If you have an unfinished basement, you’re sitting on a fantastic space that’s just waiting for its potential to be tapped. There’s no need to build an addition onto your home when you have a huge space down the stairs that could give you and your family an additional 1,000 sq. ft. of living space.
Basements can be transformed into family rooms, theatre rooms, playrooms, home offices, spare bedrooms, games rooms, rec rooms, craft rooms, gyms, and laundry rooms — as well as the ever-popular “Man Cave.”
If you’re interested in finishing your basement — but maybe a little fearful about the work involved — call up a few different renovators to get quotes. They’ll be able to explain what will be involved, and what kind of budget it will require.
If you’re primed to DIY, there are a few things to keep in mind with basements. The ceilings are often a bit lower, and there may be posts, pipes or equipment — like water heaters and oil tanks — that need to be considered. There are also legal requirements about doors and windows, particularly if you plan to add bedroom to your basement.
Before you make any plans, walk around your basement and think about the best way to use the space. Does it make sense to have one, big open room? Or is there a nook off to one side that could be walled in to make a great home office? Will you add a bathroom? Is there enough space for a giant projection TV? Of course!
Since basements usually have smaller windows, you might find it tricky to get enough natural light into each space. If you opt to put up walls and divide up the basement, a set of French doors can prevent the light from being trapped in certain sections. Stick with light paint colours to keep the rooms feeling bright.
Remember, if there’s a musty smell in your basement, it’s best to address it before you dive headfirst into the renovation — because it’s fix at the beginning of the project, rather than the end.
Think about each stage of the project before jumping in. Before you install the ceiling, make sure you’ve planned out your lighting. Recessed lights are very popular for finished basements. Before the walls go up, determine if you want any of the sections of the basement to be soundproofed — or if you have any wires you’d like to hide, like those from the TV and surround sound system in your new home theatre.
Of course, basements were traditionally used for storage, and you may still require yours to store a few things — like seasonal decor or sports equipment. Finishing your basement doesn’t mean you’re stuck renting a storage unit, or dragging all of those boxes out to the shed. You can plan to leave a section of the basement unfinished for storage, or finish it entirely and create a simple storage room with shelving. While you’re at it, maybe you’ll want to build a little wine cellar or cold storage room next-door to it?