Can we talk basements?

21 January 2010

Comments are most definitely OPEN. I need to know your experience with basements.
What do you love about yours?
What do you wish you had done?
Any cool features you have, have seen in others, or wish you had done?
Warnings or things to watch out for?
Money saving tips?
We're having some contractors come by this weekend that have given us quotes and we want to get more specific with what we want.
We're paying cash, so when it's gone, it's gone. We want to know exactly what we're getting into so we don't spend too much and then realize we're out of money and oh...we don't have a door and the blowing snow is flying in :)

We want to have 2 bedrooms, a storage room, play room, family room, bathroom, and a small office. Right now, it looks like this:

and we're going to have to move that bathroom unfortunately. I will be hanging out in the comments on and off today...I would love to hear from you~


  1. We divided our basement into: 1 office, 2 storage rooms, 1 half bath, one playroom and one workshop. I wish we had added a shower to the bathroom so that the office could be a real bedroom in the future. I also wish we had not divided it up into so many rooms.

    Keep the windows in the room you will use the most. We had three windows and one ended up in a storage room which was a complete waste of light.

    When they drill into the concrete for your new bathroom, make sure you shut all of the vents and cover them and the bottom of the basement door with towels. The dust is incredible!

    If you find a great way to use the space under the steps I'd like to see one! Ours is open and I hope to install shelving in there this year and turn it into my paint and stain storage area.

    Plan your storage room carefully. We did not and I feel the space could be better organized. It's on my to do list.

    Lighting- put a lot in!

    Good luck!

  2. Ann~thank you! I'll have to remember the dust tip! Under the stairs will be part of the storage room, so I'm not sure how we'll use it yet. The back wall is the only one that has windows, so we're thinking bedrooms there.

  3. Two things:

    1. MOLD/MILDEW RESISTANT SHEETROCK! I know you are on the East coast, I don't know where, but I live in Georgia and will be renovating my basement this year in my 1960's ranch and this is a must. It costs a little bit more, but basements tend to be damp places! It's treated with stuff that inhibits the growth of the yucky stuff.

    2. Stained concrete. Don't put down carpet or even laminate. Basements are damp places and stampled and stained concrete looks amazing and you can add some area rugs.

    I love your blog and can't wait to see what you come up with!

  4. Oh, my basement is a bathroom, big storage room, bedroom, 2 big closets and a big living area. It hasn't been renovated since the early 70's. All I have done so far is remove the green shag carpet and strip the wall paper!

  5. We have a large room that has two purposes, media area (two couches, flat screen) on one side and on the other side of the room is our homeschool area (4 book cases and huge table with 6 chairs). We also have a full bathroom and a guest room down there with a large closet that stores all of our craft supplies. We have used that extra bedroom and bathroom a lot! Sleepovers, quiet time, real alsmot doubles the square footage of our house so we all feel like we have room to spread out. Still funny though that we frequently all end up on the same room. Have fun with your project!

  6. We bought our home with the basement already finished. But, we have a STAGE. (It's little.)How cool is that? All the neighbors want to come and play at our house and it encourages our little one to be creative.

    Another thing I love about our basement is that it's not too divided. Lots of open space.

  7. I am with Lindy. I don't personally have a basement, but a friend of mine did. Her basement was always "damp" feeling. She had a lovely house, so I don't know what caused that, but I often wondered if that dampness would seep through to her upper level. Mold is so dangerous.

  8. I have to disagree with Lindy. Those floors get cold and can be quite painful for little ones to fall on. We used those 24x24 carpet squares and have had no problem with mold or mildew. We do run a dehumidifier constantly.

  9. hi
    We just finished ours last year.
    Email me, I'd love to "chat" I do have lots of opinions...
    one is..
    tile for high traffic areas, and carpet (the GOOD plushy stuff) for the rest.. your kids won't feel like they want to "hang out" and curl up on the floor otherwise.
    We are in Kentucky and get RAIN ALL THE TIME! Plus it is very humid in the summer.. the carpet has not been a problem.

  10. 1) Paint light colors so it won't seem dark and dreary.
    2) Sheetrock dust is unbelievable! We finished ours ourselves in two sections and sealed off 1 side with plastic while the other side was being finished.
    3) Is there adequate water proofing? We lived in our house for years with no water problem in the basement and then we had a rainy season and had water seep into our basement. Due to this, our carpet and padding was ruined. In hindsight we should have waterproofed outside before finishing the basement AND I wish we had either painted the concrete floor or put tile down so that water could be mopped up.
    4) When you move the bathroom if they jackhammer concrete up make sure they do not leave any dirt openings. Our plumber left a dirt opening under the tub and we had water seep up trough this opening. Sealing it off with concrete took care of the problem.

    Good luck! :) You should visit the Painted House at http://thepaintedhouse.blogspot.comand look at her basement remodel for ideas. I love it!

    Hope this helps!

  11. I Love love love the look of an open pianted ceiling! I mean, no dry wall or drop ceiling. Just painted! Over the wires, pipes everything! See if you can search the internet for ideas. We have a drop ceiling in ours, but I would LOVE to tear it out to have a more modern feel. Plus it seems a little more open and spacious! Our friends did it in theirs and I am soooo jealous!

  12. Too bad you have to move the bathroom, especially if the lines are there. That's probably a good part of your budget right there. When I had a basement and we finished it, we sectioned it off with small office, laundry room area and tool bench/mechanicals, keeping the largest area possible for a family room/den type of thing. We had a pool table, sectional, projection TV and a corner bar. This was a ranch style house so this space was much appreciated. It worked out really well for us and now that we are looking to down-size, I wouldn't mind looking to a ranch again.

  13. Such good tips...keep them coming!
    Love the idea of a stage~my kids love putting on plays! Hmmm..

    Julie, my traditional mind is having a hard time picturing an open basement ceiling? Any pics or links you can send me??

    We'll double check on mold resistant sheetrock and make sure everything outside is set to channel water away...
    Who ever knew plumbers left dirt openings?? :)

    We'll probably do a combo of carpet and waterproof fake wood (same as we did in our last home~loved it)

  14. Kathy~we don't have to move the bathroom far, so they quoted an additional $600, which I think will be well worth it for the better use of space...unless we can come up with a brilliant way to make it work!

  15. I agree with Melissa. I live in Kentucky also and the constant rain hasn't caused any dampness issues in our basement. We have carpet and tile, and I totally agree that having carpet helps it to feel more like a living space we all want to be in. Our basement tends to be very cold, so the carpet is a must for us! Also lighting, lighting, lighting!! The areas of our basement that get natural light and are well lit are the only ones anyone wants to hang out in. I wish I could figure out a better way to add more lighting to our "dark side". Good luck. I can't wait to see what you end up doing!

  16. We doubled our living space when we finished our basement. Included a bedroom/bathroom suite. Two large storage areas that hold EVERYTHING. Shelving all around the storage rooms. Plus, under my stairs is enclosed with a door and I store all my Christmas decor including the tree under there. We stained our concrete floors and love them. Very cost effective and I disagree about them being cold. The basement stays a constant temperature and the floors are warm. I live in Missouri and we have had our fair share of freezing temps this year already, and the basement stays warmer than the upstairs. We do have a thick, large area rug in the family room space. We put insulation around all the outside walls before putting up the sheetrock and also insulated the inside bedroom walls for sound proofing. We have a family room, pool table area and workout equipment all in an open space of the basement and still have plenty of room for a table and chairs set and bar.

  17. My basement growing up had a very thin carpet with no pad underneath and it was always cold and hard so I really want to do some plush, warm carpet...

  18. Gerry~I think insulation is a key factor for warmth downstairs...there are lots of shelves down there from the previous owner's workshop, so we'll probably try to move most into the storage room and make them fit my plethera of plastic bins and totes :)

  19. I love that our basement has storage closets. That is where all the toys go and one doubles as our food pantry. They are huge and don't look like they were difficult to put in. I recommend a drop ceiling in case of water damage or electrical repair needed on either your main floor or your basement. Just easier and cheaper to get into if there is a problem. We also have one room that isn't finished at all. It's nice to have for indoor paint projects in the winter and it has a nice big laundry sink in it. Love it!

  20. My dream is for all the toys to be out of the bedrooms and downstairs, which would mean I would want a big fat storage closet for toys. We've got to work that one in somewhere...

  21. My basement was already finished for me. I like that the put in tile. I know you want warmth- but you could always do a throw rug. I did have some moisture problems but once I bought a dehumidifier I haven't had any more problems!

    If they keep the poles in like they had to do in mine try to find a pretty way to incorporate mine. I would be curious to see what you do since I want to make mine look better.

    I would also recommend lots of lighting. I wish mine had more. I think recessed lighting would be nice.

    I have painted a light color to keep things bright.

    I am excited to see what you do b/c I am always looking for more ideas.

  22. I would sound proof the ceiling. I really wish we had done that. It's different than insulating it.

  23. Emily~How do you soundproof..should I just ask about it?

  24. We finished our basement and there are quite a few things we'd do different. We have an office, a living/play room, two bedrooms, a furnace/storage room, a full bathroom and a sink/laundry room (where the bathroom consists of the toilet and shower and the sinks are in a open room with the washer and dryer).

    We put in hardwood (fake hardwood? pergo? something along those lines but i can't remember what it was) floors with the really good non-echo padding and then plush rugs for the living room part of it and carpet with good padding in the kids rooms.

    One thing I really want more of is GOOD lights. My kids don't like the downstairs because it's so "dungeon" feeling (we have one window for the whole living part of the basement and one in each bedroom and one in the bathroom area). If you don't have a lot of natural light coming in make sure you make up for it with good lighting, and enough of it so it doesn't feel dungeon like.

    Make sure you have a lot of electrical outlets/phone jacks/tv jacks put in too. Nothing like not having enough plugs to go around. We doubled what our contractor suggested, and we are VERY happy with that choice.

    Spend the money on things that you WILL need and are difficult or impossible to add in after everything is all said and done. Good insultation (we don't have a problem with dampness), outlets and tv/phone jacks, lights, etc. The rest can be fixed, changed, replaced if you decide to later.

    I know that there is more, but that's it off the top of my head.

  25. Oh, someone just mentioned the poles. We had our contrator build square pillars out of sheet rock around ours and put baseboards around the bottom just like the walls. If they are running electrical lines throughout, I would recommend putting in outlets/plugins in those while they are at it. It's the one thing we didn't do and regret that. It would have been nice to be able to have lamps in the family room space in the center of the room.

  26. I would just like a basement. ;) Even unfinished, with remnant carpets. I'm tired of all the toys in my house. :s This sounds like a great project!

  27. We always had a basement growing up. My parents still do. I wish I had one now. Unfortunately this house doesn't. My husband works in the restoration business and we have learned quite a bit from other people's disasters (unfortunately) that will help us when we do have one. Aside from asthetics - it is MOST important that you have a sump pump AND a backup. Since basements have a tendancy to hold moisture (and can sometimes flood) taking care of precautions should be your #1 priority. Also, I personally wouldn't put down flooring. I would paint the concrete to like tile and then use area rugs to provide the warmth needed under foot. If it ever did flood, wood and laminate flooring would be destroyed and tile could pop up. Carpet would possibly have to be replaced as well. So, that's personally what I would do. It would also be MUCH more economical. :0)

    Good luck to you!

  28. I just wanted to say (others may have made the same comments) you WILL NOT REGRET it if you spend the extra time/money to blast a few more holes in the extreior walls and put in more windows. most of your windows are under the deck, but you've got GREAT above ground exposure. it will feel much less UN-basementy if you put in some big windows--and focus on any Southern exposure that you have. Then, situate the rooms you'll spend the most time in there--with any South facing window light. good luck!

  29. I've had them "finished to the nines" and just bare concrete. Either way, I don't like them and I won't spend time down there unless I have to. There's not enough finishing in the world to make me change my mind. I don't like having a whole house on top of me. I just never have. Which makes the 2400 square feet I have down in my basement waiting to be finished into a beautiful space useless to me. Ugh. :( Wish I could just get over it and "get" what other people like about being down under...

  30. Melissa,
    We finished all but 2 rooms when we built our house. (I know why not finish the two rooms at the same time??!!) Well we are just finishing the last 2 rooms and so I have some ideas for you. First we made our office into an office/craft room. The desk and bookcase is on one side and we bought craft cabinets that you put together yourself and formica countertops at Lowes for the craft side. Their is plenty of room for my sewing, scrapbooking, stitching projects. The upper cabinets even came with interchangable cabinet/hanging rod on the bottom of the cabinet. We replaced the rod with a 7/8 dowel to put all my ribbon spools on! It is not a big room-doesn't even qualify as a bedroom--no window, but it is great. We also put a clear glass door on that room so that I can see out while I am crafting and we can see what is going on when someone is on the computer. Love your new house. I understand about taking the blogging down a notch...I had a blog and I got completely addicted to looking at the comments and thinking up things to blog about. Please don't are wonderful!! Are you going to tell us where you moved to? Take care and good luck!!

  31. love your basement! it's so large and open and looks like the ceilings are nice and high. ours has a storage room, finished office and we're VERY slowly working on finishing the rest. we'll have a laundry/utility room/pantry and the rest of the space will be a big family room. our basement is much smaller than yours so a bathroom and bedrooms are totally impossible (although we've thought of putting a toilet in the laundry room. i've seen it done before and i'm not totally convinced, but i guess it could work). the problem that i have is the ceilings. my husband and dad (who will be helping) think we shouldn't close off the ceiling because it would restrict access to the wiring and such, but i just want to throw dry wall up there and worry about the stuff underneath when we need to. they want to do some sort of drop ceiling that doesn't drop down too low since the ceilings are already only about 6' high or so. whatev. i'm only 5'2" so it doesn't bother me! ;)
    anyway, i can't wait to see what you do with it! and i love your blog!!

  32. We just have a small basement...a laundry room was already down there. My basement doesn't feel damp, but sometimes gets cold in the is all finished nicely with drywall and carpet. I think built-ins made a huge difference in the way it looks. I think you have to UP the finishing touches with basements...frames on the wall, really nice light colors, plenty of white trim...goes a long ways in making it look less basementy.
    Since our basement is just an extra family room, I honestly wish we would have just turned it into a hockey rink for all the boy to burn off steam in our long winters. But don't tell my husband I said that.

  33. This is actually great for me, because we are going to finish our basement sometime, so I really enjoy reading all the comments and tips. :) It's much smaller, so we'll definitely try to keep it more open. And I can't wait to see what you decided to do! Heber knows a guy who will do all the work for free, we just need to buy all the supplies! Isn't that great?! Too bad you don't live in Kansas! He could totally hook you guys up!

  34. I don't think I will say anything others haven't, but here's my 2 cents.
    We did our basement about 4 years ago. According to the original homeowner there had never been any water leakage, but my husband is a pretty cautious guy and wanted to put down tile just in case. He is not only cautious, but right, because we had a rogue hurricane come close by and it leaked. Not where you would have thought though, our window was where is had leaked. (If the windows aren't newish, repllace them!) So we ruined an area rug and a dust ruffle. That was it. As much as plush carpeting would be great down there, it is risky. About a year after that, our waterheater broke and flooded the basement and again, we were thankful for the tile. Do invest in a dehumidifier. We only run ours every once in a while, but it is worth it's weight in gold (and it weighs a lot)!
    Half of our basement is a long livingroom. We have a sofa, chair, TV, my sewing corner and lots of nice shelving from IKEA for book and toy storage. We have a small guest room that doesn't have a door between it and the living area part of the basement. Because of where the duct work is located, a door would have just gotten in the way. Then beside that we have a full bath. It is really nice to have since there is just one on the other floor of our house. Not having a door on the guest room part made it work well because when we have more than one guest, they can still get to the bathroom without feeling as much like they are entering someone else's space. The other 1/3 of the space is storage/ laundry area. We'd love to finish the laundry area, but it is on the "one day" list.
    Now here's the things we wish we had done. 1) added more outlets. 2) added recessed lights everywhere and installed a dimmer in case they were too bright. we didn't want an overload of bright light, but we were wrong.
    3)Outlets, outlets and more outlets!
    4)More insulation, would be good.
    5) soundproofing the ceiling seems like a great idea! It sounds like elephants are walking around upstairs!
    ok nap time is over at our house!

  35. Sorry but I had to tell you about some other things in our basement. It is 1632 sq. ft. and is didvided into a very long family room, guest room, bathroom, office/craft room, workout room, furnace/water heater/food storage room. We have a big walk in closet in the office that goes clear under the stairs. This is where we keep the totes of clothes, holidays and the 2 christmas trees. We have some storage areas in the food storage room also. For our toy room we actually made it out of a big closet with built in shelves on one wall for the toys. This way as the children get older you can convert it to just storage space. Another thing we did in our remodel is put in a sm. kitchenette. It is like a closet cut into the wall but houses upper and lower cabinets, sm. fridge,microwave,and toaster oven. It is only about 4x5. The total cost was around $1500 and this was with custom cabinets and a granite countertop. We had leftover travertine for the flooring and my brother and husband installed it. This is great for having parties with the kids friends and if we host parties at our home. Just and idea. We also recarpeted and put 8# pad and the best carpet!! It is worth it! We also put and in-wall space heater to keep the basement warmer. Good luck!

  36. The first house we had with a basement was dimly lit and very creepy, even though it was considered partly finished. I made my Hubby go down there to do the laundry, so I wouldn't get the heebie-jeebies!

    Our newest house has a wonderful finished basement. It's not big, but it has a playroom, office/craft studio room, storage room, and....a big closet that we use for extra toy storage! And the kids aren't allowed in it. This is awesome. I rotate my kids' toys every week so 1) they don't get bored & 2) they don't pull every single toy out & then whine when it's time to clean up! LOVE this! I also love that this basement has a drywalled ceiling (not ceiling panels) and recessed lights, which really brightens things up!!
    Hope this helps!

  37. I think it is risky to put carpet in a basement. I love a nice tile floor with inexpensive rugs for when 'weather' happens. Maybe you should do a heated tile floor instead of carpet? Either way, finishing a basement is really expensive but such a good investment. Good luck in your renovations!

  38. I live in Utah and with our cold winters we put a gas fireplace in our basement family room. We have neighbors that didn't want the expense and now don't use their basement in the winter because it's cold. We used canned lighting wired to dimmer switches for our family room so we could have lots of light and could still dim for movies. We took our plans to a lighting store and had them help us pick fixtures for each room to make sure we had lots of light. If you decide to do carpet, it is worth it to upgrade to the heavier pad to make it more comfy over the cement. We also trimmed out the windows so they would look nice without adding curtains, so we did not block any of the outside light.

  39. Hi Melissa,
    I have been noticing in basement reno's pictures that the window well drywall is dropped a foot below the actual window bottom. So the ledge you would normally have at the bottom is lower making the window look bigger when blinds are hung. A neat idea. Or window treatmest can even be hung at the bottom of the window giving the illusion of a bigger one. Meg Crossley had a wonderful basemtn redo in Canadian House and Home, a bit of it can be found on the blog by her at the site. But its not the same as the magazine layout. It was beautiful and just your style.

  40. We have a partial basement and about two years ago my husband put in a small studio for me, not using the entire space, he framed the area, built the walls out of white wash paneling. and put in faux white wainscoting as the ceiling with new and improved bright covered fluorescent globe lighting. The wainscoting he just nailed to the beams. The wainscoting is tongue and groove and covers all the wires, and ugly things up there!

    We spent a bit of money and had the carpeting installed. It's a high end berber, with a thick pad, and a VAPOR BARRIER underneath. We live in upstate NY where it's wet all year long, except maybe in July and August, maybe! If there is dampness, you'd never know. Dehumidifier runs and we have a ceramic space heater. Stays very comfortable. I stand a bit for my art work and projects and my feet and back are oh so comfy! A lot more comfortable than our ceramic tile in the kitchen where I can stand all day, somedays!

    Hope some of this helps. Good luck! I only have a 16X20 space and I feel like I have a huge house with this additional room! Our home is a small ranch, 1500 sq ft - 500 of it was the garage which is now a family room!!! We've maxed every square inch of this place!!!

    Oh one more thing - definitely keep it light colors! I'm surrounded by white, no windows and I feel very happy down in my "studio"!!!

    All my best,

  41. Working on our finishing touches on our 6 year project. We have a family room, game room, and bedroom downstairs. My husband wanted the walls in the game room a dark color. I didn't want it to look too much like a cave so we did a dark blue on the lower half, gray on the top and ceiling and a dark brown chair rail and trim. Lots of lighting on dimmers so we can make it as dark or light was we want it. I am so happy with the results.
    Check it out, I have more pictures of the completed room with it all put together let me know if you are interested and I'll get more to you.

  42. Well, we've never finished a basement for real, but I have a couple of thoughts. On HGTV Holmes on Homes is a total stickler for doing it the "right way" and he always does some kind of extra vapor/moisture barrier between the walls and floors. And Investment Property (?) is all about renovating basements for rental units, and he always, always puts in laminate flooring. They're both in Canada, so wetness is definitely a possibility. Just thought you might want to ask about the moisture barrier.
    I know this would add $$, but I've always wanted the under floor radiant heating. That would be a dream in a basement!
    Also, from the picture, I think your basement is a walkout, right? Even so, and especially if it's not, please make sure whoever is in the basement can get out if neccessary....egress windows or something.

  43. I remember from the photos of your house that your "basement" is actually the lower level of your house that's built on a hillside. So I suggest that you stop thinking of it as a basement and think of it as a "terrace level." Doesn't that sound good?

    I would suggest that you consider having another window added to your wall. The thing that makes basements seem very basementy is the lack of light. If you haven't already gotten a quote for this, I think you should at least ask. And of course you'll need to put the bedrooms there with the windows so you'll have egress. (By the way, do you have a security system? If so, basement windows are a really good place to put stickers.)

    As for the other parts of the basement, one thing we've done is to take advantage of the dark. Our big basement room is our "home theatre room." It's a great place for watching movies. We actually do have a projector and screen, but even if you just have a TV and DVD player, the darkness can be an asset.

    One thing I do love in my basement is the flooring. The carpeting is soft and fluffy, but best of all it's multi-colored so that it doesn't show dirt. Does that sound awful? Multi-colored? It's actually very nice.

    My other tip is to think long and hard about going ahead and having things done while the workers are there. If you think you're going to want something, do what you can to go ahead and have the professional parts done all at the same time. You can always finish DIY things off later, but whatever you've got to hire done--go ahead and do it while you're doing it!

    When are you going to begin construction? It sounds like an exciting project. Messy, of course, but exciting.

  44. Gosh, Melissa, I'm talking too much. But one more thing. . . .

    I love the fact that our downstairs family room opens out from the stairwell--you don't walk down into a hallway, you walk right into that room. That way it seems much more like part of the house. Then there are small hallways opening off that main room leading to the other rooms. I love those little hallways--they're lined with closets. And that way the bedroom that's downstairs doesn't open onto the family room.

    Why don't you come to Durham and you can hang out with me and see my "terrace level" for yourself? Not that my basement is worth a trip. . . but I sure would love to visit with you!


  45. We built a basement suite for my parents when we moved in 10 years ago. Now it is just space for us and guests. Many great things already mentioned, but I'll add my list of most important things NOT to skimp on:

    WINDOWS~make sure there are appropriately sized escape windows in the bedrooms, it is code around here. If you can take the time and money to make them larger now, you will never regret it. In my opinion, nothing beats natural light. We have tons in the bedroom but not nearly enough with the one small window in the living area. If your basement is a walk-out you might also consider french doors.

    DRYNESS~Make sure it is dry before you do any work or you could be throwing money away.

    STORAGE~There is such a thing as too much storage. I skimped on the tv area to make a much larger storage area, too large really, and now that all the walls and heating vents have been moved, it would be a huge undertaking to change it all. has some great basement shelving ideas, built ins etc.

    LIGHT SWITCHES~ This is not too expensive an addition, but we added dual light switches closer to the stairs (a triple) that can turn off the tv area/kitchen area/hall area from that one location so if the kids leave the lights on we don't have to wander through the whole basement switching off individual lights. No walking in the dark either.

    DEHUMIDIFIER~ I agree that it is worth it's weight in gold, keeps everything feeling warmer, especially in the humid weather. We do not have a problem with dampness or odour and the dehumid. is a big part of that. We don't need to run it often, but it works so well.

    CENTRAL VAC: If you have a central vac, make sure the outlet for the basement is somewhat centrally located. The installer put ours too close to one end of the basement and our hose/head can barely reach the far corners of the back bedroom.

    Finally, I'm good with floorplans, getting the feel for size and all, but if you really want to 'see' the layout, get some painters tape and lay out the 'walls' (approx. room measurements of the plan) on the floor before you finalize plans. Take care of the biggies first. You can always save a bit of money by adding trim a bit later yourselves, or whatever you can handle. Good luck and have fun enjoying all that new space.

  46. Adding: I just read about insulation. My bil used a product called Safe And Sound insulation. We don't have a problem with noise from above and when the boys play their real drums, it is rarely heard on other floors.

  47. I live in TX so basements don't exist here. As far as a cosmetic tip goes though, I have seen some beautiful things people do when staining cement. It may be cold to your feet and not help much to warm things up, but it would probably be safer than carpet.

  48. Just a quick mention -- we are in the process of buying a house and the one we are looking at is currently under construction. A good friend told us to check with the builder about the kind of drywall they use and find out where it is manufactured. Apparently there have been many problems with drywall coming from China -- people getting sick from exposure to the toxic chemicals, lead etc. used in manufacturing. We are going to look into that further. Just a heads up on something to consider.

  49. Such good comments. I have a drywall finished ceiling in my basement and it looks great-but is impractical for any additional work that may need to be done. I have seen an unfinished ceiling--the whole thing was sprayed white--wires, beams, everything. I thought it looked great--very urban, loft feeling--kind of industrial. I liked it. Also, the white added to the lighting effect with some reflection.

  50. (1) Do not hire the cheapest contractor. We did and regret it to this day even thought most of what they did was fine.
    (2) Get a super carpet pad to go under the carpet. Our basement pad and carpet are much more durable and a better grade than the upstairs. We got a berber which hides a lot of dirt (inevitible that it is tracked in) and the extra padding cushion makes it super comfy.
    (3) We added a de-humidifier to our whold house unit because otherwise the basement was always damp feeling. I live in Alabama and while we do have our share of rain it isn't constant, yet the dampness was. Once we waterproofed outside and got the de-humidifier it was all great.
    (4) Storage, storage, storage. We had a closet door put on the under-stairs space and that holds my husband golf equipment perfectly. In my largest closet (which is for crafts, decorations, etc.) I had floor to ceiling wood shelves installed. They are wonderful.
    (5) Lots and lots of light.
    (6) Originally we had vinyl flooring in the bathroom but that didn't stand up to the abuse so we recently had it tiled and love it.
    (7) We also have a fireplace in our basement (gas) that helps to warm the basement up in the winter without having to run the heat a lot. It is in the largest room downstairs that we use as a den.

  51. We just moved from the south to the north and we had our basement finished. It is really large and we still have unfinished space for storage. We had it stubbed out for a bathroom that we can add later. We just have our workout equiptment and our old great room furniture is down there. My husband is going to make it into a 'mancave' next year. Good luck!

  52. We finished ours a few years ago and loved it until we moved. We lived in Utah and put the thickest carpet padding we could get and loved how soft and warm it was. We had a big family/theater room when you walked down the stairs and it was great for entertaining! The play room was behind the Family room. We put 2 door on the play room - one from the hall and one from the family room. It worked out wonderful because we could shut the door on the playroom when we wanted, and we could open it when we wanted the kids to be able to play, but we were in the family room. It was great to be able to still see them, but not have all of the toys in the family room. We also had a bedroom behind the playroom. We made a secret passage between the bedroom(craft room) closet and the playroom closet. The girls had so much fun sneaking from one room to the next! It also had an office, bathroom and storage room. We loved it and I miss it a lot! Good Luck and thanks for all of your amazing ideas!

  53. I am so glad you did this post. We are getting ready to finish the basement in the nonprofit house we run. I know nothing about basements but am so excited about getting to finish one!

    I wish you well with yours!

  54. My inlaws had a terrible mold problem in there basement. I would ask about preventing water damage and mold. Can't hurt to get the contractors $0.02 on that issue.

  55. These are all great..we're madly taking notes and have lots of questions now to ask when we meet with the contractors. I had never even heard of a vapor barrier!! My head is a spinnin' with ideas, thanks to y'all. Thank you and keep them coming :)

  56. If I were you, I'd aim for having that bath moved to the area right at the bottom of the stairs if possible. Add the storage room next to that stretching across to the left of your sliding glass doors. This will leave more room open to your family room which will be based in the middle. Then I would swap the layout from upstairs, having the bed rooms toward the back with the bigger windows. Then you can have the office on the other side adding a window on the side of the house or just not having one at all if you need too. This will save money in the short run and still give you the space you need. Good luck, we did ours and did it all ourselves. It was a lot of work but we learned so much about plumbing, electrical and drywall, I'd hire out the drywall if I had to do it again. Plan to have your air ducts cleaned after all the work is done also, a small cost to pay to avoid all the dust that will be floating around a year later!

  57. That's exactly what our basement looked like when we moved in this summer. WE are almost done and I can't wait. WE have 2 bedrooms at the back and a storage room and bathroom. The main living area is a long rectangle. The part near the bedrooms is the TV part and the back part near the stairs is the toy/kid part. We did carpet in the TV area into the bedrooms, but put laminate wood floors in the kid area because I have 3 little boys. I am so tired of bouncing balls, racing hot wheel cars and scooters in my kitchen, so now they can do all that stuff downstairs. They can't wait to play down there!! Good Luck

  58. Hi Melissa!

    We redid our basement about 2 years ago. We LOVE it now! Some favorite things we did were:

    *put in a fireplace with a thermostat. Before it was SO cold down there. Now it is toasty warm!

    *put in a washer/dryer hookup. We have a large closet, we put an extra freezer and a stackable washer/dryer combo. Now my 13 year old daughter does her own laundry down there.

    *Got stock cabinets and made a built in entertainment center for a big screen tv. And we wired it for a screen-projected system, in case we ever want to do that. We also wired all of the surround sound -- so nice for movies!

    *Put in a huge storage closet with tons of shelves made for a certain size plastic bins. I love having all of the bins lined up and labeled. It's where I keep all of my seasonal decorations.

    Good luck! I am so glad to have a basement. Especially after living in California for so long with hardly any space. Can't wait to see what you do!


  59. I totally agree with the soundproofing! It's annoying that anyone walking normally upstairs sounds like an elephant in the basement!! I wish we had added MORE lighting, oh how I wish that!! Advantage to drop ceiling is that your ceiling won't be torn up if there is a problem with electrical or plumbing. If you want cable/satellite in the basement. Make sure you figure out the best place for it. We didn't and I regret having it installed in the wall it is on now. Plan for outlet placement too. Good luck!

  60. I totally agree that you should keep in mind what you might want 10 years from now - so often we plan for today and forget what it might be like in just a few years.

    2 things we have had to work around in our basement - hot water heater leaked and our new carpet was soaked. After fixing the hot water heater we had a carpet cleaner come and he cleaned (and soaked up the extra water) and then had us run fans for a few days - cleaned up fine.
    Also we needed more lighting - love the idea of canned lighting.

    We also used barndoor sliding doors for dividing some living spaces - they are great at allowing you to open up spaces when you want it more open

  61. You have a great space that you can utilize in your basement. Ours is terrible and we use it mostly for storage.

    You can definitely have a great storage nook with shelves built in under the stairs. It would look great and be a help with organizing.

    Think ahead with your plans. Make the plan work for you in the future as well as for now. This is a big project and you won't want to repeat it.

    Consider what kind of flooring you would like. Does your basement get damp? You wouldn't want carpet there if it did. I think deciding what kind of ceiling is important because you many need access to wires and pipes for the other floors.

    There is so much to consider. I hope this helps. It may all have been said already.


  62. The one thing that I have a hard time with our basement is that it is super cold! Make sure that you have the right kind of insulation. You won't regret it!

  63. Hi Melissa! Finishing the basement was our first priority when we moved into our house!
    1)Because the upstairs is completely hardwoods, carpet was a MUST in our basement. I wanted it to feel warm and cozy.
    2)Due to budgetary constraints, we did not finish our ceiling. We painted it out in flat black paint, kind of what they do in industrial style restaurants.
    3)To save money we installed metal clamp lights between the rafters, they function as recessed lighting.
    4)My absolute favorite feature of the basement is our home theater. For $100,my husband built a 4'x8' screen for our movie projector.
    5)We also repurposed a nook for home office space
    6)And most recently installed electric logs into a fireplace opening. It serves to quickly take the chill off a cool basement. Oh yeah, we also have baseboard heating that can be turned off and on as needed.
    Sorry, to be lengthy. But our basement is by far one of my favorite spaces in the house.
    Good luck with your space!

  64. My husband finished out basement over two years so we had much time to think & plan. He framed, ran electrical wire, plumbed the bathroom and we subbed the drywall, tile in bathroom and bar area and had an electrician connect all the wires.
    1) I second a lot of light. ( I think we had almost 40 can lights).
    2) Our basement was WARM. We put in tons of insulation and had very plush frieze carpet. The kids would have sleepovers and everyone slept on the floor. You could get a plush carpet cut and bound with a pad for an area rug.
    3) We never had moisture problems. Have a sump pump with a battery back-up. The pump only ran when we had days of rain, but it's good insurance to have the back-up. We also hooked up the dehumidifier with the hose dumping into the sump pump so we didn't have to empty it. We only turned it on depending on need.

    4) Try to finish it as nice as your budget will allow. We sold our house to the first person that looked last year and they said the basement sold it. Great extra square footage for less money. If you think you will add features later, plan for that now (kitchen cabinets/sink fridge for bar area can be roughed in for electric/plumbing even if you don't decide to put it in immediately. Also good for resell. Take pictures of area and label before boxing in with drwall. Cheaper than adding later.)
    5) Our county had a great packet with information on finishing basements with applicable codes. The inspectors were very helpful.

  65. Have them waterproof your basement! When I bought my 1989 house in 2002, the basement was already finished and had been used as a home office. They did not have it waterproofed, and major water damage resulted. We had to tear apart the finished basement, spend about 20K to have it waterproofed, and then we refinished it. THAT SUCKED. FYI- what they did to waterproof it was jackhammer the perimeter of the room and lay a trench under newly poured concrete.

  66. You definitely want to consider the windows that will be in your bedrooms. Our basement has two bedrooms. But only one of them can be listed as a bedroom for resell purposes, because only one of them has an egress window. I guess if the window doesn't allow for escape, you can't call the room a bedroom. (And I suppose you shouldn't be letting people sleep there....)

  67. You are so lucky to have a basement. Look at all that space! We don't have basements in Australia :(

  68. I don't know how far you are into your basement remodel but I wanted to add my 2 cents. Get a really good carpet. We did our basement 3 years ago. My daughter was 6 months old. I picked a very good stain resistant carpet with little spots (to hide crumbs, play dough) as well as a really good carpet pad. Its the best money I have ever spent. Every mess/ stain wipes away with water like a dream and believe me we have had many a paint, icing, juice etc. spills. We live in the Midwest so cold winters and the upgraded pad makes it a soft cozy place to play. We really enjoy the space. I hope you will to. Lanelle


Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note!