Photo Gallery: 20 Budget Basement Decorating Tips
Learn ideas for updating your lower level.
Repurpose old furniture instead of buying new.
Designer and homeowner Barbara Purdy converted a wood-burning fireplace to gas to create a cosy focal point in this room. “I couldn’t see myself hauling logs down the stairs,” she says. Radiant heating installed under the wood-look porcelain-tile floor adds even more warmth. The sofa, a hand-me-down from her parents, was recovered and layered with pillows.
Incorporate a guest bed into your existing layout instead of putting up new walls for a separate bedroom.
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, homeowners Barbara and Michael Purdy use the freed-up space as a workout area.
Work with existing plumbing.
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.
Learn more Budget Basement Decorating Tips, watch an Online TV tour of this basement, or see more Barbara Purdy Designs. Plus, for more bathroom decorating ideas, check out our gallery of 20 Small Bathrooms.
Paint the ceiling and walls white to make a small basement seem larger.
A finished basement feels more like an upstairs oasis when it’s packed with so many great design ideas. Floating walnut shelves, a gas fireplace with a rolled-steel surround, and a textural shag rug are just a few of the elements that elevate the space.
To see a full list of our reno trend predictions, view our 2011 Reno Trends photo gallery plus, find out which trend looks Lynda Reeves and Suzanne Dimma like most. Plus, watch a tour of this basement on Online TV and learn more Budget Basement Decorating Tips.
Consider bench pinning as a cheaper alternative to digging out a basement.
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. A farmhouse sink and industrial style faucet and art lined along the countertop make the decor more worthy of a main-floor room than a basement for chores. Accessories like matching canisters and a dark tray finish the look off.
Embrace brick walls instead of drywalling over them.
A red accent wall adds the appearance of depth to this room and feels bold and cheerful in contrast to the basement’s simple black and white scheme. The gallery wall features original drawings from designer Theresa Casey and her husband, Robert Gray.
Dress up basic basement cabinets with vintage drawer pulls.
Designer Theresa Casey renovated her 600-square-foot basement to include an office, guest bedroom and luxe laundry area. She 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.
Paint walls a dark and dramatic colour for a cosy effect.
Stylist Arren Williams‘ basement was designed to be both practical and beautiful. A modern sectional sofa in a charcoal fabric can sit many people while two cane ottomans can be used as side tables or additional seating. To create the perfect setting for movie night, Williams chose a heavy, full-height velvet curtain to block out any unwanted light.
Accessorize with affordable vintage finds.
It seems counter-intuitive to paint your basement walls and ceiling in such a dark hue, but stylist Arren Williams kept the space bright with mood lighting. “The undermount lighting in the high-gloss storage units highlights our collections,” says Williams. This modern design has a masculine feel without crying out “bachelor pad”.
Wallpaper one wall instead of four.
In the 2009 Princess Margaret Showhome, the lower level was finished with style. A focal wall was covered in a textured wallpaper while the others were painted a creamy white to maximize light. A chandelier and table lamps allow guests to choose their preferred lighting.
Use storage space under the stairs instead of building new closets.
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.
Choose low-profile furniture to make ceilings appear higher.
A faux-brick wall, fireplace mantel, slipcovered sofa and vintage finds combine in this rustic space. Meg cleverly concealed wiring and ductwork into one long, 40-square-foot closet behind the doors flanking the new fireplace.
Pinch pennies with MDF cupboards and add your own trim.
H&H senior editor Meg Crossley 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. Meg 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.
Give a big-box store find a high-end look with a coat of paint.
Interior’s director Meg Crossley 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.
Install a gas fireplace as an inexpensive way to supplement heat from rads.
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.
Get more Budget Basement Decorating Tips in our photo gallery.
Make low ceilings appear higher with customized built-ins that maximize vertical space.
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.
If you can't afford to move pipes, keep the sink as-is and dress it up with a fabric skirt attached with double-sided Velcro.
H&H style editor 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.
Plan for multiuse corners to maximize functionality in a small basement.
This laundry room doubles as a storage room, craft area and wrapping centre. Cabinetry built along the wall opposite the appliances 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.
Opt for laminate floors over more expensive hardwood — they're more durable and resist moisture damage common in basements.
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.
Skip a walkout plan if your basement isn't at grade.
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.”