Converting a Basement into a Rental Unit

Supplement your income by turning your unused basement space into a rental unit.
Bedroom with Wood Trimmed Wall

Bedroom with Wood Trimmed Wall

By: Caroline Shannon-Karasik

If you are one of the many people who have an unused basement space, then you may want to consider converting it into a basement rental unit. Not only will the space be put to good use, but it will also provide a source of supplemental income.

Basement Remodels: Before and After

See All Photos

Before

Retired decorator Ruth Shacter set out to have her 1960 basement updated as a guest retreat. Since her late husband, Jack, put so much effort into building the modern space, Ruth was excited to breathe new life into it with the same style they loved so much.

After

In order to make it bright and welcoming, Ruth painted the space dove gray, then added high-energy contrast with accents of red. A collection of Asian prints, purchased by the couple while living in Japan in the 1950s, hangs in her remodeled basement living room.

Office Desk On Display

Since Ruth's late husband was attached to his hardy 1950s oak desk, she was adamant about keeping it in the space after the remodel. To give it a modern update, she had it sanded, primed and then sprayed with high-gloss charcoal lacquer. In order to keep the area well-lit, a junction box was added and a custom drum pendant was hung with the bottom 38 inches above the desktop.

Gray, Red and Retro

The guest bedroom features a pair of Regency-style twin beds belonging to the couple. Set against a dove-gray backdrop, the beds topped with Chinese chinoiserie pillows truly pop.

Before

When Julie Bitton and Tom Price bought their three-story townhouse, the basement was one of the first rooms to overhaul. The walls were painted a putty tone, the millwork and trim were painted glossy black, and the floor was covered with beige wall-to-wall carpet that seemed dated and dull.

After

In its new state, Julie and Tom's basement is much lighter and more energetic. They integrated color through the paint and wallpaper choices, selecting a shade of dove gray called First Snowfall from Benjamin Moore for the walls. By using the back of the sofa as a room divider, they created another area for seating for four around a table.

Lounge-Worthy

Upon entering the theater-style viewing room, guests are welcomed by the peninsula-shaped sofa, bright tones of the wall and trim, and energetic pops of orange.

TV Station

Julie and Tom decided to save more money by sticking with Julie's 42-inch flat-panel TV. Julie thought the walls behind the custom built-ins seemed bare, so she chose a geometric wallpaper in dark brown and silver to pick up on the dark tones of the floor.

Before

When Brian Patrick Flynn bought his 1955, three-story ranch, the basement’s bonus room was dark and cramped. The dated carpet and stippled effect ceiling created a disconnect from the home's overall mid-century modern vibe.

After

From the ceiling down to the floor, every detail of the room was changed to create Brian's dream design studio. To keep the rest of the home's silver and dark brown palette present in the space, the designer chose dark wood kitchen cabinetry outfitted as workspace storage.

Cozy Closet Niche

A reach-in closet was transformed into an upholstered sleeping nook that can be used by guests.

Before

In its existing state, the basement was covered in wall-to-wall carpet, had poor lighting and was used as a place for things that seemed to accumulate over time.

After

Josh Landers and Josh Williams embarked on a basement remodel to create a space where they could work from home several days a week while tending to their puppy, Bentley. Changes included using only dog-friendly, durable and easy-to-clean materials, from the vinyl plank flooring and vinyl crocodile wallcovering to steel furniture and custom draperies made from indoor/outdoor fabric.

Photo By: Photographer: Christina Wedge

Smart Storage

To keep the den clutter-free, Landers and Williams use a modern 1960s console to house all of Bentley's needs as well as their own office supplies. Atop the console sits a pair of modern lamps that light the corner, and on the wall is an old pet supply storefront sign that was picked up at an antique market.

Photo By: Photographer: Christina Wedge

A Porch for the Pooch

One of the biggest issues with the porch in its existing state was the unattractive air-conditioning unit. . To keep the air-conditioning unit hidden from view, the contractor created a hanging partition. The floor of the covered porch was updated with a roll of faux turf.

Photo By: Photographer: Christina Wedge

Before

When Michelle Workman first moved into her Lafayette, Calif., home, she was determined to overhaul its dated game room into a sophisticated, serene, Hollywood-inspired design studio.

After

Determined to save costs and stick with a short timeline of three weeks, Michelle decided to keep the built-ins that were previously used as game room storage. By placing her writing desk in front of the wall, she can look out into the backyard while working. "I didn't want to sit at my desk all day and stare at the wall. It was important to be able to look outside from my chair," the designer explains. "Floating the desk in front of the storage wall was the perfect solution."

Inspiration Corner

Michelle gave a corner of her design studio a defined purpose as an area for sourcing ideas and fabrics. When she comes across something inspiring in a magazine, she simply tears a page out, then tacks it up on the screen behind her.

Custom Pieces

To take full advantage of an 8-foot wall to the left of her design studio's entrance, Michelle designed a custom banquette where she can read design books. In keeping with her signature glamorous style, she chose a glossy, glazed linen for the upholstery with super shiny chrome nail head detail.

Before

When Alison Deyette first purchased her 1960 midcentury-modern house in Sherman Oaks, Calif., she found it difficult to imagine the ground-floor storage space could be transformed into a glamorous, storage-packed dressing room closet.

After

In two weeks the ground-floor storage room became a custom dressing room closet and stylist's studio, plus a space for overnight guests.

Work Station

Tucked snugly beside the entry door, Alison’s sewing station can be completely partitioned off during fittings by grape-toned satin draperies.

Before deciding to rent out your basement space, look into any legal issues within your state and county that may affect your ability to rent the space. Health and safety issues, like radon or mold infestation, are also issues that should be addressed before listing your basement as a rental unit.

When you are given the go ahead to convert your basement into a rental unit, there are a few aesthetics that should be addressed. Make sure the basement area is finished and livable. This means providing the proper flooring, lighting and adequate bathroom space. A kitchenette, washer and dryer may also be worthy additions.

If you decide to list the unit as a furnished space, then you will need to provide a bed, television, dresser, floor lamp and other common items.

Before seeking tenants, decide what level of maintenance you expect from a potential renter and communicate that in your advertisements and during conversations.

Tips for Remodeling a Rental

See All Videos
Keep Reading

Next Up

Design a Basement Apartment

Whether you're looking for extra income or need a place for aging parents to live, here are tips for flipping your basement into a comfortable living, dining and sleeping space.

No More Space? Steal These Square Footage-Stretching Tips From 'Love It or List It'

'Love It or List It' contractor Eric Eremita goes behind a renovation that added space above and below.

Basement Home Theaters and Media Rooms

Why go out to the movies when you can bring the entertainment to you? Check out these ideas for creating a basement home theater or media room.

Finished Basements Add Space and Home Value

A finished basement not only adds extra square footage to enjoy, it boosts the resale value.

Types of Basement Finishing Systems

Basement finishing systems allow you to finish a basement in about two weeks. Learn whether they might work for your home.

Maximum Home Value Storage Projects: Basement

Your basement is packed with design potential. Here's how to turn it into truly useful—and valuable—space.

Remodeling a Rental Unit in the City

After buying a building in Brooklyn, Tom Bencivengo turns a rental unit into an open, inviting one-bedroom apartment with smart storage solutions.

Basement Rec Room From HGTV Smart Home 2014

The basement rec room is a perfect escape to let loose, with a projector screen for movie nights, a stage to jam out and a workout space to blow off steam.

Adding a Basement Kitchen

Create a welcome space for guests staying the night or an additional area for everyday needs by designing a basement kitchen.

Cork Flooring In Basements

Cork floors are a durable and easy-to-maintain option for basement flooring. Find out how this natural material can work to enhance the appearance of your home.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.