Is it Time for a Basement Remodel?
Has it been years since you focused on that cavernous space at the bottom of the kitchen stairs? Do you shrug or even shudder when you think about it? Then it might be time for a basement remodel!
In addition to your above-ground floors, that basement you’re ignoring could amount to 1/3 MORE magnificent living space! It would be a shame to leave such a large space in less-than-gorgeous condition. A professional design-build remodeling team such as Commonwealth Home Design has the expertise to bring your ideas to fruition.
While houses in many parts of the country do not have basements, most houses in Northern Virginia have finished or unfinished basements. It can be challenging to put an addition on a house occupying a quarter-acre and smaller lots, which is one reason a basement remodel is low-hanging fruit. You can add hundreds of square feet of living space without breaking any new ground for foundations.
Since basements are rarely designed to be optimal living spaces, they can pose design and functionality challenges that seem almost insurmountable. But where there’s a will, there’s always a way! A professional architect can mine for hidden opportunities that will result in a finished space that fills your life with joy.
16 Basement Remodeling Design Ideas & Tips That Make All the Difference
1) Gone are the days of beige drabness. Basements now embrace the current design trends of light, brightness and airiness. The illusion of height can be achieved with a treasure trove of design tricks, and horizontal space can be expanded with flooring choices and extended sight lines. Details such as stair treads, risers, and banisters should set an upscale tone, especially since they are the first thing encountered on the way down to the basement.
2) Grab as much natural light as you can. If your basement is a walk-out, adding glass in the form of windows, sliding glass doors, French doors, or walls of glass will expand the space and flood it with welcome natural light. Recessed lights and wall sconces can be designed to provide overall ample light. Add dimmers to all lights for a pleasant glow after dark. More creative solutions include interior folding glass walls, light wells, and stairwells open to the main floor. Reflective and light-colored surfaces can also help bounce light around.
3) Most homeowners want a combined family room with a fireplace and the functionality of a media room. A separate media room, closed off from all else is a luxury, if space affords, but is certainly not a necessity, nor common. In fact, many people find that they prefer the camaraderie of the family room space.
4) Built-ins around the fireplace and Smart TV provide the perfect solution for toy and game storage and are an aesthetic enhancement.
5) Fireplaces are almost a must-have in basements because they enhance coziness and can be designed as stunning focal points. Many basements already have wood-burning fireplaces that can be updated with gas inserts if desired, and with finishes that are appealing to today’s sensibilities. Direct Vent (or even Ventless) gas fireplaces can be added if none exist.
6) Playspace may be the single most functional reason for finishing a basement. Relegate the toy jungle to the basement – but wait – make cleanup easy with those spacious built-ins around the fireplace!
7) Game tables such as ping-pong, pool, Foosball, air hockey, and shuffleboard will delight the kiddos and adults as well, making parties and after-school gatherings a treat. The whole team (and the neighborhood) will prefer your house for celebratory gatherings.
8) Guest suites and private in-law suites are high on many wish lists. Basement remodels afford the opportunity for either – or both! For accessibility, chair/stair lifts and shaftless home elevators can solve between-floor access, while accessible bathrooms and kitchenettes can be designed into the plan. If your basement is buried, windows with aesthetically pleasing window wells can let in light and add code-required egress routes. Your remodeler should check local jurisdiction code zoning code regarding in-law suites.
9) Kitchenettes, bars, and wet bars are a great add-on, especially for entertaining. Consider your goals when designing; they could come in very handy for guests and in-laws.
10) Assess the structural integrity and the water-tightness up front. A solid, dry, basement is a joy, but otherwise, not so much! Professionals are your best ally in this regard.
11) Insulation must be upgraded for comfort and to meet building code requirements.
12) Don’t dismay if your basement features low ceilings, inconvenient columns, or bulkheads that hide ducts and plumbing. Some may be relocatable and others incorporated. But if not, consider the architectural phenomenon known as “compression”. Well-known architect and author of “The Not So Big House”, Sarah Susanka, makes a well-considered point that smaller spaces can feel comforting and nurturing – a welcome foil to today’s “not so small” McMansion trend.
13) Home Gyms are a much sought-after amenity, saving travel time to the gym, and helping to make a fundamental difference in your health. Dedicated space can be set aside, or equipment can share space with other functions – and possibly be hidden from view when not in use. A wall of mirrors brings the whole place alive, and seeing yourself exercising can enhance motivation. Be sure to place a Smart TV or monitor within view.
14) Laundry rooms are mostly being moved upstairs to the main floor or even the second floor, if space can be found. If not, a basement laundry can be fit and finished to please.
15) Basement bathrooms are a necessity nowadays, but they don’t need to be basic. A bit of interior design know-how can make your bathroom one you’ll be proud of.
16) And let’s not forget home offices! With the pandemic hopefully receding in our rear-view mirrors, home offices are here to stay. Sound dampening measures aid privacy. If your image of a basement home office is of a featureless, windowless cubicle, think again — a treasure box of possibilities awaits you.
Avoid These Basement Remodeling Mistakes
As always, there are a few things on the Not-To-Do list:
1) Don’t jump into a basement remodel before carefully assessing existing conditions, such as:
- Water, moisture, headroom, ducts/pipes, structural columns and beams, egress, daylight, HVAC, plumbing outlets, and equipment access, to name a few.
2) Don’t assume that you’ve already maximized the visual impact and functionality.
- There is ALWAYS room for improvement, which can dramatically upgrade your final space.
3) Be sure to comply with all state and local building codes.
When Should You Remodel Your Basement?
Fall is a GREAT time to tackle a basement remodel. Once finished, you may even feel like you’re on vacation, enjoying your cozy, gorgeous new space while the weather does what it will outside. Best of all – if your basement is the least attractive and/or least functional space in your house, consider transforming it first, and then enjoy living in it while you tackle other remodeling projects above ground.
A professional design/build team, such as Commonwealth Home Design with 35 years of experience, can usher you through the entire basement remodeling process with ease.
With a creative eye, strategic planning, and professional craftsmanship, your dank, dreary basement could become the beautiful apple of your eye, the envy of your neighborhood, and a worthwhile investment years to come.