I've got 5 tips if you're looking to create a great finished basement that your family will use and enjoy often. We recently finished just such a project, so I thought I'd give you a quick list while it's fresh in my mind. In a previous post, I showed you a room we worked on on the first floor of this home and mentioned that we created a place that really made the man of the house happy. This is it!
Here's a Before shot of most of the room we worked on:
The above photo shows you that the room already had a lot going for it: the homeowners had installed nice hardwood floors, there's a beautiful stone fireplace and this is a daylight basement. Just look at all those windows! Ok, your basement might not have such great bones to begin with, but the following tips can make any finished basement a great one.
Here's the After shot:
The homeowner's wanted to have a pub-like atmosphere with a family friendly vibe. We ran with that request.
Tip #1 - a great finished basement pays attention to the windows.
The windows on the fireplace wall let in a LOT of light, making it difficult to enjoy watching the game during daylight hours. We added woven blinds, covering the transoms (don't gasp, there's still plenty of light), so now TV viewing is more comfortable. The lower panes on the side windows exposed a not-so-great view of gardening supplies. We added antique stained glass windows--actually hanging those windows in the windows! This adds a colorful, pub-like design detail and completely takes the attention away from the immediate view outside.
There's another wall of windows in this room that didn't need blinds, so we added custom drapery panels to frame the lake view. The way we treated all the windows in this basement definitely set the tone that this is an important room in this house. Which leads me to Tip #2:
Tip #2 - a great finished basement has a realistic budget.
This post talks about creating a GREAT finished basement, not a basic basement that your teenagers will head to only because it's far away from your eyes and ears. That doesn't mean you need a huge budget, but this is an investment project, and worth spending some money on. A GREAT finished basement is enjoyed by all ages and for all occasions. It's not where you throw your old furniture. You can incorporate these tips as your budget allows--they're all worth the wait. Just don't wait too long!
Tip #3 - a great finished basement needs a pretty ceiling.
Many basement ceilings are pretty ugly with acoustic tiles and/or dated light fixtures. Every decision you make when finishing a basement should remember that you want this room to look great. That means it's an important room and needs nice finishes. In this basement, we already had a smooth sheet rock ceiling and recessed can lighting. Adding wood beams made a big difference to the overall feeling of the space. I really do believe that line about the ceiling being the 5th wall. Faux beams are easy to install (by an installer/handyman) and add architectural detail. A note - because the span of each beam was very long, we added straps to cover the seams.
And we painted the ceiling a light beige, just to warm it up next to the beams. Btw, did you notice that we painted all the moldings in the room a gorgeous, rich brown? There's a lot of dark brown, black and gray in the room. Putting those colors in a room is a way of bringing the outdoors in, creates depth and adds warmth.
Tip #4 - a great finished basement has the right lighting for a variety of activities.
Although the room already had recessed can lighting, the cans weren't in the right places to be useful for specific tasks. We had them moved so the room is now lighter, brighter and there are no dark corners. Yes, the ceilings had to be repaired after that. Look back at Tip #2 which talks about having a realistic budget for greatness.
My photos don't show a section of the room where the kitchen lies. All we did there was to add a antiqued mirrored backsplash. This added sparkle and great reflection of light from the windows across the room. I love light, don't you? We want to see what we're doing!
Tip #5 - a great finished basement has zones for activities.
It's not going to be a great space if the only thing you can do in the room is watch games on TV. That might be okay to some, but it's limiting. Creating zones in the room means that all kinds of fun stuff can be happening at the very same time! This basement has a shuffle board table, a U-shaped sectional from my friends at Bassett Furniture, a bar at the Kitchen counter for setting up snacks or sitting with friends and this cozy corner, shown above, for playing games. There's also a drop zone for storage, let me find a picture of that for you:
This awesome custom cabinetry means there's a place for everything--storage is always an important element to consider in a room used by lots of people. We want to know where to look for the monopoly game, boat gear and puzzles!
Where I live in North Carolina, there aren't a ton of basements. People who have them are super lucky. In the Northeast there are LOTS of them. I grew up in a house that had one and, for it's time, it was a great one. Much smaller than this one, but we had a fireplace, a pool table, a bar with a fridge and a place for the record player. This project may be on a grander scale, but the purpose and use are exactly the same. Make your basement comfortable and inviting for all ages. Don't skimp on those finishes and details. Make it a great finished basement and reap the rewards of good times with family and friends.