If you’re a homeowner with an unfinished basement, one of your first priorities should be finishing it so that you can maximize this valuable square footage. Whether you want an extra bedroom, an exercise room, a playroom, or a workshop, a finished basement can provide all of the flexibility you need.
Here are some simple yet useful strategies for bringing your unfinished basement to life:
- Clear out the Junk
If your unfinished basement has been sitting untouched for years, chances are it’s accumulated quite the array of junk, piles, boxes, and cobwebs. It’s time to get rid of everything – or at least store it somewhere else – so that you can begin with a blank slate. This is a very important step in the process. (Trying to work around junk will limit your ability to transform this room into a manageable space.)
- Waterproof Your Basement
If you’re going to do this thing right, there’s no sense in taking shortcuts. Now is the perfect time to waterproof your basement. (When else will it be this empty?)
Basement waterproofing is a relatively simple process that provides an array of long-lasting benefits, including flood prevention, healthier environment, lower moisture content, and a significantly lower risk of having to file a costly insurance claim.
- Finish Off the Ceiling
Do you have a horrendous and tacky drop ceiling in your basement? Getting rid of this archaic design feature will instantly make your room feel bigger and more sophisticated.
The good news is that most drop ceiling removals are fairly straightforward and can be done on a DIY basis over the course of a weekend. The key is to remove the ceiling in the reverse order it was originally installed. This means getting rid of the tiles first, lights second, and metal grid third. Once these elements are removed, repair the original ceiling (if necessary) and add new drywall. Or, if you prefer the exposed “industrial” look, you can leave it alone.
- Pick a Style
It’s smart to be thinking about what sort of design style you want for your basement. Are you going for posh and elegant, sportsy man cave, industrial hangout, wine cellar, game room, or something else?
The sooner you pick the style, the faster you can begin implementing the right elements – including flooring, wall paint, and any built-in statement pieces (like shelving, bars, etc.).
- Address the Lighting
One of the biggest knocks on basements is that they often feel dark and dingy – particularly if you don’t have any windows (or if the windows resemble tiny peepholes). But you can fix this with good artificial lighting that makes the space feel warm and cozy.
If you’re already replacing a drop ceiling, you’ll find it fairly simple and non-invasive to install recessed canned lighting.
“Great for seating, dining, and crafts areas, the downlighting offers bright light while minimizing shadows and glare,” Better Homes & Garden mentions. “They’re also a game-room favorite, as the recessed fixtures aren’t easily damaged by wayward pool cues or Ping-Pong balls.”
The key with basement lighting is to avoid harsh fluorescent bulbs and to go with something warmer. With little or minimal natural light, you can’t afford to have too much harshness. (It’ll end up feeling more like a laboratory and less like a family hangout.)
- Make it Somewhere People Want to Be
No two basement remodels will be the same. The key is to make it a place where your family and friends will want to spend time. Whether that’s sipping a cup of coffee while reading a book on a lazy Sunday morning or watching football with a beer in your hand on Saturday night, it needs to have a vibe that you enjoy.
Invest in Your House
Out of all the places you can invest your money, an investment in your house is almost always a smart decision. And when it comes to home investments, the basement is a great place to focus your resources.
By investing in your house, you’re not only increasing the value of your home (which should give a financial ROI at resale), but you’re also increasing your satisfaction. There’s something about renovations that turn a house into a home.
So take your time and do the job right. This is something you’ll enjoy for many years to come!