As you draw up the plan for the basement and designate specific areas, stick to the goal of creating a warm, welcoming space and make every square foot count. If the basement looks inviting as you walk down the stairs, you'll want to go there often. Comfortable furniture, pleasing colours, decorative accents on the walls and on shelving, and a warming fireplace are the hallmarks of a pleasant, welcoming room. Certain decisions have to be made at this point to ensure you fulfill your family’s needs according to everyone’s respective activities.
The current trend is towards "hiving", a new lifestyle characterized, among other things, by a desire to keep in contact with others and also with the world at large, within the comfort of home. Room divisions disappear to allow the occupants to go about their business while living in a communal space. Rooms therefore become multi-functional: for example, home theatres can now be situated near laundry rooms thanks to the new high-performance, ultra quiet washing machines.
Basements often have structural constraints that you’ll have to incorporate or find a way around. There are probably low ceilings or smaller windows, temperatures can be a few degrees lower, pipes or technical equipment may be visible. You need to be aware of these constraints before starting work. Make use of arches and columns: they create psychological divisions, marking out specific areas and enhancing the style of decor.
An additional concern for basement layouts is the space. Is your basement one big empty room? Does it have smaller dividing room? Do I want it to be one big room, or is it better with smaller spaces for different functions? Would it be easy to add a bathroom or half bath? These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself before you begin.
Space is often limited, and they can also be dark, so think big – go for open spaces. This lets natural light filter into the whole area creating an impression of spaciousness. If the rooms are designed for activities that require quiet and concentration – home offices or libraries, for example – then you could opt for doors that let the light through, such as sliding doors or French-style doors inset with frosted or plain glass. These offer a good compromise between needing to be closed off but being able to enjoy better light. After all, no one ever said studying and working had to be gloomy!
If, for example, you find there is any dampness, you must take steps to eliminate it by means of good aeration and heating. There’s no escaping the fact that it must be dealt with sooner or later; it would be a great pity to take major corrective measures once your renovations are complete and to end up having to redo part of the work. Be in charge of your project every step of the way rather than working by trial and error.
It’s also at the planning stage that you should be thinking about extra storage and about how you could fit out the basement to best organize the space. Later on, you’ll congratulate yourself for having done this beforehand.
The layout for the basement has potential to be many different kinds of rooms, depending on each family’s needs—both now and in the future. Though its often tempting to design a space for the here and now, you would be foolish to not consider the future. For instance, a playroom may be necessary at your particular stage of life, but design it in such a way that it can easily be transformed into, say a movie room, a few shorts years down the road.
Here is a list of potential basement ideas to get you started, but remember that the possibilities are endless. Create a basement to meet your needs.