Many homes have a basement that offers lots of additional space. But that space isn’t able to be fully utilized because the area is too cold, too damp, too dark, or too generally uncomfortable. One of the most obvious options is to fully finish the basement, but this can be both time consuming and cost prohibitive.
If a total renovation isn’t within your budget, what steps can you take to turn your basement into a more livable space?
First, investigate the walls of your basement for any cracks or gaps. In some cases, a major crack can be a troubling sign that the foundation is in need of repair. But most of the time, small cracks are the simple result of house settling and other natural processes.
Cracks are problematic because they’re a source of air leakage, making it harder to maintain a consistent internal climate. They also serve as a source of moisture and may promote the growth of mold. Fortunately, most of the time, cracks can be sealed with the right sealant product.
Install and Run a Dehumidifier
If your basement suffers from an abundance of moisture, it can be incredibly uncomfortable. There might be an easy solution to this: investing in a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers work to pull moisture out of the air, storing it for later disposal or continuously running to an attached drain. A simple dehumidifying unit is usually a couple hundred dollars or less, and it costs very little to run in terms of electricity – but it can make a big difference in the overall feel of your basement environment.
Invest in Foam Floor Tiles
The basement in most homes has a hard concrete floor. While this is useful for some applications, it can also be uncomfortable – especially if you’re walking or doing activities on the floor regularly. One of your best options, if you don’t want to invest in a complete reflooring project, is to buy and install foam floor tiles.
Foam floor tiles are inexpensive, they’re easy to install, and they offer extra cushioning and support for even the hardest surfaces. Plus, you can buy foam floor tiles in a wood grain style, giving your basement a cozier, more inviting feel.
Improve the Lighting
One of the biggest comfort problems with a typical basement is that it’s too dark. With small windows and minimal natural light, you simply don’t have the psychological benefits of sunlight reaching the interior.
If you want to see your environment better and improve your mood in the process, you’ll need to invest in better lighting. Use a mixture of indirect and accent lighting to bring life to the area.
Get the Air Moving
Even with a dehumidifier running, there’s a chance the air could feel stale – or that your basement isn’t heated or cooled as efficiently as the rest of the house. One solution to this problem is to get the air moving somehow. Even a simple box fan or ceiling fan can do a decent job of circulating the air, making the environment more comfortable. If paired with a portable space heater, you can also keep the basement warmer in cold months.
Improve the Smell
Does your basement have a dank, unpleasant smell to it? Some of the other steps on this list may help. But if you’re still struggling with the smell, you’ll need to do some investigating. Is there a root cause you can identify and eliminate? Or is there a lingering general odor that can’t be traced? If the latter, you can often use deodorizing products to either get rid of the scent or introduce a newer, more pleasant scent to the area.
Choose the Right Furniture
Next, you’ll need to spend some time choosing the right furniture. Your basement environment will seem much more welcoming and comfortable if there’s a deep, comfy couch on which you can sit or a reclining armchair that’s so supportive you could fall asleep in it.
Place Some Plants
Finally, consider getting some houseplants (or fake plants) for the area. A splash of greenery can instantly liven the mood of your otherwise dark and stagnant basement. Plus, the mere sight of a plant can have profound effects on your mental and emotional wellbeing. Choose some species you personally like, or ones that are easy to take care of, for the best results.
Improving the look and feel of your basement doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, even a handful of sub-$100 upgrades could be all it takes to transform your basement into a living space as comfortable as your own living room. Plus, if you come to like the space, you can always invest in a full renovation later on.