Unfinished basements are great for all-purpose storage; they’re sort of the out-of-sight out-of-mind section of most houses, especially if you don’t also have an attic. But while the boxes of holiday decorations and poorly-lit washer and drier are fairly ubiquitous, they’re definitely becoming less so. More and more often these days, homeowners are taking on major basement remodels. Not only will a finished basement offer you more livable space in your home, but it can actually help boost the square footage – and value – of your home. So if you have an unfinished basement and can stand to lose a little storage, here are a few basement remodeling projects to turn that damp, dank space into a room you’ll love to live in.
Anyone who does a lot of work at home knows that people who don’t tend to think of “working from home” as “not working.” Especially if you work in a semi-public space, like at your dining table or in the living room, it can be a little difficult to focus on what you’re trying to get done. Turning an unfinished basement (or even just part of one) into a home office is a great way to dodge the family and get the privacy you need. Better still, if you do a significant portion of your work at home, you may be able to deduct a proportionate amount of your home’s expenses (possibly including a portion of the cost of the basement remodel) as a home office expense on your taxes.
Exercise equipment takes up a lot of space. Even compact or stowable workout gear requires more than a little floor space, to say nothing of gym-quality machines. If you’re serious about fitness (or are just sick of paying for a gym membership you never use), a big basement remodel is a great opportunity to build a gym of your own. Because they’re underground, basements are typically cooler than the rest of your house, and the concrete floor can support very heavy equipment. Better still, because home gyms are so simple, you can get away with simply installing foam floor pads or inexpensive carpeting to cushion your feet.
If you’ve been toying with the idea of upgrading your TV to a full home theater, your basement might be just the right place to do it. All home theater systems benefit from darkness, and rather than blocking off your windows upstairs, a basement theater is sufficiently dark day and night, so you’ll never have to worry about glare. Basements are also easier to soundproof than the rest of your home, with acoustic tiling on the walls and ceiling. That means you can install a surround sound system without having to worry so much about bothering your housemates and neighbors. And because basements are often a single, open space, a full basement remodel can easily accommodate a projection screen and even movie theater style recliners for an authentic movie-going experience.
Chances are, your current laundry set up is in your basement, whether it’s a finished basement or not. But if it isn’t, your laundry room probably isn’t the most pleasant place to be – cold concrete floors, cinder block walls, and poor lighting do not exactly make a great place to hang out. If you have a big family, though, chances are you spend a lot of time there anyway. Finishing that space is a great way to make the task a little less arduous. Installing permanent shelving, plenty of storage cabinets, a hefty sink, lots of counter space for sorting and folding, along with a decent dose of lighting and more comfortable flooring will not only make your basement more attractive, but will make a necessary chore a little less miserable.
Maybe one of the most popular basement remodels, many basements make surprisingly good game rooms. Basements have wide, open spaces that the upper levels of your home may not, meaning that they can more comfortably accommodate pool tables, ping pong tables, and the like. In combination with a home theater, you can even set up multiple videogame consoles on a big screen and in surround sound. For the more discerning collector, it’s even possible these days to purchase full sized arcade cabinets and play your favorite retro games, arcade style, right in your own home.
Thinking “yes, all of the above!”? You might want to consider a larger-scale basement remodel, lovingly referred to as a man cave. Complete with everything from big screen TVs to full bars and pinball machines, man caves are an escape dedicated to all things guy. Great for fellas who want a space to themselves, and for their women who might not enjoy having the big game cranked up to 11, turning your unfinished basement into a full fledged man cave can actually ease marital tension and help get guys to take a vested interest in the care and keeping of the home. To maximize the value added to your home, focus your basement remodel on generic fixtures (like high quality floors, walls, and lighting, or a wet bar or bathroom) that are permanent, and personalized features (like a big screen, air hockey table, or hub cap collection) that can go with you when you move.
This one might seem a little out there, but turning that unfinished basement into an apartment for rent is becoming increasingly common in these tough financial times. Now, this is no small project: you’ll need not only to upgrade the floor and walls, but install all the necessities from a bathroom full kitchen with refrigerator to separate telephone, cable, and even electrical wiring. But it’s a big budget basement remodel that can really pay off – a consistent renter can pay the lion’s share of your mortgage (or even pay it in its entirety), paying for the work and becoming a significant source of income over time. Of course, you’ll have something akin to a housemate (even if the basement has a separate entrance), and should check with a contractor and a real estate agent to make sure this is a viable option in your area, but under the right circumstances converting an unfinished basement into a garden apartment is a great way to maximize your property’s potential.
What do you have in mind for your basement remodel? Are you aching to build a new man cave, boost your home’s square footage, or just cut back on the moisture?