How to Design a Basement Apartment


Whether your basement is in dismal shape or clean but sitting empty, you may consider designing a basement apartment to earn extra income through rent, serve as a bedroom for your teenager or in-law, or provide a place for friends and family to stay when they are visiting from out of town.

  • Hire an architect or draftsman to help you plan the apartment space most efficiently. If you have experience with renovation projects, take measurements of your basement and sketch a basic floor plan to guide the construction.

  • Consult with your local building department. Find out of your basement apartment renovation will meet code. In some cities, bedrooms are required to have a window to the outdoors. Before beginning construction, get all necessary permits.

  • Install pipes to accommodate a simple bathroom with a sink, toilet and possibly a shower. Check to see if wiring allows for new outlets, switches and cable connections. Again, check with your local building code to be sure you are in compliance.

  • Finish out the space. Unless you are experienced with do-it-yourself projects, hire a contractor. Your basement may currently have concrete floors and walls, so in order to create a livable space, install finished flooring such as wood, tile or carpet. Frame out the walls, cover them with drywall and paint them a light color to make the space feel larger and brighter.

  • Add furniture and decor. If your basement is small, consider a studio apartment arrangement with a daybed. For larger spaces, create a living area with comfortable couches, chairs and pillows. Finishing touches such as paintings, pictures and other decorative items will make your basement space feel more like home.

Tips & Warnings

  • Install light wells if your basement receives no natural light.
  • Make a low basement ceiling seem higher by painting the ceiling a light color, adding ambient light sources that direct light at the ceiling and installing floor-to-ceiling drapes or bookcases.

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  • Photo Credit bedroom image by Jorge Casais from
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