Long gone are the dark, gloomy and cavernous basements of yesterday. With proper planning, a well-executed basement renovation can help your family enjoy the extra square footage you may have long forgotten.
A Welcoming Lower Level
Today’s basements are becoming more integrated with the first floor of house, and are typically referred to as a “lower level” rather than a basement. In the past, the entrance and stairwell to the basement were often narrow and dark. Nowadays stairways are designed to be more open and inviting, and frequently feature a nice railing or banister for an added touch. Also, some homeowners are choosing not to have a door to the entrance, which increases the integration of living areas and allows light to flow naturally from the first floor. Generous lighting is an important factor in making the lower level feel warm and inviting, and most homeowners find they need significantly more lighting in this area than elsewhere in the home to achieve this objective. If possible, take advantage of natural light by installing large windows or French doors. A project in Arlington creatively brought in light from a skylight on the third floor to the basement via an open stairwell. Don’t forget to include ample lighting controls as well. Recessed lights close to a wall can mimic light that would typically come from a window.
Repurposing Your Space
So, you’ve decided that you’d like to use your basement as more than a storage area and laundry room, but how do you choose how the extra space should function? Starting with an assessment of your needs is the first step. If you’ve had any life changing events, such as a new baby or caring for aging parents, you may want to consider a nanny or in-law suite. Just keep in mind there are egress requirements that will need to be met with rooms like these. Have a hobby or interest you’re passionate about? If you’re a wine enthusiast, you can choose anything from simply having a wet bar with a wine refrigerator, to having your own self-contained, temperature-controlled, walk-in wine cellar and tasting room. Or, if you or your children are artistically inclined, consider adding a crafting area or studio. A recent remodel in Great Falls featured a scrapbooking area for the homeowner, as well as a place for the kids to do arts and crafts.
Fun for the Whole Family
Many basement renovations revolve around creating an entertainment area for the family. Home theatres and media rooms have long been a great way to entertain family and friends, catch the big game, or watch the latest blockbuster, but increasingly theatres are being designed with open floor plans making the space more multipurpose and creating a more interactive, social atmosphere. Or, if gaming is your thing, add pool tables, dartboards, pinball machines or a poker table to increase the fun! This area also makes it possible for teenagers to have their own space to hang out in, but you’ll have peace of mind knowing it’s in a safe environment. If fitness is a priority for you, an exercise room is a great use of space in your lower level, and you won’t have to worry about waiting on anyone else to use the machines. Designing a play area close by will allow you to work out and still keep an eye on your tykes at the same time.
It’s All in the Details
People often underestimate how much “stuff” they actually have, so it’s always a good idea to include ample storage in the design. Custom built-ins can help optimize the storage space you have – add doors to conceal clutter or use the shelving to display books, trophies, sports memorabilia, etc. If you frequently buy in bulk, consider adding a pantry in your lower level to store items until needed. Don’t forget architectural details that you would use in the rest of your home. Crown molding, substantial baseboards, wainscoting, and beadboard ceilings can go a long way in helping to make the homeowner forget the space was ever a gloomy basement. There are a tremendous amount of options out there that can help transform the sublevel of your home into an expanded living space that uniquely fits your family’s lifestyle, interests, and hobbies. A design build remodeling expert can help you develop a plan to maximize the lower level of your home for your family’s enjoyment.