Bring Out the Best in Basements

August 25, 2010 § 1 Comment

Basements are often dark and dingy or cluttered and chaotic. Find out how to brighten up that space and make it look livable.

Basements can adopt a split personality. On the one hand, it’s a sweet storage space with minimal decor and a high tolerance for accumulating dust. Yet when it’s time to sell — especially in a competitive real estate market — or expand the home’s livable square footage, the basement needs a little dressing up. That’s when home owners and real estate pros can work together.

One approach is to think big and transform this below-ground level into higher-end living space, whether that’s a family room, children’s play area, or guest bedroom. I have seen people take a basement and turn it into a family room, put in nice carpeting, and even build a little room around the utilities, hanging pictures … anything that looks pretty.

It might encourage a sale. Yet it might not up the asking pricey. Many times a basement is not included in a home’s total square footage of livable space. The square-foot value is not as high as the second or third floors. Don’t put in the fanciest bathroom you can, because you might not get your money back. You might have trouble selling the house for what you think it will sell for.

Still, buyers want more room for the asking price, and a basement provides that option.

Sometimes if a buyer needs extra space, and that’s the only space that’s available, that’s attractive. Photographers gravitate towards homes with sizeable basements simply because they make great darkrooms and studios. Musicians can use extra space for studios.

But for basements that need just a little decorating rescue, there’s a lot of hope.

Make the basement a place that you want to go to. So often basements are associated with low-quality, cheap hung ceilings, wood paneling, and inexpensive carpet on the floor. Treat it no differently than you would the first floor of your house.

Home owners should start by upgrading the basement’s entryway and gradually work their way through the space, with the end goal a lighter, brighter, and cleaner basement. If it’s down a dark, narrow stairwell, open up that stairwell or — at the very least — install brighter lighting.

But if the end goal isn’t more square footage but simply a cleaner basement, there are many inexpensive approaches to consider, starting with a broom and dustpan.

The best thing you can do is clean it up. Get rid of the cobwebs. Whitewash the walls. Do whatever you can to make sure it has a good smell.
Eliminate moisture Installing a dehumidifier should help.

Bad Basement


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