How to get the most out of a basement renovation's extra square footage.
More evolved than rec rooms of years past, today’s basements are being transformed into any imaginable setting: home office, gym, bedroom, family room, laundry room, kitchen — the possibilities are endless.
As with any renovation, planning is crucial. Before starting a basement reno, be sure you have a strong, well-thought-out plan in hand before beginning the transformation. Since most homes’ mechanical systems, plumbing pipes and electrical wiring are found in the basement, consider hiring professionals to help you ready the space for its makeover.
Once you’ve ensured that your plan addresses adequate storage, lighting, electrical and data needs, discuss what type of ceiling to install with your builder. If your basement has a ceiling height of less than eight feet, finishing off the ceiling with painted Gyprock or sheetrock is a good option, but requires the installation of access panels to pipes, wires and plumbing for any repairs that may be required.
If your basement’s ceiling height is more than 8 feet, consider installing a suspended ceiling. Functional and attractive, a suspended ceiling consists of a grid that is installed to cover and hang from the existing ceiling. Grids are available in a range of colours or can be concealed with decorative strips. The ceiling panels, typically measuring 24” x 24”, are set inside each square of the grid, forming a dropped ceiling that allows for access to wires and pipes behind. Panels that mimic the look of tin, beadboard, and gypsum board are available and can easily be matched to the style of your space.
Lighting is an important consideration in a basement renovation, as these areas are typically dark, dim spaces. Recessed lighting is one of the most widely used and effective fixtures on the market. Paired with ambient lighting, recessed lights brighten a room without taking up floor space. However, recessed or pot light fixtures require more space for installation above the finished ceiling. Be sure to have your contractor or electrician check that you have enough height above the ceiling to accommodate the can part of the fixture (the smaller the can, the more expensive the fixture). If the height of your basement ceiling does not allow for recessed lighting, wall sconces are another suitable option, while table and floor lamps can be situated almost anywhere in the room, providing there is an outlet nearby (be sure to include numerous outlets in the design of the space).
Built-in storage always looks sophisticated, saves space and can further add to the function of your new room. Always try to plan for the maximum amount of storage possible: from drawers carved out under the stairs, to built-in shelving and closets — one can simply never have enough.
Trim and Moulding
Inject character into your new basement living area by adding architectural details found in the rest of your house like wainscotting, crown moulding and baseboards but be sure to design these to scale. For example, 36” high wainscotting will look more appropriate with a basement’s lower ceilings than the standard 42” height variety.
Consider the function of your renovated basement when choosing flooring for the space: a playroom will benefit from a soft floor made from play mats or carpet while laminate or hardwood flooring will add warmth to a guest bedroom. Since basements are moisture-prone, be sure to prepare its sub-floor before installing whatever type of flooring you have chosen for the space.
For more reno inspiration and ideas, browse our guide.