed windows.
They'll have to be held back by a retaining wall like this one made of masonry, stone or wood but I think if I were remodeling my basement it would be worth the extra investment. Getting the window lower to the floor gives the room a more above ground feel. Here's a before of a finished basement with standard basement windows: (via housebeautiful)
And here's the after:
You might not have even known this was a basement bedroom if I hadn't shown you the before!
With such low ceilings it's also best to install recessed lighting. (via apopofpretty)
As for the drop ceiling issue. Sometimes it's just unavoidable. But these days there are workarounds. I used to be a big fan of tin ceiling tiles but not so much for a basement. However, white decorative styrofoam panels look nice and are much cheaper! See below:
My favorite alternative is wood tiles with a wood track system! They are a bit darker than the white ceiling tiles and I usually recommend using as much light surface material in the basement as possible but they give such a homey feel I'd be willing to bend the rules on these especially if you're going with carpeting.
Also Ceiling Max and Ceiling Link are drop ceiling alternatives that screw directly into the floor joists so you only loose about an inch of space compared to seven inches. The bonus to doing this over drywall is that you can still have access to your pipes and electrical wires as it is a tile system. Of course, this isn't doable for everyone especially people with older homes that have had central air installation.

And if you're really daring you could try these faux wood beams! They're styrofoam but look so real! Many varieties of looks.
Another idea to make a basement LESS basementy is to expand the staircase. Nothing feels more claustrophobic than those narrow, steep, boxed in staircases that normally lead to the basement. Eliminating a wall and expanding the width will go a long way in making the basement a part of the first floor.

I would even eliminate the door and wall that leads to the basement steps and replace it with a banister. Ideally, the steps to the basement should be as open as the steps from the second to the first floor. Something like this below:
Also adding a twist to reduce the steepness helps!
If you have multiple rooms in your basement it's also a great idea to add windows just below the ceiling in the walls between rooms. It helps to let light flow between spaces. And don't forget to install a door with windows (even frosted ones like the door in the Pop of Pretty photo six pics above would do).
 Also, adding a fireplace helps to make the space feel warmer.
 So to recap!

-White or light colored walls. Board and batten a plus!
-Wood flooring
-recessed lighting
-windowed doors
-recessed window system
-Joist connected ceiling system
-decorative white or wood ceiling tiles
-faux beams
-open staircase
-dividing wall windows at ceiling level
-fireplace

And voila! You've just opened up at least a third more floor space in your home!

Of course you could go a completely different route.......
 But I'll save that for another post;P

11 {comments}:

Adventures in Dressmaking said... Best Blogger Tips

Ooh, lots of good ideas! The house we're buying has a bonus room in the basement--it'll be my husband's game/music room but I don't want it to be a cave for him. Thanks for the inspiration!

Michelle P said... Best Blogger Tips

Wow definitely saving this post. I want my basement to look like this.

The Sewing Dork said... Best Blogger Tips

Ooh, I have some serious basement envy now.

Emily said... Best Blogger Tips

Wish I had a basement!!

Jude said... Best Blogger Tips

What wonderful advice for my "someday cellar." Thanks for rounding up these swell photos!

Sunita Ghosh said... Best Blogger Tips

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Knitaholictoo said... Best Blogger Tips

Would totally love the pool in the basement! Holey smokes!

Marilee said... Best Blogger Tips

I learned so much from your descriptions and pictures. I live in California and hardly ever see a basement that you could live in. So I thought ths very interesting.

john edison said... Best Blogger Tips

A 'finished basement' is basically just a waterproofed space with none of the elements that make a 'finished space' Nice Blog but We transform your unfinished or previously Outdoor Living Ideas into a healthier and comfortable area.

faux wood beams said... Best Blogger Tips

Those faux wood beams are BIG for that kids room...looks really good though. I now must have a basement for my next home, those two photos were inspiring!

Michelle Smith said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks for the tips. They are very useful and handy
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