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HomeHomes
Published: Thursday, 5/11/2006

Basements Are No Longer Utilitarian

In the past, basements were relegated to storage areas, the workshop or laundry room, but by investing in a little remodeling, families are discovering that basements can be as useful as any other room in the house. Family rooms, home gyms and in-home theaters are among the most common basement remodeling projects. Whether you are upgrading an older home or completing an unfinished lower level in a new one, here s what designers recommend to maximize your space:

The number one requirement for creating an ideal basement is that it be dry, so tackle any moisture problems first.

To achieve your ultimate space, walls, floors and ceilings must be finished. No concrete is allowed in this ultimate space. Hang dry wall to cover the concrete blocks, providing a homey feeling, and don t forget insulation. Basement rooms that are heated need insulation with an R-value of 10.

Keep the ceiling height as high as possible to alleviate the boxy feeling of a subterranean space.

Create an open floor plan that allows families to spend time together but still has space for multiple tasks.

Paint the walls a warm, inviting color to give ambiance or hang wallpaper above a chair rail with paint below.

Use recessed lighting and sconces throughout the space for a soft, inviting glow.

Natural light is critical to basement space. Capitalize on any existing windows and use the same quality materials for them that you used for those upstairs. You can create the image of additional windows by hanging blinds or curtains where no windows exist. Or you can paint your own outdoor scene and frame it with a window treatment.

Include full-frame window walls to separate, but link two rooms. The use of interior glass will let light flow between the rooms and create a feeling of spaciousness.

Use mirrors to help reflect light as well as give the room added dimension.

Open the stairway, so it doesn t feel like a long, dark tunnel. Consider adding built-in lighting to stairways and utilize the space below.

Add a fireplace to create a focal point in the room.

Use columns as architectural accents.

Hang framed photographs or artwork, using spotlights or track lights to create intimacy.

Select upholstered seating that is comfortable and inviting to add warmth and texture to the room.

Consider a hardwood floor with a richly colored area rug placed in the seating area before the fireplace.

Plan electrical outlets with present and future needs in mind. For example, you may decide at some future date to change your home gym into an office or spare bedroom.

Don t forget to add plants to your basement rooms. Select low-light loving plants for the best results and minimum maintenance.

Keep in mind when selecting materials that this may become a favorite hangout for the family, so choose fabrics and finishes that wear well.

Today, many families are choosing to turn their basement storage areas into ultimate living spaces. By selecting quality materials and hiring qualified professionals to do the work, you can create an oasis to enjoy for years to come.



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