13 Ways to Lighten and Brighten Your Basement

From colorful pops of art to clever use of glass doors, here are designer tricks for keeping a basement light and bright.

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Lighter and Brighter

Keeping light in mind, this Atlanta basement was remodeled with a plethora of windows, interior and exterior glass doors, light colors and reflective surfaces.

Bold Ceiling Pattern

Since basements are secondary spaces isolated from the rest of a home, they're excellent fits for experimenting with bright colors. A great way to add high energy to an otherwise darkly lit basement is to paint a colorful pattern on its ceiling. In this playful basement, painter's tape was used to mark off a fractured stripe pattern painted white and tangerine.

Colorful Art

Looking to add a colorful touch to your basement without any commitment or major expense? Simply frame graphic art to break up white or neutral walls. Since graphic art is clean and simple, it can be appreciated by children as much as adults.

Glass Interior Doors

To help bounce light into a basement, consider replacing solid interior doors with glass-front interior doors. This will allow any natural light from adjacent spaces with windows to flood otherwise dim spaces with a boost of indirect sunlight.

High Sitting Interior Windows

A common problem homeowners face with basements is a lack of exterior wall space for installing windows. Large windows aren't usually a possibility since many basement walls sit below ground. Take advantage of any above-ground exterior surface by installing high-sitting windows just below the basement ceiling. Here, a trio of high-sitting windows serve double duty as raised reading nooks.

Paned Glass Entry

Basements with direct access to the outdoors are excellent fits for paned exterior entry doors. Before its renovation, this Atlanta basement was dark and dingy due to a single solid wood door. By reframing the entry and installing a door flanked by two fixed paned windows, a plethora of natural light keeps the space illuminated.

Recessed Can Lights

When space is at a premium in a basement, it's wise to take advantage of ceiling surface for housing overhead lighting. Here, recessed can lights were added along all areas of the basement ceiling to keep it brightly lit after dark.

Roman Shades

When glass interior doors are used in basements, covering them with drapery panels can be tricky as the panels are likely to get caught in the door jamb. Instead, consider door-mounted Roman shades. Operated with a simple cord, the shades can be fully raised to the top of the glass, allowing all available light into the basement.

Sconce Lighting

Take advantage of any wall space by adding sconce lighting. In addition to freeing up floor and table surfaces, wall-mounted fixtures can also add drama and ambience.

Sculptural Lighting

In addition to illuminating the space, sculptural lighting can double as art. In this midcentury modern basement, a striking starburst fixture made of smoked chrome beautifully reflects light during the day, and after dark, its modern globe bulbs keep the area brightly lit.

White Architectural Ceiling

Architects and designers often use flat white paint on ceilings to help bounce light throughout rooms. This is an excellent option for basements since any extra pop of light reflection can make a huge difference.

White Wood Plank Ceiling

Do you have an old basement complete with a dated ceiling treatment like popcorn or a stippled effect? Instead of a messy ceiling demolition, consider installing white wood plank directly over the ceiling material. This will keep a basement ceiling looking light and bright as well as clean and classic, without any major expense.

Bead Board Ceiling

8-foot-by-4-foot sheets of bead board are an excellent way to update walls and ceilings in basements with dated surfaces. Bead board is relatively simple to install as it simply requires being cut to size with a table saw, then installed to walls and ceilings with liquid bonding adhesive and nails. To keep this basement bright, Southern yellow pine bead board was installed, then painted white.

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