14 Smart Design Ideas for Underused Basements
Bring your basement to life.
Basements are probably one of the trickiest spots to design. They’re often sprawling, oddly shaped and limited in scope, so it’s easy to feel stuck when you’re trying to think through the design of your space. But once you set aside the limitations, you can easily turn your basement into a functional spot the whole family can enjoy.
I’ve rounded up 14 of my favorite basement design ideas to get your wheels turning as you think about your own space.
1: Chic Screening Room
Eric Perry, 2014, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved
If your living room isn’t quite big enough to fit the whole family on movie nights, turn your basement into a screening room. Choose a large, comfy sectional sofa and a large TV or movie screen. Consider adding a small refrigerator to hold drinks and snacks or even a small popcorn maker.
2: Swanky Supper Club
For a more luxe space, design your basement to look like a swanky supper club. A large booth or banquette can fit all of your friends and family at special meals. It would also work great for cocktail parties or wine-tasting parties. You can pair it with a special bar area or a small wine refrigerator.
3: Creative Space
Whatever your creative pursuits might be, your basement could work as a space for you to make art, start a new hobby or set up your crafting space. Creative spaces can look a bit rawer, so cement floors, wall murals or exposed beams would all look great in a space like that.
4: Modern Music Studio
Tony Soluri Photography
If music is your passion, an at-home basement studio could be a perfect match. You’ll want to make sure that both your walls and floors are properly covered for the best sound, and that the wiring and electrical panel can handle this setup.
5: Multipurpose Family Space
Spacious Basement With Industrial Ceiling
You don’t necessarily need to choose one theme for your basement area. Instead, create an open, multipurpose space for the whole family. Include a playhouse for the kids, a bar area for the adults and a couch for everyone to gather.
6: Game Room
Pinball Arcade Stars in Basement Project
This party-ready room features a well-lit line of vintage pinball machines, not your average basement. Slick industrial tile floors in purple add to the room's fun, retro aesthetic.
©Finished Basement Company
If you love old arcade games, set up your basement as an at-home game room. And if you don’t want to splurge on vintage arcade games, you could alternatively set up a large screen for a video game system.
7: Luxe Home Gym
Fully Equipped Home Gym in Modern Basement
The home gym, which is separated from the rest of the basement by a glass wall with a glass barn door, is equipped with anything a workout guru might need. From a place to store yoga mats to a weight rack to a rock climbing wall, this state of the art space is perfect for exercise.
Jon Eady Photography
While many of us keep exercise equipment in the basement, you could take things to the next level by creating a luxe home gym. If you love yoga, set up a mini yoga studio. If you love spinning, attach a large mirror to the wall in front of your spinning bike. Or if you have the space and budget, you could build out a full gym in your basement, so you never have to leave for a workout.
8: Kitchen + Wine Cellar
Pineapple House Interior Design
If food and wine are your passions, create a space that honors your two loves. It’s often difficult and costly to rearrange an existing kitchen; however, the blank slate of a basement might allow you to create your dream kitchen and wine cellar. You’ll need to confirm that plumbing, electricity and gas are available in your basement before tackling a project like this.
9: '50s Diner
Sometimes it’s fun to go all in on a theme, and this '50s diner-themed basement is a fun project to try. An old vinyl booth, vintage jukebox and colorful art help bring this basement to life.
10: Colorful Playroom
Basement Playroom Features Toy Storage & Play Table
Designer Claire Paquin created a space in the basement of her client's home that could function for young children, as well as space for adults. For the play area, carpet tiles create visual interest, color and warmth for kids to play on the floor. A bookcase cubby is a wonderful choice for toys and games.
If the kids are out of space upstairs, the basement might make the perfect spot to set up a playroom. Playrooms are fairly inexpensive to put together and can often feature just a few important pieces: a bookshelf to store books and toys, a table and chairs and a comfy spot on the floor to play.
11: Industrial Pool Room
Industrial Basement Hangout With Pool Table
Exposed concrete walls give this basement hangout an industrial vibe. The space is made more inviting with a pool table, large black and white portraits and a white couch with bold lettered throw pillows.
If you don’t have the budget to do any renovating but you’d like to create a fun space in your basement, opt for something like this industrial pool room. Use a pool table or ping-pong table as a centerpiece, and pair it with a simple sofa. Leave the rest of the space raw to help create a more industrial feel to your basement.
12: Hidden Office
If you need some office space, a hidden desk solution might work well for you. This office was created using IKEA Pax wardrobes. When you’re working, you can open the doors, and when you’re not, it simply looks like a closet.
13: Kids' Art Space
Stylish Kids Art Studio
Designer Justine Sterling transformed a low-ceiling basement space in a 1920s Colonial to create a studio. It’s a walkout basement with two windows providing decent light, but it was very ugly with exposed pipes, a horrible acoustic tile ceiling and old sticky vinyl flooring. At roughly 450 square feet, there was a good amount of space to create a project room for the children. The room is now a lively children's workspace.
Jessica Delaney Photography
If you want a dedicated art space for your kids, build them a basement art studio. Mounted curtain rods work great to display your kids' art, and a big table works as a space for them to create.
14: Plush Guest Bedroom
Contemporary Country Bedroom
A beautiful, velvet teal headboard with tufting brings a touch of glamour to this country cottage bedroom. Mismatched bedding gives the room an eclectic feel. A simple wooden stool serves as a nightstand.
If you need some extra space for guests, set up a beautiful guest room suite in your basement. Include some special touches like high-thread-count bedding, fluffy towels and a bedside light to really make your guests feel at home.
Unused Space Gets an Update
To add plenty of space for their growing family, an Atlanta couple underwent a massive remodel turning the previously unused basement into the heart of the home. While the drywall, ceiling detail and electrical were completely updated with a polished look, the concrete floors were simply stained and sealed for an industrial touch.
Reclaimed Room Divider
A room divider with integrated open and concealed storage was constructed from reclaimed barn wood. In addition to housing toys, books, photo albums and supplies, the room divider also splits the basement into two distinctly different areas: one area for homework and activities, and another to lounge and watch movies.
Open Storage Room Divider
Basements heavily used by kids are certain to receive their fair share of toys, books and stuffed animals strewn along every surface. Homeowners Amy and David Winter added open storage throughout their entire basement, starting with open shelving along the bottom of its room divider. Properly proportioned to house books in common sizes, the shelves are also deep enough to accommodate crates and baskets for all three childrens' toys and books.
Concealed Room Divider Storage
Concealed storage was also added to the room divider with hinged door fronts. Made from the same reclaimed lumber as the rest of the structure, the doors close, keeping anything which may otherwise become visual clutter hidden from view. The Winters ensured child-friendliness to the room divider by having its doors installed on slow closing hinges.
Due to a lack of natural light, most basements feel cavernous and unwelcoming. David and Amy brought ample natural light to their newly remodeled basement with three sets of paned windows installed along its main exterior wall. This keeps the lounge area light and bright during the day, enticing the family to spend more time in it.
After the hefty expense of the remodel, the Winters decided to stick with a timeless color palette they could mix up without any major expense. Overall, the basement is made up of warm grays and a cool shade of white. To keep the space from feeling matchy-matchy, a variety of gray tones including greige, charcoal and brown gray were used on the concrete stain, sofa upholstery, pillows and window seat upholstery.
A common problem homeowners face with basements is making sense of high-sitting windows. In most cases, these windows appear close to the ceiling from inside, although they're actually level with the ground outside. The Winters decided to add reading space for six by having the walls below each trio of windows built out as reading nooks accessed with small step ladders. The lack of steps below each nook allows furniture to be placed up against the wall, making the most use of all available square footage.
An excellent way to save on a major basement remodel is to simply work any existing concrete floor surfaces into its updated design. While new wood floors throughout the space could have totaled $8K to $12K, the concrete was only a fraction of the cost. To protect the finish, all furniture legs are outfitted with plastic and felt protectors.
Porcelain Wood-Look Flooring
A major problem homeowners face with basements is flooding. For this reason, wood floors are not always the best option as they’re easily damaged by water. An excellent alternative is porcelain wood-look tile which looks and feels like wood, but with the durability of tile.
The activity area of the basement was designed for the Winter kids (Ellie, Kate and Henry) to work on creative projects and display their school work. Every surface is hardy and easy to clean, from the science lab table, stackable steel bistro chairs and a reclaimed factory storage unit. The charcoal wall is made of foam, allowing art work to be pinned without damaging drywall.