Basements today, are an extension of the main living hub of our home. They are a space where the kids play video games, play house and have slumber parties. It’s where you may have set up your home office where you work, pay bills and plan family trips. It’s a spot you might exercise, read, watch Netflix together or even host friends to watch the game on your big screen.
With all these activities and a busy family life, it’s important that your basement not just functions to suit your family’s needs, but that it feels less like a dark and dingy cave and more like a warm and comfortable spot where you can relax and entertain. It should be a place you look forward retreating to at the end of a long day.
Is your basement working for you this way?
Whether you currently have a finished basement and need to change things up or are planning on renovating your existing one this spring, here are some things we recommend to help make your basement work better for you and your family:
1.Choose the Right Flooring
In an area that is typically considered to be slightly colder than the rest of the home, sticking with carpet can keep it feeling cozy. It’s nice on the feet and provides a soft landing for active kids and teens. There are a wide variety of options out there to choose from that will provide you with equal amounts of style and comfort.
A great example is SmartStrand by Mohawk Flooring. They say this carpet has it all – “spill protection, permanent stain resistance, long lasting durability” making it x3 times easier to clean dirt, hair and pet dander. Don’t believe us? Maybe this video will change your mind…
We also suggest splurging on a higher quality under padding as it’s totally worth it. Your feet will thank us later.
Laminate, vinyl or ceramic tile are also good alternative options if you don’t love carpet as it’s easy to clean and maintain. It’s best to avoid hardwood flooring in all basement areas altogether where high humidity and moisture seem to prevail.
2. Choose the Right Paint Colour
We are big believers that paint can work miracles which is why we talk about paint so often in both home staging and redesign. Psychology of colour is a thing and colour can make your space look and feel a certain way.
We know basements have some (or all) of these notable features:
- Small, few or no windows
- Deck overhangs or garden shrubs that block most of the natural light
- Low ceilings (8 feet or less)
The goal is to use colour to open up the space making it feel bigger and brighter which should, hopefully, draw less attention to those low ceilings. Your basement does not have to feel like a basement (shocking, but true). And “brighter” does not always mean you have to paint your interiors white, off-white or grey. You can and should have some fun with colour.
Here are some great examples of basement spaces that feel warm and inviting, bright and bursting with personality.
3) Fixtures that Fit
Colour and lighting go hand in hand. Just like peanut butter and jelly or the cream filling in a Jos Louis, one makes the other that much better. You can choose a great colour to paint your space, but without adequate lighting (there is such thing as too little or too much lighting), the colour you chose just won’t have the same impact on your space that you were hoping for.
Use pot lights or ceiling mounted flush fixtures whenever possible and avoid large hanging decorative pendants or chandeliers – save these for your main level where you’ve got more ceiling space to play with. Creating layers of light using a combination of wall, floor and table lamps with light coloured shades will help create pools of functional light around your space and ensure there’s enough light to go around the room.
4) Creating “Zones”
Basements are often large open spaces and without furniture in the room, it can sometimes feel like the layout doesn’t quite make sense. Since many use their basements for a variety of activities, it’s a good idea to roll with that further and create “zones” for activity. This will help define zones within the space for certain activities and will tie the basement together making it feel cohesive.
An example of this would be to create a TV/relaxation zone with a comfortable couch or sectional and some accent or lounger chairs, a office zone with a desk, a bookcase for storage and a chair and finally, maybe you have room for a kids zone that’s dedicated to your kids, their toys, playtime and/or homework.
This is an area where we receive the most requests for help from home owners as the vast majority of open-plan spaces or odd basement configurations can make furniture placement very tricky. Furniture placement is the number one way to create zones and is the single biggest thing to make your basement function for your efficiently. Using area rugs and accent walls also help to create zones.
5) Highlight Architectural Details
If you have any unique architectural details in your space, feel free to play them up to better integrate them into your space. An example would be decorative columns throughout a space or a brick feature wall like this one:
If you don’t have any architectural details in your space, you also might consider adding one.
6) Create an Income Suite
Some people or families might not have any use for their basement altogether. In this case, you might be interested in turning your basement into a rental suite to provide you with some additional income. This is a really great way to have your home and more specifically, your basement, really work for you (quite literally).
If you are creating an income or rental suite, consider the following:
- Will you have a shared or separate entrance? – separate entryways are a better selling feature for renters
- Is there shared or a separate kitchen and laundry facilities?
- Installation of proper window mechanisms for safety and easy escape in case of emergency
- The number of rooms you could have the ability to rent
These are just a few things to factor into your plans if you are creating rental suite.
Finished and renovated basements today, still prove to add value to your property and will provide a greater return when you decide to sell. The exact return on your investment will still depend on variables like where your house is located, the square footage of the finished area, height of your basement ceiling, amount of portioned walls, proper ingress and egress and the quality of the finishes.
Need help redesigning your space? Check out our work and connect with us to see how we can help create that basement you’ve been dreaming of.