Basement Rec Room Ideas

A basement rec room is the ideal space for entertaining family and friends. Discover your personal style with these tips for making the space your own.

Basement Pool Table

Basement Pool Table

By: Caroline Shannon-Karasik

While a rec room is, naturally, designed as an area to have fun, it can also be a space that sports a particular style.

Start by deciding on a layout for your rec room. Assess your basement space so you can use it to its fullest potential, and think about how furniture will be arranged in order to make guests comfortable. You may also want to decide on a theme for the rec room. Perhaps, you want it to look like an old-style billiards room or maybe it will simply be a place for your weekly family game nights. Those elements are important to deciding the style of your rec room.

A Kid-Friendly Basement Full of Games

Fun and Games

Brothers Reyn (left) and Felix (right) have plenty of space to play thanks to mom Justine's practical approach to basement decorating.

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Soft Seating Area

To keep the 1950s charm original to her family's split level ranch house, visual merchandiser and stylist Justine Rubin left its tongue-and-groove wood paneled walls as-is, then decorated the room with colorful, kid-friendly furnishings. Sons Felix and Reyn are encouraged to create and craft in the space since it's packed with low-maintenance, easy-to-clean pieces.

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Paint it Yourself

Rather than furnishing the lounge area of the basement with a coffee table fit for adults, a kid-friendly parsons table was chosen. For an ever-evolving look, sons Felix and Reyn are allowed to paint directly onto the table, giving it a colorful, abstract and unstructured touch.

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Faux Cow Hide Rug

The lounge area is delineated from the rest of the basement with a super durable faux cow hide rug. Since the overall color scheme of the space is always evolving, the graphic black and white pattern of the rug is certain to coordinate as the palette changes.

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

DIY Lemonade Stand

Always eager to upcycle, Justine gave new life to old wooden shipping pallets by turning them into a lemonade stand. After collecting discarded pallets and scrap wood, the stand was constructed by cutting wood to size with a saw, then fastening each piece together using 3- inch wood screws and a drill.

Open Storage

To keep storage both stylish and simple, Felix and Reyn store all of their toys in totes and baskets made from woven recycled plastics and canvas.

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Oversized Floor Cushions

Felix and Reyn, like most active kids, spend a lot of time playing on the floor. To keep them comfy, Justine added vintage, bohemian patchwork floor cushions. Since they're constructed with zippers, the cushions can be thrown in the wash in the event of a spill.

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Tree Trunk Seating

For sturdy occasional seating, Justine and her sons added paint to discarded tree trunk scraps leftover by a tree cutting service. In addition to the stools being the perfect height and width for little ones to play on, the stools can also serve double duty as pint-sized occasional tables.

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Ever-Growing Art Wall

On a daily basis, both Felix and Reyn can be found drawing and painting in the basement. As their collection continues to grow, Justine encourages the boys to display their artwork on the entry wall, turning it into an ever-growing kids' gallery.

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

No-Commitment Art Display

To easily put up and take down their artwork, Justine supplies the boys with blue painter's tape which, in addition to being easy to use, won't damage the finish of the wood paneled walls.

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Boyish Bunting

Justine, Felix and Reyn also make their own bunting from paper and thread.

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Two Different Zones

The basement is divided into two different zones: the left side which is dedicated to crafting, drawing and music, and the right side which is for lounging and reading.

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Hardy Outdoor Furniture

With markers, paint brushes and crayons used on a daily basis, Felix and Reyn's crafting station is made up of indoor-outdoor furniture. Easy to wipe and sturdy enough to handle active boys and their occasional roughhousing, the area is outfitted with chairs made of woven resin, molded plastic and welded steel, along with a wood-slat-and-aluminum table.

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Playful Indoor Outdoor Rug

For a soft underfoot surface which withstands messy little shoes, the craft space is grounded by an easy-to-clean polypropylene rug. To keep the rug clean, it's simply taken outside and rinsed with a garden hose as needed.

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Retro Lighting

After dark, the craft area stays lit with an original flush mount light fixture original to the 1950s house. TIP: Anytime original fixtures are left in older basements, it's best to invest in having the wiring updated by a professional electrician. This will prolong the life of the lighting while also ensuring safety.

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Dad's Drum Set

To encourage an appreciation for music, dad Robin's drum set is kept in the basement for his sons to practice on. Anytime a jam session starts, Felix and Reyn are encouraged to join in.

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

DIY Hat Rack

Justine created a modern tree-shaped hat rack from basic Southern pine lumber and stainless steel hardware. In addition to functioning as open storage for hats and jackets, it serves double duty as costume display.

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Vinyl ABC

Almost any surface in the basement is fair game for displaying creativity. To help Reyn learn his ABCs, basic vinyl letters from the hardware store are stuck to the windows.

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Painted Fireplace Update

To modernize the dated fireplace original to the 1950s-era house, Justine updated it with charcoal paint in a flat finish. For an even application, she used a roller made for rough surfaces. This cuts down on the number of coats needed since the nap of the roller ensures proper coverage.

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Practical Accents

To style the mantel practically, Justine uses recycled glass milk bottles as vessels, filling them with grasses gathered from the yard.

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

If you have a large family and plan on the room serving a multi-use purpose, then decide how the room should be divided. Maybe there is a small fitness area for some members of the family, and an arts and crafts space for those who enjoy quieter activities.

Consider also adding warmth to the space by installing a rug or carpet, and adding a lighting design that will highlight specific areas throughout the rec room, like the pool table area or playroom for kids. Be sure to also take proper measurements for all furniture and appliances that will be added to the room — it's no fun when you purchase a piece only to find out it won't fit through the door!

Family-Friendly Game Room Ideas

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