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5 Ways to Elevate Your Basement Space

June 6th, 2023 | 5 min read

By Aaron King

finished basement bar remodeling project with stools TV seating area custom built michigan

Thinking of transforming your basement space into a beautiful abode but don’t know where to start? 

Upgrading your basement can seem like a daunting challenge, especially when it’s hard to imagine it as anything else but home to your water heater or extra storage. Even if you have already finished it, sometimes it’s not easy to know what to even do with all that space. 

While it might not look like much now, your space is a blank canvas for a variety of exciting possibilities.

As a home remodeler with 15+ years of experience redesigning homes to improve quality of life, we understand the importance of having your basement space built specifically to meet your aesthetic and family lifestyle.

After years of upgrading our clients’ basements, we have a thing or five to say about your design project goals.

In this article, you will learn more about the 5 ways to elevate your basement space, and which option works best for you:

1. Fill Your Basement with Natural Light

It’s no secret that most basements typically have little to no natural lighting. It’s hard to imagine a basement with any views of the outside world.

Here are a few solutions you can leverage to fill your space with natural light:

Install egress windows

An egress window is a large window that offers homeowners an escape route in case of an emergency. With two sweeping panels, an egress window opens up a massive amount of natural light into any basement.

It is also worth noting that egress windows might be required depending on your local municipality’s policies. If you want to learn more about Michigan egress window codes, take a look at The Great Egress Co.’s informative article

Add a walk-out entrance

Think of walk-out entrances as larger, walkable egress windows. Depending on the foundation of your home, you might be able to build one from your basement space. 

Positioned at your preferred exit, this solution will illuminate your basement, as well as feature a small patio space for additional entertainment options.

Speaking of walk-out, you’re going to need new flooring to go with all that extra light.

2. Choose the Right Basement Flooring

Whether you’re building a new bar area or setting up a home gym, choosing the right flooring varies according to what you’re looking for out of your below-ground fortress.

Carpet Tile

You might be wondering, “With how damp basements are, can I install carpet tiles and avoid mold?” You absolutely can.

Synthetic (man-made) carpet tiles are more breathable compared to natural carpet tiles, meaning they won’t retain much moisture from their surroundings. Once installed, carpet tiles are perfect for keeping coffee tables, entertainment centers, and other furniture in place.

On the flip side, carpet tiles can become matted and bunched in high-traffic areas, and don’t clean as easily with oil-based spills.

Luxury Vinyl Tile/Plank (LVT/LVP)

luxury vinyl tile plank installation for basement finish remodeling project custom built michigan

PC: The Spruce

Perhaps one of the most popular flooring options on the market is luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and luxury vinyl plank (LVP).

Durable, waterproof, and visually appealing, LVP/LVT features long-lasting material that can withstand moisture. This limits the chance of mildew, making it a reliable option for all basement spaces.

While high-quality LVP/LVT costs more to install, this flooring option will effectively fortify your basement space throughout the seasons. On average, you can expect to pay the following amounts according to vinyl quality:

  • Low Cost: $1.50 - $5.25/sq. ft.

  • Average Cost: $4.00 - $7.75/sq. ft.

  • High Cost: $7.25 - $12.00/sq. ft.

No matter which flooring you choose, we recommend pairing its aesthetics with purposeful decor that will make your basement space a true extension of your home.

3. Create a Cozy Basement Atmosphere

From summer to winter, it’s important to create a cozy atmosphere that people want to spend time in (think of it as your underground living room).

We’ve talked about natural light, now let’s review other ways you can upgrade your space:

Use light-colored paint

light colored paint in basement finish with stairs and windows custom built michigan

When it comes to elevating basements, light-colored paints are a great option. They can enhance the perception of your space and contribute to a brighter and more inviting room.

It might not be natural light, but light-colored paints can mimic the same bright appearance - which is important during the darker fall/winter months.

Incorporate greenery

biophilic design in basement finish with plants custom built michigan

PC: Capable Group

Incorporating a touch of greenery into your basement space can add a splash of earthy color, as well as generate more natural oxygen.

We recommend the following low-maintenance plants that require minimal sun exposure:

  • Ferns

  • Pothos

  • Ficuses

  • English ivy

  • Succulents

  • Bonsai trees

Use warm lighting

finished basement with pool table seating and cabinets custom built michigan

If you want to include more light but don’t have the time nor interest in installing an egress window or walk-out entrance, you can always look into additional light options.

From standing lamps to fixtures, artificial lighting is a great way to introduce more warmth and custom designs to your basement space.

4. Add Functional Storage to Your Basement Space

Basement spaces are often used for storage, but let’s walk through a few ways that you can take advantage of your storage space and make it visually appealing at the same time.

Install built-in shelving

With just a few slabs of high-quality stained wood, you’ve got yourself a wide range of shelving and storage solutions. Not only will you be able to store personal items such as trophies or books, but built-in shelving can fill out an otherwise blank and boring basement wall.

Incorporate under-stair storage

Tucked away from the action, under-stairs storage spaces are fantastic for keeping your items hidden from view, opening up more square footage to develop.

Here are a few ways you can upgrade your under-stair storage:

  • Pullout Drawers: One of the more popular options perfect for storing shoe racks and other supplies.

  • Open Shelving: Similar to our built-in shelving from earlier, installing a few boards of shelving underneath your stairs is a great way to incorporate and maximize your space with books, pictures, and memorabilia.

  • Hidden Pantry: If you don’t feel like committing to a more wood-based look or don’t have enough time for a personal project, you can always look into easy-to-build metal racks that can accommodate all those extra canned goods and dry ingredients.

You’ve decked out your basement space with mood-lifting designs and ample storage space, what should you put there?

5. Create Zones for Your Basement Space

We’ll let you in on a little secret that many homeowners forget: most basement spaces mirror your home’s square footage - without all the extra rooms/walls in the way. That’s quite a bit of real estate to work with.

Here are a few ways to take advantage of all that space and transform your basement into an underground palace:

Add a home theater area

With just a few armchairs, a sofa, and flat-screen TV, you can upgrade your basement space into a home theater with surround sound.

Want that true cinematic experience? Hang a projector and bring the true essence of Hollywood into your home.

For a comfortably immersive home theater, we recommend sectioning at least 300 square feet of your basement space.

Create a game room

Let the games begin! Got a few vintage arcade games sitting in the garage? Or just want a dedicated space for card games? Build out a game room for you and your family to enjoy on the weekends.

Game rooms are pretty flexible when it comes to required square footage. For all you pinball wizards and arcade enthusiasts, reserve at least 500 square feet or more to accommodate all your games.

Fun fact: most poker tables only take up around 8 square feet. So, if Vegas or Atlantic City is your preferred vibe, you have much more room to work with and segment.

Designate a workout area

Let’s be honest: sometimes driving to the gym is inconvenient. 

Fortunately, your basement can offer enough space for a fully developed home workout area. Just make sure to install the right flooring to keep your equipment steady and properly absorb sweat.

Next steps to elevating your basement space

Not knowing how or where to start with a basement upgrade can be frustrating.

Without the proper inspiration or guidance, you might end up with an underground nightmare or worse: no progress.

Fortunately, by taking time to brainstorm and research your design options, you won’t have to look at your empty (or filled) basement space and wonder what could’ve been.

We are happy to report that you have learned 5 exciting ways to transform your basement into a space you can be proud of and use.

Throughout our experience, we have been a part of many basement upgrades. At Custom Built, we understand the importance of knowing your design options going into a full overhaul, and which ones best mirror your vision.

remodeling finishing basement space services custom built michigan

To learn more about how to approach a basement finish, read the following articles:

Aaron King

Aaron has been in the building industry his entire life. He worked in his family’s housing business growing up in Dewitt, MI, and for nearly 40 years, built homes in the Mid-Michigan area. He has also worked with the Greater Lansing Home Builder’s Association since he was 18 years old.