Photo Gallery: 20 Budget Basement Decorating Tips
Learn ideas for updating your lower level.
Designer and homeowner Barbara Purdy converted a wood-burning fireplace to gas to create a cosy focal point. “I couldn’t see myself hauling logs down the stairs,” she says. Radiant heating installed under the wood-look porcelain-tile floor heats the basement as well. The sofa, a hand-me-down from her parents, was recovered and layered with pillows.
“You might have just clean white walls because you need that airiness and lightness in a basement, but you can add warm textures and dark colours in the furniture and accessories to give you that cosy look,” advises H&H style editor Sarah Hartill.
This Murphy bed uses a suspension system that makes it possible to lift with one finger. On both sides of the queen-size bed, a niche in the wall acts as a side table and is wired with a reading light. When the bed is folded up, Purdy uses the freed-up space as a workout area.
Placing this shower beside the plumbing shaft made room for a freestanding sink in the small bathroom. New plumbing was added in the laundry room, and the HVAC ducts were raised into the ceiling joists to allow for as much headroom as possible.
If you want to run additional plumbing to add a bathroom, or move the location of an existing bathroom, HGTV host Mike Holmes warns that it can be both costly and complicated. “It involves breaking up the concrete floor to install pipes and a connecting drain and making sure the plumbing is properly vented. This requires a plumbing and electrical permit, as well as qualified tradespeople.”
This finished basement feels more like an upstairs oasis because it’s packed with so many great design ideas. Floating walnut shelves, clean white walls, a gas fireplace with a rolled-steel surround, and a textural shag rug are just a few of the elements that elevate the space.
The laundry room of this renovated basement was designed to be clean and bright with lots of storage. Simple cabinets and drawers keep everything from linens to sports equipment organized and out of sight. The window, at eye level before the floor was lowered, still lets in light but maintains privacy.
Mike Holmes explains that bench pinning is a great alternative to underpinning if you want to create ceiling height in a basement: “Bench pinning costs about half as much as underpinning. The footings remain untouched but a new form is poured alongside the existing basement walls to reinforce them after the floor is dug away. This means that the inside of the new basement walls is not smooth from floor to ceiling, but that there will be a ledge equal in width to the depth you dig down around the perimeter of the basement.”
Casey saved on affordable white lacquered cabinetry but added vintage handles, a marble countertop, a gallery wall and a vintage ladder to make the utilitarian space seem special.
See more interiors by Theresa Casey.
"When choosing a wall colour for a basement, you should just embrace the space for what it is," advises H&H design editor Joel Bray. "It's not going to get any bigger, so a dark colour, or something with a bit more contrast, isn'
Williams keeps his charcoal-painted basement bright with mood lighting. “The undermount lighting in the high-gloss storage units highlights our collections,” he explains. “Shop vintage at charity shops and consignment stores. The number of fantastic lamps and quirky finds is astounding.”
See more of Arren Williams’ Houses.
This focal wall is covered in an affordable textured wallpaper and the others are painted out a creamy white to maximize light. A chandelier and table lamps allow guests to choose their preferred lighting.
Joel Bray suggests wall-to-wall carpet as an inexpensive flooring choice. “I’m all about embracing the cosiness of a basement, so carpet is a really great option. It’s really warm underfoot, especially when dealing with a concrete slab.”
See more Gorgeous Guest Bedrooms.
In Tanya Linton’s home, every spare nook is used for extra storage. With two small boys running around, baskets are ideal for hiding toys and knickknacks. In a small corner, a stack of books and magazines doubles as a side table to a painted chair.
A faux-brick wall, fireplace mantel, slipcovered sofa and vintage finds combine in this rustic space. H&H senior editor Meg Crossley cleverly concealed wiring and ductwork into one long, 40-square-foot closet behind the doors flanking the new fireplace. “My tight budget didn’t allow me to dig out the basement, so the ceilings aren’t even 7-feet,” she explains. “To compensate, I planned the decorating low to emphasize ceiling height.”
Meg turned this unfinished basement laundry room into a laundry oasis. Improper venting meant the washer and dryer had to be moved to the opposite wall, where they’re now hidden by bi-fold doors. She also added a convenient sink with a kitchen-worthy faucet, an upper shelf and lower cabinets for extra storage. A contractor cut door fronts out of MDF, and then Meg added Shaker trim for a custom look. To give the basement an airy feeling, the space was painted white. Sico’s Light Sugar (4150-11), an aged white, makes the ceilings seem higher without feeling sterile or cold. The cabinets were painted robin’s egg blue for a country-inspired look.
Meg transformed her dingy basement bathroom with an inexpensive washstand that she found at Canadian Tire. She painted it the same powdery light blue shade as the panel moulding, which was installed to brighten up the small space by covering up the original dark tile. A painted façade for the side of the ugly old bathtub, in the same shade of blue, spared Meg the cost of installing a new tub. A black framed mirror, flanked with simple black metal and milk glass sconces, adds contrast to all the blue.
If you don’t have existing plumbing for a bathroom, be prepared to splurge: “Adding plumbing for a new bathroom or kitchenette starts at $3,000,” warns Bryan Baeumler. “But new kitchens and bathrooms should increase the value of your home.”
See a tour of Meg’s basement renovation with Lynda Reeves on Online TV.
Thanks to a shag rug and low coffee table, this finished basement looks warm and inviting. Built-in shelves add storage and display space for vases, books and photos. The homeowners chose engineered wood floors for their resistance to potential dampness.
This sewing, craft and gift-wrap station was designed into a nook of a basement laundry room. The plans included built-in cabinets that provide lots of storage to organize supplies and seasonal items. Simple Ikea boxes turn the open shelves into a tidy display and white paint keeps it fresh and bright. The durable slate flooring is practical and elevates the decor.
See more Project Rooms.
Sarah Hartill gave her basement laundry room a quick and easy makeover by covering an old sink stand with a pretty floral skirt and adding a graphic print rug to warm up the cold floor tile. A countertop built to fit over the laundry machines provides a folding surface, while simple stainless steel shelves store various supplies.
“With a basement, you’re dealing with these little tiny windows, so you’re limited on natural light,” says Sarah. “I would lean towards a combination of potlights and task lights.”
Sarah incorporated space for crafts and gift wrapping to the right. The wall of cabinets holds lightbulbs, batteries, extra garbage bags and other household supplies. A pegboard outfitted with hanging containers and small rods keeps craft and wrapping materials organized while an adjoining corkboard displays inspirational photos for craft and reno projects. Open shelves were placed high on the walls to add storage space without making the small room feel closed in; bins and baskets are used here to keep small items corralled.
In this stylish but budget-friendly basement reno, designers Melissa Davis and Halina Catherine of Catherine + Davis saved by using a 7-1/2″-wide laminate floor that’s hardwearing but doesn’t compromise on style. The well-priced material works perfectly over radiant heating and is a popular choice for basements where water can damage wood and carpeting. This left room in the budget for beautiful lighting, stainless steel appliances, a full dining room table and finishing details that give this basement main-floor appeal.
If you’re considering moving the furnace to accommodate an open-concept space like this one, keep in mind the steep costs of doing so: “The price fluctuates depending on how far you’re moving it and how much work has to be done to accommodate it, but you can estimate $2,000 to $3,000,” warns Bryan Baeumler.
For more budget reno advice from Catherine + Davis, see our photo gallery of Save & Splurge Reno Tips.
If you want to create a walkout basement (for added brightness and easy exit) in an already built house, it’s a big job, but it is possible. “If your house happens to be on a slope so your basement level is actually above grade, it’s much easier to do,” explains Mike Holmes. A walkout can be created on a below-grade basement too, but the job is much bigger and involves exterior excavations, building retaining walls and addressing drainage concerns. The results are worth it if your basement is very dark and you’re looking to have a really bright, livable space.
Toronto designer Sabrina Linn appreciates the combination of elements in this basement family room. “The navy geometric broadloom rug is the grounding element in this space,” she notes. “Dark factory finish french doors frame a beautiful view but also create a focal point for an otherwise white room. Layers of mirror, Lucite and sheepskin add reflection and texture.”
See more of Sabrina Linn’s Favourite Interiors.