Giving Your Basement the Illusion of Space

Basement-RemodelingUnlike other areas of your home, you can’t simply expand the size of your basement; you’re pretty much locked into what’s already there. But there are ways to create the sensation of having a more airy and inviting basement, rather than living over a cramped, dark and claustrophobic dungeon.

First of all, take advantage of the available natural lighting. In addition to creating additional ventilation, sunlight enhances the natural mood of any space. If you’ve got a garden-entry basement doorway, keep the entryway clutter-free. Consider replacing any small-pane windows with larger glass plates. Do away with curtains, which tend to overwhelm windows. Light-colored shutters or blinds not only allow more light to enter, they provide a more clearly-defined geometric configuration.

Walk around the exterior of your house to examine all basement windows—egress, garden-level, etc.—to ensure all are unobstructed by shrubbery, grass, trees or tree limbs.

Once you’ve done all you can with natural light, give some thought to the most effective and efficient use of other lighting schemes. You’ll want something that provides sufficient illumination, yet does so without overwhelming the room. Low-power bulbs and diffused lighting can provide an ambient and relaxed environment. A subtle use of spots, particularly aimed towards dark corners does away with claustrophobic shadows and brightens the mood of the room considerably.

To further underscore a sense of spaciousness, decorate with light pastel colors on both walls and furnishings. Utilize horizontal patterns rather than vertical ones, which tend to suggest a “walled” or even “jailed in” feeling to small interiors.

Rather than separating the basement from the rest of your home with a solid wooden door, either leave it open or install a glass door instead.

Go for a more “Spartan” look—fewer furnishings and decorations will lighten the room’s atmosphere. Built-in bookcases crammed with books and games, plastic storage bins, lots of pillows, knickknacks, photos and paintings will overwhelm the space.

Finally, contemplate the finishing touch of a plant or two that doesn’t require much direct sunlight. This can do wonders to give a room a ventilated and “green” look.

These few touches can transform that dank room that lurks downstairs just off your kitchen to an inviting and pleasant place to relax and entertain guests.

Tips from design expert Savs Foster

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