With so many different options, it can be difficult to decide what to do with your unfinished basement—these eight ideas will lead you in the right direction
The basement is under your house, but it shouldn’t slip under your radar. Whether it’s totally unfinished or just calling out for a remodel, those underground quarters represent some of the best opportunities to increase both the comfort and the value of your home.
Why Finish or Remodel My Basement?
Finishing or renovating a basement is cost effective—so much so that it’s ranked as the room with the best value per square foot. With the structure already established and no roof to deal with, construction is often cheaper in the basement than in other areas of the house. Given the out-of-the-way location, this kind of work is often much less disruptive than it would be elsewhere.
The basement is also a space where homeowners can get creative, adding functions or settings that other rooms would be hard-pressed to accommodate. Therein, however, also lies the difficulty: with so many potential options, how do you choose? These 8 ideas will give you a great place to start, since you’ll want to clarify precisely how to use the basement before you launch into the work.
Don’t forget that you don’t necessarily need to pick one of these options at the expense of all the others. The typically large size of the basement means that there are plenty of rooms to establish all kinds of temporary or permanent partitions, which can allow the area to serve a variety of different needs. You should also be thinking about how those needs might change over the years, especially if you’ve got kids, and keep in mind how the basement might evolve with your family.
1. Carve Out a Fun Space—For Kids, Adults or the Whole Family
For many families, the basement stairwell is the threshold of fun. If you’ve got young kids, it’s the perfect space for a playroom—offering children a place of their own for their imagination to run wild, while keeping toys and other juvenile clutter out of the way of parents and guests. As the kids grow up, you can maintain the area for band practice, after school hangouts and some space between teenagers and mom and dad.
Conversely, if you’re child-free, entertain frequently, or just need a spot for a little of your own alone time, you might build a bar in your basement. Why spend money going out when you can mix up the perfect mojito from the comfort of your home?
Finally, you could split the difference and design the space for the whole family. The basement might be just the place to put the widescreen tv and plush couch that will form the basis for your tricked-out media room. Or keep the screens upstairs and set up an environment where your family can really talk and enjoy each other’s company in ways that have become difficult in many other places.
2. An Extra Bedroom and Bath
Is your family approaching the limits of the comfort afforded by your existing bedrooms? The basement doesn’t need to be devoted to some particular task or activity, but also offers the floor space to enhance more basic needs.
Even in the largest home, access to toilets, sinks and showers can be difficult. Don’t overlook the basement as a site on which to add an additional bathroom. If you’ve got the space, there’s even the opportunity to add a large vanity or install a clawfoot tub that just wouldn’t work in the ensuite.
3. Install a Home Office
Working from home, whether full- or part-time, has become increasingly common. There’s probably not an area of your house with more room to establish the perfect work space, or better equipped to offer the privacy you need to be productive, than the basement.
4. Make A Home Gym
Whether you can’t go a day without getting in your reps or you’re pushing hard to make it through 8-Minute Abs, the basement is an obvious contender for your workout spot. For the avid gym rat looking to cut down on membership bills, the basement can fit all the weight racks you could ever need alongside your rowing machine and other gear. For the more casual exerciser, even just a small portion of the room may hold the answer for where to store the stationary bike that just doesn’t fit any other room, or for locating the space you need to follow along with the YouTube bodyweight routine. The basement can be your home gym on any budget.
5. Efficient and Organized Storage Space
Too many basements become storage units by default, packed with overstacked boxes and belongings that have fallen out of favor and been hastily moved out of sight. If you lean into it, however, and put in the effort to design and outfit the room with all the shelving, hooks, and systems required to bring order to all your things, your basement could serve as the storage space of your dreams.
6. Move The Laundry Room
Is your current laundry set-up doing its job? If your washer and dryer are crammed awkwardly in the mudroom or taking up too much space in the kitchen, you might consider devoting some portion of your basement to this essential function. Don’t just hide the machines away in a dark, bare room; build out the space with drying racks and a folding station that will make washing your clothes a breeze. Add a bright or floral theme to the walls that will radiate crisp cleanliness.
7. Add An Extra Bathroom or Apartment
Depending on your set-up, you might also consider turning into its own self-contained unit, creating the opportunity to take on a renter without compromising your family space. Don’t forget to add a separate entrance for the apartment.
8. Build A Workshop
A garage or shed isn’t the only part of your house where you can install a workshop and live out your Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor fantasies. Even a smaller basement can comfortably accommodate a workbench and the other tools you need.