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8 Basement Renovation Ideas That'll Turn Yours Into a Destination

Jun 09, 2023

Expert tips and inspiration for leveraging this valuable lower-level real estate.

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Basements are arguably one of the most neglected spaces of a home, and it's no surprise as to why. The stairs tend to be awkward and steep, the air can feel damp and stuffy, and the lack of light and murky corners are less than inviting. Despite their inherent challenges, basements offer untapped potential, and with the right renovation, can provide additional square footage and a beautiful, finished space for the whole family to enjoy.

"Many basements are on the larger side, so you can divide the space up with different rooms and create another floor for your house," notes Victoria Holly, an interior designer and founder of Victoria Holly Interiors. "For example, you can have a playroom, home gym, office, bar and entertaining area, home theater, indoor sports area, or guest suite."

The first thing Holly recommends is to sit down and come up with a fine-tuned game plan for how you want to leverage the space. From there, you can create a budget and get a handful of quotes from contractors who can tackle the job. If you're in those beginning stages of figuring out how to pursue this home improvement project, let these basement renovation ideas inspire you.

Related: 10 Common Basement Renovation Mistakes Homeowners Make, According to Experts

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With more people working from home than ever before, home offices have quickly risen in popularity and will remain a fixture for years to come. If rooms are limited in your upper levels, then renovating your basement into a home office is an excellent way to leverage this space.

Lighting is arguably one of the most important aspects of a home office, especially if you take video calls or look at a screen most of the day. Interior designer Ryann Swan recommends lighting the space in three ways: from above with recessed lighting, flush mount lighting, or pendants, at eye level via floor lamps, and at table height via task lamps.

Related: 12 Home Office Ideas That Are Functional and Beautiful

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Given the ample amount of space, many basements provide plenty of room to create an entirely new living space complete with kitchenette, bathroom, bedroom, and living room.

Holly recommends this basement renovation idea to families who frequently host out-of-towners or those who want to have an older family member stay with them permanently without having them feel like they're imposing. It's also a good option for an older child who wants more privacy, and you could even rent out the space as a way to bring in extra income.

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Keeping up with your kids' toys gets tiresome very quickly. Instead of dealing with rogue Legos scattered around your living room or using up limited space with large play kitchens, renovate your basement into a wonderland your kids can thoroughly enjoy. Opt for soft flooring and furniture, provide lots of open space for them to use their imagination, and incorporate a small table or book corner for them to color and read.

You can even adapt this space as your kids get older to reflect their needs and interests. For example, you can create a video game room for teens, or a quiet area for big kids to read, tackle homework, or study.

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It's tricky enough to motivate yourself to make it to the gym, but factor in a commute and a million other things between you and the front door, and you may find yourself putting off your workouts more often than not.

Minimizing obstacles between you and your workouts is key to sticking to your fitness game plan. There's no better way to do that than via a home gym that's literally steps away. Holly says, "You can completely outfit a room with proper performance rubber flooring, gym equipment and create a station for towels, water, and more."

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Similarly, you can turn your unused basement into a reprieve that's a boon to your mental health and well-being. Interior designer Killy Scheer says that today's trending wellness spaces lend nicely to basement renovation projects. The idea is to create a quiet and serene area for relaxation, meditation, yoga, and recovery.

"Natural lighting is great, but it can sometimes be harsh or distracting, so filtering it or working with a room that has limited natural light options is certainly not a deterrent," says Scheer. "Add window coverings to mitigate and control light, and add layers of electrical light to control the mood, such as cove lighting, overhead lighting, and low lamps."

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Bulky washers and dryers take up a lot of precious real estate, so turning a portion of your basement into a designated area for all your laundry needs is a worthwhile project. In addition to the washer and dryer, consider adding a sink, storage, and a handy station for folding, ironing, and hanging clothes.

With the generous amount of space afforded to you in a basement, also consider maximizing organization by creating a system where each person in the house has their own area to dispense and pick up clothing that belongs to them. To make your laundry room feel more inviting, install a sound system so you can listen to your favorite music or podcasts while you tend to this never-ending household task.

Related: 20 Small Laundry Room Ideas to Help You Make the Most of Your Space

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Basements are naturally dark, which provides an excellent opportunity to build your very own home theater. "A home theater is great for resale value and is fun for the whole family," says Holly. "When we design a home theater, we do proper sound insulation, surround sound, tiered sofa seating, wallpaper, projector screens, and carpet." The goal is to create a true theater-like feeling versus simply adding a sofa and large-screen TV.

Related: How to Build a Home Theater

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The pandemic forced everyone to reconsider what home means and how to best live. "Creating experiences in the home when we couldn't leave is a concept we shouldn't lose now that we're fully immersed in society again," Scheer says. That's why she loves the idea of turning a basement into a food or bar experience. It's a fun way to breathe new life into homes, foster social connectedness, and create memories while honing a new craft, such as mixology.

"Creating a showstopping bar, mood lighting, and a maximalist design aesthetic," Scheer advises. "Since these spaces aren't necessarily where people spend all day, the design can be bolder and more adventurous."