Norwell: 5 Critical Tips For Finishing Your Basement

Special Guest article by: Paulette O’Connell, OCO architecture::design

Are you thinking of turning that unfinished basement into livable space? Here are five tips to think about while planning to make it the most bang for your buck.

  1. 1. Built in storage

If you are thinking of turning your basement into living space, be aware that you will lose the space for storing old toys, clothes, holiday decorations and the like.  Incorporating storage into your plans is very important.  You can opt to section off an area for dedicated storage.  You can go one step further and add a cedar closet for off-season clothes or a gift wrapping room for all the holiday supplies. But don’t overlook other spaces; make use of every nook and cranny.  For instance, turn that awkward space under the stair into bookshelves, a closet or a great seating nook, as shown.

2. Bathroom

It is always a good idea to add bathroom to your basement design. Think about how you will use the space, as an extra bedroom for overnight guests, a play space by young kids who are potty training, or as the guys hang-out for Sunday football. In any case, the convenience of a bath on this level will be immeasurable.  Many new homes will have plumbing lines already located under the slab.  However, older homes may require new plumbing trenches.  If that is the case, a cost effective solution is to install a toilet with a built-in ejector pump, such as the ones form Saniflo or Quik-Jon.

3. Lighting

Many basements have very small or no windows at all.  This makes these spaces very dim and uninviting.  Here are some key tricks to open up and brighten the space.

  1. Create the illusion of windows.  In the photo below, the windows flanking the fireplace are actually false.  They are frosted glass windows that backup to a storage room. However they give the illusion of the space extending to the outside.  In the evening they can be back-lit.
  2. Two- Create more than one lighting scenario with overhead lighting, wall sconces and table lamps.  Then you will have options to light the room based on the task at hand.
  3. Note that many basements have low ceilings and large mechanical ducts, so recessed lighting can be tricky.  Other options are low profile surface mounted lights and cove lights.

4. Maximizing Limitations

You can use that space under the stairs for storage but what do you do about the columns dividing up your basement?  Don’t think of it as a problem, think of it as an opportunity.  You can create decorative columns with or without half walls that can divide your large basement into different functions such as a kids’ play area, TV area, and kitchenette.  You can also use the columns to create a focal point, think about incorporating them into a beautiful storage unit or a bar with additional seating, as shown.

5. Welcoming entrance

If you are going through the effort of investing in your basement to be an extension of your home, make it feel like an extension of your home.  Remove the stairway walls and replace them with beautiful handrails.  This will create an open and inviting feeling as you enter the space.  Add a decorative fixture over the stairs for visual impact.  You can even remove the door to the basement; opening up the stair and making it feel like another level in your home.  If you want to separate the space, think of adding a glass French door instead.

I hope these ideas get you thinking.  I wish you the best of luck on your renovation.

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This was a special guest article Written by Paulette O’Connell principal and owner of OCO architecture::design; specializing in residential designs for custom homes, additions and renovations. We appreciate all thehelp Ms. O’Connell has give our clients here at Almar Building & Remodeling. Ms. O’Connell is also a founding member of the Dream Home Alliance.

Project photos by OCO architecture::design
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