If you’re looking for a way to add space to your home and improve its resale value, look no further than under your feet. That’s right: your home’s basement is a gold mine waiting to happen—if you know what to do with it. Read on for some ideas for how to turn your basement from a hole in the ground to not only a livable space, but a lovable one.
Many basements are small, taking up only a portion of a home’s footprint. Other times, parts of the basement are unusable for livable space since they house your gas furnace or other equipment. That can leave only a small amount of square footage that you can turn into comfortable and usable space. Don’t fret, however. We at Basement Repair Specialists have some small basement ideas for you. We can even help you learn how to turn a basement into a bedroom, a legal one that will up your home’s value right away.
Your basement is a great place to upgrade your home, but only if it is relatively dry. Basements can be notorious for water seepage through improperly prepared walls, cracks in your home’s foundation, or leaky windows whose seals have failed or have developed gaps as your home’s foundation shifted. Before you begin your remodeling, make sure your basement is safe, free of mold and mildew, and will remain dry, even in severe weather.
Basement Repair Specialists can come to your home and evaluate your basement’s suitability for a bedroom or living room. This is a crucial step to take before you begin remodeling. If not, you run the risk of ruining your new carpet, paint, and furnishings should water come in.
If in our evaluation, our specialists discover that your basement shows signs of a sunken foundation, we can help you correct that, too, before you start learning how to make an unfinished business livable. Our dedicated team can recommend stabilizers, repair cracks, and even lift an entire foundation if that is called for.
Now that your home is ready for that basement remodel, here are some ideas:
There are many definitions of “finished space.” For some, painting the basement’s concrete walls will suffice. That isn’t going to go far toward making the space comfortable, though. Put in some framing and insulation on your existing walls, then cover them with either drywall, foam walls, or paneling, depending on the look you desire. That extra step will help keep the space warm in winter and cool in summer as well as give a more polished and finished look.
Let’s face it. A lot of basement spaces suffer from a lack of light. A darker, gloomier space can be less inviting—unless you’re a troll, goblin, naked mole-rat, or another underground dweller. This tip is about adding more light to your basement. There are several ways to do that.
Brighten a basement by choosing a light color for your walls. Perhaps not stark white—you don’t want to go too institutional—but a light color such as a warm beige or a soft yellow. The lighter color will reflect light and provide a cheery mood. Paint your trim, woodwork, and doors a bright white with a semi-gloss finish to provide even more brightness and shine.
What you floor your basement with will partially depend upon your risk of taking on water. If your risk is quite low, you’ll probably want to opt for carpet, to add to the insulation and up the coziness factor. A light-colored carpet will further brighten the space and make it seem more like above-ground living.
If you need to opt for a flooring option that can be mopped or better handle a floor drain in case of water issues, there are light, bright choices there, too. Whether you install ceramic tile, linoleum, or laminate, choosing a light color will make the space more inviting and bright.
One of the best small basement ideas to make it seem bigger and brighter is to add a fake window. You can do this by using an old wooden window frame and backing it with a mirror. Hang the “window” on the wall where a window might be, as you would a piece of heavy artwork. The mirror will reflect the light and the window frame will give the appearance of a window. This technique will instantly make a basement room feel more bright and liveable.
If you’ve subdivided the basement into several rooms, you can also add a window from one room to the next. In this case, you’re adding an actual window, that may or may not open, to an interior wall, looking from one basement room into another. This technique also helps brighten the space, and in some cases can be functional, especially if you’re living in a basement.
If you want to add light but don’t want to be able to open a window, glass blocks can be a great small basement idea. You can be decorative with your placement, and not beholden to a square or rectangle design. Glass blocks allow light in, but they don’t have the same problems of leakage or breakage that windows have. Additionally, glass blocks are secure. Potential thieves or unwanted intruders can’t break them to enter your home.
If your basement already has small windows at the top of the wall near the ceiling, you have a source of light to the room. However, that room cannot be considered a legal bedroom because there is no egress, or way to exit, from the room in case of fire. Building codes are quite strict about legal egress windows, establishing minimums for how high the window can be off the floor, how tall and wide the window must be, and a minimum opening area. If you want your basement remodel to create a bedroom that you can either rent out or that you can put on your sales listing as a bedroom, then you’ll need a legal egress window installed.
Basement Repair Specialists has helped countless customers install basement egress windows that are safe, legal, and keep out the elements. We can help you, too.
Most window wells built years ago are made of metal and are in a small semi-circle around a basement window. They let in some light and allow for a window to be larger, but they could be so much more.
By digging out a larger space around your basement windows and expanding the window well, you can beautify the space in several ways. First, the bigger the window well, the more light you’ll let into your basement. Second, you can tier a window well and create a small garden or ecoscape. Imagine opening your basement window to pick some fresh herbs growing in your window well garden. It could happen with this remodel idea.
If you have a small basement and want to make the most of the space, consider installing a hideaway bed. This might be a traditional Murphy Bed that hides in a bookcase or behind doors, then folds down for use. It might also be a trundle bed, a sofa bed, or a futon. Your basement can be a living room or game room by day, and a bedroom by night.
Most staircases into unfinished basement spaces are functional, but not beautiful. Often they are narrow and steep. Usually they are hidden behind doors from the upstairs. One small basement idea that can open up the space noticeably is to change from a tunnel staircase with walls on each side, to an open one using a half-wall or a banister and railing. Not only will this improve the look architecturally, but it will add light and turn a claustrophobic stairwell into an invitation to enter the new space.
While you’re doing the remodel, you can also consider widening the stairway. This will make it easier to get furniture and appliances down into your new space as well.
You don’t want water seeping or draining into your newly remodeled basement. It’s worth the investment to install foundation drains, change the slope away from your home, upgrade your downspouts or add rain diverters to keep your new finished basement dry. Not only will you be keeping your basement dry and mold-free, but you’ll also be protecting your home’s foundation from cracks, settling, and shifting—all of which can happen if water destabilizing the ground around your foundation.
Basement Repair Specialists is a trusted name in the Minnesota and Wisconsin area. If you’re local to the Twin Cities or the greater Madison area, give us a call and we’ll help you scope out your basement’s potential for a remodel with basement living room ideas. We’ll help you with basement bedroom ideas and how to get your space ready for the finishing, whether you’re a DIY or want to hire a contractor.
For more information about your basement repair needs, visit our Basement Repair Blog.