A basement that's going unused because of its unfinished state or downright scary atmosphere is living space waiting to come alive. Invigorate a cold, unfriendly or spine-chilling area's persona with area rugs, plush furniture, plenty of pillows -- and fabric on the walls. Hang textiles in one of a few basic ways, but only after you make sure the space is fabric friendly.
When fabric and dampness get together, mold is born -- and a moldy basement is not a healthy place to hang out. Before hanging fabric on basement walls, rectify any moisture issues. If the space is too humid simply because of temperature changes or dankness, a space heater or dehumidifier should help; for serious dampness or mustiness, look at improving ventilation.
If water seeps through wall or floor cracks, filling them with mortar may only provide a bandage; the exterior walls might need to be resealed, or the drainage, improved, such as with drain tile to carry rainwater away from the foundation.
Curtains aren't just for windows -- think of them also as ready fabric walls. Although masonry wall anchors provide secure screw housing for mounting curtain rods on concrete or brick walls, look up for another option. You may be able to screw ceiling-mount drapery rods to overhead joists.
If they're sufficiently full and thick, the wavy effect of ceiling-to-floor curtains creates almost insulation-like warmth, blocking at least some of the chill that can come from unfinished walls and disrupt your low-level retreat's comfort.
Stick It to Them
Crinkly fabric-covered walls look much homier and chic than rough, exposed concrete. Liquid fabric starch acts as the glue to secure fabric panels to the wall in wallpaper-like fashion. Mix things up by using a patchwork or wall-tile design of pleasantly contrasting patterns and colors. Paint gray concrete white, so it won't discolor semi-transparent material.
Alternatively, adhere fabric smoothly to lightweight foam-insulation panels, and mount the panels to the wall with caulking -- the foam-board adhesive type -- or use double-sided tape for a more temporary wall treatment. This effect can appear more prim than crinkled fabric, and the foam makes the room's temperature more inviting.
In the partly finished basement with framed walls, but no drywall, introduce your fabric to a stapler to cover the exposed studs. Measure and cut fabric panels a little long -- you can trim any excess from the bottoms when they're in place. Work from a corner out and from the top down, until the wall is fully covered.
If you prefer a draping effect, wrap the top end of each fabric panel around 1-by-2-inch strapping, and mount the strapping end to end along the top of the wall. Weight the panel bottoms or tack them to studs to keep the fabric flat.
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