If you’re of a certain age, when you think of a finished basement, you probably envision Wayne and Garth ensconced on a saggy sofa with hideous ’70s era wood paneling in the background. Or maybe when you think of finished basements, which are typically lacking in natural light, you automatically conjure up dark, man-cave spaces, designed for watching football rather than family time. Yet with the right design elements, you can create a space that works as well for family game night as it does a “guys’ night in.”
With four walls and a ceiling and floor already in place, finishing your cellar can be a cost-effective way of increasing living space. Maybe it’s different in bone-dry Arizona, but for those of us who live in New England, there is an unavoidable damp factor associated with basements. Solve the problem, for the most part, with a basement finishing system. Owens Corning’s is one of the best known.
These systems provide added insulation and are designed to withstand moisture far better than drywall. They also help with temperature control. But most, including Owens Corning’s, are designed for walls only, so you’ll still have to contend with a cement floor, and an unfinished ceiling with wires, pipes and ductwork running through it.
If your basement has never, ever flooded, wall-to-wall carpeting is a cozy option for flooring. If that’s not the case, consider a composite flooring material that looks like wood, and add area rugs.
Simply painting the ceiling, as has been done in the room above, adds an industrial vibe and saves some of your budget. So not your look? Drywall, or a drop ceiling, can be installed to hide the exposed elements. Drywall would also allow the installation of ceiling lighting: win-win.
In the photo above, the requisite support beams have been wrapped with bricks. Below, the prominent beams are wrapped in millwork. Both work well in disguising these necessary eyesores. In the photo below, the beams also create a sense of zones, perfect for delineating family space from the grown-ups’ zone.
With a full basement – one that spans the entire footprint of your home – you have a fair amount of space to play with. Not only is the “zone concept” a great way to make sense of support beams, it also allows you create cozy “rooms” within one big open room, as has been done in the photos above and below. While the finished basement above is decorated with rich wood tones and a saturated wall color, giving it an overall adult vibe, the one below is more neutral, which makes it as appealing for movie night with the kids as for enjoying a cocktail with friends.
In the photo below, the design elements are neither too childish nor too manly. This space also includes a laundry area, tucked off to one side behind a beautifully camouflaged support beam. Not only is this a brilliant use of zones, but being able to watch TV while folding laundry would make the tiresome task slightly less mundane.
Finishing Touches for Your Finished Basement
Finishing your basement is an investment. Maximize that investment by thinking about the added touches that are likely to make your family really spend time in it. That really big TV that you know would overwhelm your living room? Go for it. Always wanted to play bartender? Add a bar and you’ll finally have your chance.
Whether it’s to keep wine cold for the Chardonnay lovers in your life, or juice boxes at the ready for little loved ones on movie night, consider including some kind of refrigeration in your finished basement. Sub-Zero offers refrigeration elements to fit any space.
In the top photo above, a wine chiller and under-the-counter refrigerator are shown side by side. The bottom photo shows just a wine chiller. All have been customized so that they blend seamlessly with the surrounding cabinetry. Another option, one that can fit virtually anywhere, is refrigerated drawers. In the photo below, two are stacked together.
As the region’s real estate market continues to burn red hot, moving into a larger home might not be feasible. If your family desperately needs more space, don’t look for a new home. Look down!
Wayne and Garth grew up, and so too have finished basements.