10 Basement Renovation Tips You Need To Know
With square footage at a premium, more and more homeowners are looking down to up the value of their homes. Finished basements are great flex spaces, whether you’re looking to add a rental or in-law suite, spare bedroom, home office, rec room, laundry area, kitchenette or bathroom. To ensure you’re prepared before taking the plunge, we asked designers Erin Feasby and Cindy Bleeks of Toronto firm Feasby & Bleeks to share the top basement renovation tips they’ve learned from their projects, including this family-friendly basement featured on H&H TV.
1. Create a focal point. Basements can lack character and focal points, especially when they’re long, narrow spaces. One of our top basement renovation tips is to create a central feature, like a gas fireplace, to help define the space and keep things warm and cozy.
2. Situate windows in the main living space. Often basement windows get relegated to storage and furnace areas, which is a waste of natural light. Try to place the main living space where the windows are to maximize natural light there, rather than in storage or furnace areas.
3. Seek alternatives to wall-to-wall carpeting. The tendency is to use wall-to-wall carpeting for basement flooring because it’s warm and comfortable. However, one of our basement renovation tips is to ask your contractor or flooring installer about different subfloor materials for insulation and waterproofing. Under-floor heating is a great way to heat basements, and engineered hardwood and some vinyls can be laid on top of heated floors. Even when floors aren’t heated, engineered hardwood or hardwood-looking vinyls are warm underfoot and practical. Soft area rugs and runners can be layered on top, too.
4. Utilize the space under your stairs. This is often wasted space and you can do something that looks great and really serves a purpose — like a kitchenette, wet bar, desk or built-in storage.
5. Condense bulkheads. Structural beams, plumbing and electrical can often be condensed into a single bulkhead. Think about areas where it won’t matter that the ceiling is not as high, like above seating and TV areas. If you can narrow a bulkhead at any point in the room, do it and don’t forget to paint bulkheads in the ceiling color, not the wall color.
6. Opt for modular furniture and lower-backed pieces. When planning and ordering furniture, measure the width, height and turning radius of your stairs down to the basement. You don’t want to be stuck with a custom sectional that won’t fit down the stairs.
7. Make laundry rooms pass-through galley spaces. If your laundry room needs to be in the basement, save space by making it more of a pass-through galley space with a pocket door, rather than a room of its own.
8. Layer lighting. Recessed lights are great for overall lighting when ceiling heights are lower. Then, use under-cabinet lighting in kitchenettes and laundry spaces, and add a few decorative fixtures for task and mood lighting.
9. Try and squeeze in a three-piece bathroom. Another one of our key basement renovation tips is to look at large cold-storage areas, like under a porch or entry, as places that can sometimes be insulated and turned into a bathroom. Lower ceilings are okay in toilet or shower areas like these.
10. Have fun with finishes. Layering textures and patterns throughout your basement lends interest and character. Cool tiles and mixed metals will bring personality to utilitarian spaces like bathrooms.