A basement remodel has the potential to amplify the livable square footage of your home while also improving quality of life for you and your family. Whether you’re seeking a versatile multipurpose space or have a specific purpose in mind such as a fitness center, home theater, home office, or rec room, remodeling your basement can turn that vision into a reality.
However, basement remodels have unique challenges. Failure to factor these in can interfere with your project’s process, create delays, and lead to poor outcomes. On the other hand, awareness of these challenges—and experience with managing them—can help you stay on track to attaining the basement of your dreams.
That’s where this guide to basement remodeling projects comes in. If you’re thinking of undertaking a basement remodel, this comprehensive guide covers key considerations, professional tips, and other actionable advice for planning the perfect basement remodel.
What to Consider in a Basement Remodel
As with any remodeling progress, your goals for your basement space are one of the first things to consider. This means addressing basic issues like who will use the space and how they’ll use it. Answering these questions will inform your decisions across everything from flooring materials to furniture to lighting.
Budget is also a critical consideration. If your basement is already finished, your basement remodeling project will cost much less than if you’re starting with an unfinished space. Additionally, the space’s purpose is also a major factor in its cost. For example, if you’re planning on turning your unfinished basement into a guest suite with its own bathroom and kitchen, you’ll spend more than you would on turning a finished basement into a playroom for your kids.
The good news? Not only is financing available to help you move forward with your basement remodeling plans, but in addition to providing sought-after added living space, basement renovations are also an excellent investment.
In fact, converting an unfinished basement into a living area is one of the top four home improvement projects in terms of boosting resale value. You can expect to recoup roughly 86 percent of the project’s costs when the time comes to sell, according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2022 Remodeling Impact report.
5 Professional Tips for Your Basement Remodel
While basement remodels offer many benefits, proper and proactive project planning is essential for making the most of this popular home improvement project.
1. Identify any moisture issues
If your basement suffers from dampness or wetness, the underlying causes must be addressed before you start your basement remodel in order to prevent water damage. A variety of internal and external factors can contribute to moisture problems in basements, such as excess humidity and improperly installed exterior drainage systems, gutters, insulation and others.
In most cases, dampness in basements can be fixed by two solutions: adding (or repairing) gutters and downspouts or grading the soil to slope away from your home’s foundation. More extreme measures may also be necessary, such as waterproofing walls, adding exterior drain tiles, and/or installing a sump pump.
2. Assess space-related obstacles
There’s a reason why the word “basement” is synonymous with “dark, dingy, dungeon” for many people. In addition to issues like low ceiling height and concrete floors, things like exposed beams, ugly pipes and ductwork, and overbearing columns are eyesores without proper design.
On the other hand, mindful design can turn these obstacles into architectural features. For example, introducing a soffit or tray ceiling can transform unattractive ductwork into an attractive design element within a space.
3. Address mechanical considerations
Basements are the domain of hot water heaters, furnaces, water filtration systems, and other mechanical systems. These things aren’t just unpleasant to look at but can also interfere with floor plans. Unfortunately, moving them can be a significant ordeal because it also involves relocating ductwork, electrical wiring, and plumbing. In many instances, it’s easier and more economical to design around these systems.
However, it’s also important to consider the requirements of your remodeled space when planning your basement project. If you’re turning your unfinished basement into a living space, for example, you’ll need to make sure existing mechanical and electrical systems can accommodate increased use. While upgrading these systems may increase your budget, it may also be an opportunity to increase your home’s efficiency.
4. Embrace the fun factor
If your decision to undertake a basement remodel wasn’t formulated around a particular purpose, make sure to spend some time thinking about the many ways a finished basement can improve your quality of life in your home.
For many families, basements are where the fun happens—and the sky is truly the limit when it comes to entertainment options for your basement. Always wanted a pool table? Here’s your chance. In addition to more standard entertainment space elements like wet bar areas, home theaters, arcade games, and game tables, other possibilities include everything from spa-like saunas to golf simulators.
5. Welcome design freedom
Interior designers have many strategies for fostering cohesion and seamless flow between rooms. This includes repeating colors and color schemes, matching finishes, and sticking with a common design style. However, because basements are separate spaces, your remodel is a chance to “think outside the box” and try something new.
Always fantasized about 1920’s-esque speakeasy bar, rustic reclaimed wood “man-cave,” or tropical spa-style bathroom? A basement remodel is ideal for letting your imagination run wild without detracting from your home’s harmonious feel.
How to Update Your Basement So It Doesn’t Feel Like a Basement
A top priority of homeowners undertaking basement remodels is to create spaces that no longer feel like basements. This may sound like a tall order—a basement is a basement, after all. However, the reality is that there are many ways to make your basement feel warm, comfortable, and un-basement-like. These include the following:
- Lighting: Whether you’re dealing with a shortage of natural light or low ceilings, one solution is a go-to for many designers looking to improve the look and feel of basements. Layered lighting. A mindful combination of ambient, task, and accent lighting—including everything from track and recessed lighting to chandeliers—will cultivate an inviting and functional environment. Dimmable lights, meanwhile, support versatility within a space.
- Open Space: No one wants to spend time in a cramped, cluttered basement, which is why it’s important to allow enough negative space in the form of open spaces, long wall expanses, and ample storage for tucking things away. The result? A bigger, brighter, and more open feel.
- Color: Color is one of the easiest and most effective ways to breathe life and style into a space. Whether you go with calming neutral or bold bright, the colors you choose will directly inform how the room’s inhabitants feel. Want to make your basement feel bigger or the ceilings taller? Go with light colors. Looking to make a large or empty space feel more intimate? Darker colors have a grounding aesthetic.
- Flooring: Basements call for a strategic approach to flooring. While popular materials like hardwood may not work due to their incompatibility with moisture, basement flooring options like carpet, ceramic tile, and LVP can enhance both the form and functionality of your space.
- Furniture and decor: Basements are often the dumping ground for old and unwanted furniture and decor. However, if you want your basement to achieve non-basement-like status, these elements should not be relegated to afterthoughts. Rather, they should be front and center in the design process. In addition to lighting, beautiful furniture, mirrors, art, and accessories can all elevate your basement while moldings, trim, and window treatments can help your space feel polished and complete.
- Ceiling: In rustic and industrial designs, exposed a few rafters and some ductwork can be at home. However, if you’re going for a different vibe, addressing these issues can have a profound impact. Popular basement ceiling options include, natural wooden planks, tin and metal ceilings, decorative ceiling tiles, and even decorative ceiling tiles installed in a pattern.
Sawhill Kitchens Can Design Your Dream Minnesota Basement
While we may be best known for our industry-leading kitchen design services, we’re big believers in basement remodels at Sawhill—not just for the additional square footage they create, but also for their often untapped potential to become retreats that reflect on homeowners, their lifestyles, and their goals for their environments. And while there’s no denying that basement remodeling projects come with unique design obstacles, we are eager to reframe them as opportunities to help our clients make the most of their living spaces.
Whether you already landed on a concept for your basement renovation or you’re in the early stages of sourcing ideas and inspiration for a basement remodel project, our team has the knowledge, experience, and empathy to help you articulate your vision and bring it to life. We’ll also handle all the details throughout your basement project—such as communication between designer and project manager, working with our skilled trades, handling building permits, and more.
To get started on your basement remodel or to discuss another project in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas, contact us today.