14 Smart Design Ideas for Underused Basements

Bring your basement to life.

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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

Basement Media Room

Basement Media Room

Back-to-back couches and a console divide this large room into two spaces, while orange accent pillows break up the gray hues. For the ultimate theater room experience, a large projector screen can be retracted from the ceiling.

Photo by: Eric Perry ©2014, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

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

Contemporary Blue Basement Dining Area

Contemporary Blue Basement Dining Area

Banquette seating wraps around a round wood table in this colorful contemporary basement dining room. Bright blocks of color in silver frames pop a against a pale blue wall accented by a blue ceiling lamp.

From: Molly Kann-Carey

Photo by: Molly Kann-Carey

Molly Kann-Carey

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

Music Studio in Basement

Music Studio in Basement

In the basement, a sound proofed music studio was added for the family's budding musician. Sound proof panels were already in place, so designers revamped the area with a bright couch, new carpet, and profession style cabinets to make the space complete.

Photo by: Tony Soluri Photography

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

Spacious Basement With Industrial Ceiling

A large couch with colorful pillows and blankets separates the game room and bar from the living room area in this newly finished basement. Pressboard and tin construct a fun and rugged playhouse for the kids in the corner.

From: Cousins Undercover

Photo by: Chris Amaral

Chris Amaral

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

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.

Photo by: ©Finished Basement Company

©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

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.

Photo by: Jon Eady Photography

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

Sleek, Chic Kitchen Makes Most of Basement

Sleek, Chic Kitchen Makes Most of Basement

This chic basement kitchen has easy access to a built-in wine cellar via frameless glass doors.

Photo by: Pineapple House Interior Design

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

Fun Basement With Diner Decor

Fun Basement With Diner Decor

This fun basement was designed to resemble an old-fashioned diner, with a red booth and chairs, white table with jukebox and napkin holders, a checkered floor and colorful antique signs on the wall.

From: Nancy Leffler Mikulich

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

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.

Photo by: Claire Paquin

Claire Paquin

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

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.

and Rehab Addict

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

Basement Home Office with Built-In Desk

Basement Home Office with Built-In Desk

This contemporary basement home office features a pair of wardrobes for storage, as well as a small desk.

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

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.

Photo by: Jessica Delaney Photography

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

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.

Photo by: Jane Beiles

Jane Beiles

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.

Rustic and Refined: Unfinished Basement Overhaul

See All Photos

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.

Charging Station

As smart phones and tablets grow increasingly popular with kids and parents, it's wise to integrate charging stations into common areas. To keep gadgets within arm's reach and ensure they're properly charged, an outlet was integrated into the reclaimed wood room divider.

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.

Lounge Area

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.

Neutral Grays

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.

Reading Nooks

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.

Nook Upholstery

Constructed with zippers along their backs, each reading nook's cushion cover can be removed, then professionally cleaned in the event of any mishaps.

Nook Outlets

Since books are quickly being replaced by tablets and laptops, each of the three reading nooks is equipped with its own wall outlet. This is especially helpful when the kids tackle their homework for hours on end.

Ceiling Detail

Rather than lowering the ceiling below any plumbing or electrical, it was built in two levels resulting in a coffered look. This is helpful in spaces with low ceilings, especially basements, because it helps create the illusion of having slightly more space.

Shag and Concrete

A combination of shag and concrete floor surfaces was used to add both durability and comfort to the basement. For a subtle tone-on-tone approach, the Winters chose a shag rug slightly lighter in tone than the charcoal stain of the polished concrete.

Polished Concrete

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.

Home Office

Overall, the main purpose of the 700-square-foot basement is for family time; however, dad David also needed his own home office. To delineate his work space from the lounge and activity zones, it was outfitted with clear glass French doors which allow the natural light to flow through.

Mini Kitchen

Movie nights are big at the Winter home. To keep the family stocked up on drinks, snacks and popcorn, a mini kitchen was added just outside of David's home office.

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.

Activity Area

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.

Industrial Storage

The overall farmhouse look is added to the basement though small industrial touches. Here, reclaimed factory storage powdered coated in a shade of barn red keeps all of the kids' art supplies neatly tucked away.

Metal Tabletop

Since all three kids work with crayons and markers on a daily basis, the tabletop surface of the activity area needed to be durable and easy to clean. Amy and David chose a science lab table with a hardy oak base and a metal-wrapped top.

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