Do It Yourself: Designing Basement Rooms


Many homes have lots of wasted floor space in basement areas. Adding a family room, bonus room or bedrooms in a basement can increase a home's value substantially. Since the floor, walls and ceiling are basically in place, this creates an initial cost savings in a basement remodeling. The fact that a basement is separate from standard living areas offers opportunities to create privacy areas. For example, a basement might be a good place to add a home office or in-law apartment.

Things You'll Need

  • Basement remodeling books
  • Basement remodeling magazines
  • Online resource websites for remodeling
  • List of local building codes/restrictions
  • Measuring tools
  • Sketch pad and pencil
  • Graph paper
  • Home design consultant
  • Obtain basement design books and remodeling magazines to gather ideas. Envision how the space will be used in terms of family fun, entertaining guests or sleeping. Go online to check out basement makeovers that other homeowners have accomplished. Visit local authorities early on to obtain a list of building codes and restrictions regarding remodeling a basement.

  • Measure the basement area to be remodeled. Draw various floor plans on a sketch pad that will work well with traffic flow from the floor above. Sketch the space to include all rooms, bathrooms and a living area that will work for the project. Address each specific floor area in initial planning. Sketch stairs that need to be built to access the basement from upstairs living areas, for example. Draw any special amenities, such as floor-to-ceiling bookcases, to be included in the final remodeling.

  • Sketch the colors that will be used for walls and flooring materials with colored pencils. Envision the finished space in terms of furniture placement. Draw where every piece of furniture will be placed and the general sizes of those pieces. Add windows in the drawings using colored pencils to define colors of blinds or curtains that fit the decor.

  • Meet with a home designer to discuss any moisture problems or issues with basic construction. Figure out what mitigation will be needed, for example, in terms of a dehumidifier or moisture-proofing work. Discuss with the home designer where wall framing will be placed and how all electrical and plumbing needs can be addressed. Ask this person to review every square inch of the basement space that will be under construction to build the new rooms. Write down issues and concerns to discuss with a general contractor.

  • Create a list of materials. Devise a general budget for those materials and talk with a contractor about labor costs. Decide if family members can invest time or labor to reduce some of those costs. Allow teenagers, for example, to paint a living space or bedrooms. Visit close-out sales to buy bath or kitchen fixtures at a reduced price.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep a basement space light and airy by using light colors on most walls. Add accent colors in flooring tiles, cushions, artwork and furnishings to add pizazz. White walls will reflect light to help prevent mold growth as well. Dark walls, flooring and furniture can easily facilitate mold growth in a slightly damp basement area.
  • Never begin construction without fixing basement moisture issues. Talk with an expert about any major problems, such as water leaking through basement blocks after a rain storm. All of your investment can be lost, due to water damage, if the basement is not properly prepared before building begins.

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