Older houses, especially ranch homes from the 1950s and 1960s were often built with very large basements. Typically these homes have as much square footage above ground as they do underneath. However these basements were not finished as living spaces, and while vast, they typically don’t offer the same creature comforts as the spaces on the first floor and above.
Today many homeowners are interested in reclaiming these spaces for more than just storage and laundry facilities. But in order to make basements comfortable and liveable, some changes must be made. Read on for four tips to make the most of your basement.
- Address moisture. Depending on your climate, your basement might be more damp than the rest of your home. While these underground spaces might offer a cool respite during the hotter months of the year, they can also be a breeding ground for mold and spores when there is too much humidity and not enough ventilation. Consider investing in a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air.
- Add light. If you’re going to be using basement spaces as bedrooms, egress windows are a necessary safety requirement in many municipalities. But beyond that, egress windows are an excellent way to bring much-needed light to dark basement rooms. Consider planting some foliage in the window well or do a simple gravel fill.
- Warm it up. If you live in a cooler climate you’ll likely need an auxiliary heat source to make basement temps more comfortable. You can re-route ductwork if possible, add additional baseboard heaters or even install a pellet stove. Keep in mind that you’ll also be adding additional heat to your entire house as warm air will rise into the upper levels of your home. Another option for adding comfort to cold basement floors is to install heat webbing underneath tile in your basement bathroom. Often basement floors are quite chilly, so heating up the floors, especially in bathrooms and bedrooms, makes a huge impact on comfort.
- Embrace your ductwork. Often basements are full of visible pipes and ductwork. While it’s possible to cover these elements with a drop ceiling, this makes it difficult to access these areas when a repair is needed. One solution is to paint your exposed pipes and ductwork the same color as your basement ceiling. This will allow these elements to blend visually into the background while also preserving headroom.