The basement might not strike you as the most glamorous of rooms. Dark and gloomy, underneath the rest of the house, it might not seem like the most inviting place.
But let's change that. If you're in your home for the long term, it's worth taking the time to make it into a space you love. You could find you have a whole load of floor space you've not been using!
Get your basement ready for living in
There are a few steps you need to take before your basement is ready to live in. First, you'll need some inspiration - have a look online, or see below for some fantastic 3D renders to help you.
As always, do your research. Check whether you'll need any permits before you start building. Are there any building regulations you need to take into account? Check for any hazards in the basement area, such as mold, moisture, or damp. Make sure you fix these before you start.
Then it's time to start planning. Think about the function of your room, what furniture will be in there, and how you'll lay it out. Making these decisions before you start filling the room means fewer unexpected problems. Why not experiment with your basement design using Planner 5D?
Once you've planned your room, it's time to put in the basics.
Your basement walls and floor are absolutely essential. No matter what you plan to do with your basement, these are the first two things you should focus on. You might need a permit if you are building new walls or changing the plumbing or wiring in the basement. As mentioned above, make sure your basement isn't damp before doing anything to the wall.
If you don't consider yourself a DIY master, you can ask a professional to put in insulation and to install the walls. There are many guides online if you decide to go it alone, but make sure you build around any obstructions.
The basement floor is no less important than the walls. As dampness can creep into it from the concrete underneath, you will need to think carefully about the materials you use. Install the flooring correctly to prevent moisture from penetrating it.
In general, inorganic, harder floors work better, as they are less likely to get damaged. Unfortunately, as basements are below ground, they risk flooding, and dealing with a flooded tiled floor is much easier than trying to get water out of a carpet. Ceramic tiles are great for a kitchen, while vinyl might work better in a home gym. If you're keen on an industrial look and don't mind the cold feel of concrete, leave the floor alone and paint it the color you like.
What colors to use in your basement
The right colors can have a significant effect on your basement. If your space receives little natural light, you'll need to make up for it as much as possible. That means using light colors. Choose an off-white rather than pure white; otherwise, it might look cold and artificial.
Don't eliminate color entirely. If you want to use your favorite statement color, use it as an accent wall. This way, you can enjoy the colors you love without overwhelming the room.
How to light a basement
Lighting should be top of your list when renovating a basement. If your space has little natural light, make sure to include more lamps than in other rooms in your basement lighting design.
Placement matters. Make sure that every corner is well-lit - hanging lamps combined with wall lamps offer variety and a lot of light. If the space is small, uplighting can make the ceiling seem higher.
When it comes to lighting colors, choose a warming one. A gentle yellow helps to create the feeling of sunlight but is also very cozy. Another way to create a pleasant atmosphere is by installing a dimmer - alter the brightness of the light depending on the situation: dimmer for a romantic dinner, brighter for a games night, for example.
Lighting can also work as decoration if you don't have much space. Pendant lamps can add decorative fun to your basement. Draw attention decor such as vases or trophies by putting them in an alcove with a spotlight shining on it.
Small basement ideas
Wondering what to do with a small basement? That's when careful planning comes into its own. That way, you can account for every inch of space.
There are many ways to maximize space in your small basement. Consider using under-stair areas for storage - this provides serious functionality.
Try to decorate in a way that feels as uncramped as possible. Save floor space by floating cabinets and make use of the walls. Dramatic floor-to-ceiling lines trick the eye into thinking it's in a more expansive area. Again, create as much light as possible to avoid dinginess.
No, or little, natural light? As we've said before, focus on the lighting. Make it seem as though you're outside. There are lots of creative ideas out there: use mirrors to accentuate what light you do have. You could even install a pretend window that makes you forget you're underground. Frame your little window with slightly longer curtains to make it seem larger.
Basement with a low ceiling? Just as with a small basement, create long lines from floor to ceiling. Furniture with a lower seat can also make the room seem higher - when you're sat on a lower chair, the ceiling appears further away!
A low ceiling does not have to mean a dingy space. One of the most powerful ways to alleviate the darkness of the lower ceiling is by opening the space to an outdoor area, with French doors or large windows.
Don't forget, uplighting creates the illusion of a higher ceiling.
Different room ideas
Which is the best room to put in the basement? There are very few limits, but you can narrow it down by thinking about your tastes and ideas. Look at the basement you have available and think about which room would work best.
Putting a bedroom in the basement might not be the most obvious choice, but it can work very well. It's quieter, as it's far from the rest of the house. A basement guest room can also feel much more private with its own door to the outside.
However, putting a guest room in the basement means that it has to adhere to many building regulations - check what the egress window requirements are in your country or state.
As bedrooms are usually upstairs, you might need to make more effort so that your basement bedroom feels as homely as possible. Coziness is the order of the day - choose a gentle color scheme and warm blankets. It's also extra important to think about the climate of the basement. Insulate it well so that it won't get too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter - and make sure it's well-ventilated, including when it's not in use.
A basement living room is an excuse for your imagination to go wild. If you have a floor's worth of basement space, lucky you! Fill it with comfortable places to sit and socialize.
If you've stuck to a neutral color scheme in this space, a living room gives you a few opportunities to splash some color. Sprinkle your own magic into your living room with pretty cushions, rugs, and other details.
Kitchen & Dining Room
Want a massive space for cooking and entertaining? Depending on how much basement space you have available, that might be a great idea. Keep your basement kitchen open plan to allow as much light to pass through as possible. Install a kitchen island, for example.
Choose furniture that isn't too high, and has reflective surfaces. This keeps the light reflecting around the room.
Why not create a unique dining space for you and your friends and family? It's a calming room to enjoy dinner and drinks in a separate area from the rest of the house.
A home office can benefit from being in the basement; it's a room away from the distractions of the rest of the house.
Again, think about lighting. Avoid eye strain by investing in enough light to read, write, and use a computer. If you need to spend time looking over paper documents, choose a good-quality desk lamp.
Keeping the space free from clutter helps avoid that dark feeling you can get in basements and also eliminates distractions. Concentration suffers in a muddled space! Invest in great storage and make sure there's no dampness in the basement - the last thing you want is to come back to musty papers.
And damp doesn't just affect papers, but your health. If you're going to work from home regularly, make sure this is a space that you're happy to be in for hours on end. Somewhere you can breathe easily, with comfortable, supportive seating.
What is a walkout basement? It's one that connects to an outdoor space at ground level. If you have one of these, you have one of the most versatile spaces.
Link your home to your garden with floor-to-ceiling French doors for that seamless transition between indoors and outdoors. Huge windows make the whole space seem delightfully airy. Get all the vitamin D you can, even if your room is mostly underground!
If you're struggling to decide on how to use your basement, consider creating a space for your hobbies. Devote space to shelving so that you can keep all the equipment you need and make it easy to access. Have a comfortable space to sit so that you can enjoy yourself. If you have particularly visual hobbies, mount some of your artwork on the wall. It'll remind you of what you're capable of and keep you inspired.
The basement is a great place to watch films and listen to music. Hang a screen on your wall, and it'll be like having the big screen in the privacy of your own home. Surround sound completes the atmosphere, but don't forget to soundproof it so that you don't bother your neighbors! Finally, decorate with your favorite album covers and movie posters.
If you decide to turn your basement into a wine cellar, keep the room at the optimum temperature to look after your wine. You'll need excellent storage to show off your wine collection - look for items that allow you to view your collection. For example, invest in a good wine rack and a transparent fridge to keep your wine fresh.
Less of a wine connoisseur but miss going out for a drink? Turn your dreary basement into a cool bar. Choose a good-quality countertop and comfortable seating.
Whether you choose a bar or a wine cellar, a walkout basement is a great option. Stay cozy on a rainy day and go outside to sip wine in the garden when it's sunny. You'll feel you're on holiday in your own home.
If your local gym is closed, why not bring the gym to you? This saves you spending money on a monthly membership, and also saves you travel time!
Think carefully about the space before committing - is there room to stretch and move around freely without getting cramped? Decide where you're going to place your equipment so that you won't be walking into low-hanging bars or tripping over wires. Also, consider where you will store loose items such as weights and exercise balls when not in use.
Your choice of flooring matters - make sure it's non-slip. This keeps you safe when doing exercises where you have to move your feet, but also means you're less likely to slip on stray sweat patches. Talking of sweat - make sure you ventilate the room well!
A gym you enjoy being in is a gym you'll actually exercise in. Decorate it in a way that suits your taste and include some mirrors to check your form.
We've already talked about man caves, but a basement is an excellent place for one! Its location makes it a perfect place to escape, whatever your gender.
Make it a place for all of your hobbies - use the other ideas in this article for inspiration!
Planner 5D has so many ideas for kids rooms, take a look here.
The basement offers a designated area for kids to do messy arts and crafts without getting glue and paint all over the house. If the basement can lead out into the garden - even better! Your kids can enjoy the great outdoors easily, and the basement provides a transition zone to remove muddy boots and wash grubby hands.
Basement decoration ideas
Remember, the challenge of decorating a basement comes down to making sure enough light gets in. Combining the above tips will give you some idea: lighting is one of the most effective ways to achieve a gorgeous atmosphere in your basement. Ceiling-mounted lighting creates a lighter space - hang pendant lamps for functional beauty.
Make the most of your windows. If you can enlarge them, do! Otherwise, design your room layout to allow the most light in. Reflective surfaces and mirrors give extra oomph to the light that is getting in.
Use decorating as a way to overcome the challenges that a basement presents. Vertical lines increase the distance between the ceiling and the floor. Light tones brighten up the space and make you feel like you're above ground.
So don't forget about your basement! It's not just a room under your house - it has the potential to change your whole home. While it's a very challenging space to renovate, it can be so worth it. Use the tips above and build a space that gives you joy. Have you renovated your basement? Tell us about it in the comments. And don't forget to share your dream basement ideas with us on Instagram!