Where to Splurge, Save on a Basement Remodel

Madeline Pillow
Written by Madeline Pillow
Updated June 19, 2015
remodeled basement with bar, cabinets and seating area
Expensive cabinetry behind the basement wet bar is not needed to meet storage needs and achieve the desired look. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Evan Spalding, Gardner, Kansas)

Planning a basement remodel? How to trim your budget and areas where you can splurge.

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No matter what kind of basement remodel you are considering, it is a good idea to make a list of “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves.”

This exercise will make you realize your priorities for the space as they relate to your personal needs. Ultimately, this list will show you what items you are willing to splurge on and where you can save money by taking an element out of the design or reconfiguring. 

One room that can benefit from this exercise is the basement. Though underutilized, the basement offers both versatility and possibility. 

Consider these examples for your basement remodel's splurge and save list.

Basement splurges

1. Lighting

Depending on the natural light in a basement, artificial lighting can be really important to the atmosphere and utility of the space. Essentially, this is a cheap splurge in the recess lighting department. Pendant or focal point lighting will cost more but is an appropriate splurge for a wet bar. 

2. Media room

This “must-have” for many families is worth the splurge, as it will grow with your family and interests. A media room does not have to take up the whole space; you can dedicate a portion of the room as a TV and surround sound area. 

3. Ceiling insulation

This addition is helpful especially if you are adding a bedroom or media room to your basement to dampen sound. It does not need to be added to the whole ceiling; you can just apply it to certain areas where necessary. 

RELATED: Should I Install a Bathroom in My Finished Basement?

Basement savings

1. Wet bar cabinetry 

It is not necessary to buy high-end cabinetry or backsplash for a wet bar. You can purchase a more economical backsplash or do without it. This is the same for a basement bathroom — use standard tile to manage your costs. 

2. Millwork 

Instead of installing crown molding in your basement, you can choose wainscoting to add dimension to the room. Do this in a smaller portion of the room, for example, in the designated media area. 

3. Built-in shelving

This is something you can definitely save on. Buy freestanding furniture for storage. You will be able to move it when the space or your needs change.

4. Finish space needed 

This applies to homeowners with unfinished basements.

If you don’t have plans for how you will use your whole basement, consider only finishing the space you need. The rest of the basement can be used as storage. This option will allow you to save on costs for additional walls or drywall. 

Making a list similar to the one above will not only help you focus on your core needs, but it will allow you to stay on budget. See if any of these recommendations make your personal splurge or save list!

Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally published on Oct. 16, 2014.

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