Basement remodeling is a large undertaking but has major benefits once the project is complete, the biggest one being that you gain additional living space. Depending on the size of the area and how long it takes to finish your basement, there are many different ways you can use it, whether that’s creating a guest room, playroom, home office, or entertainment hub. Think about your needs and future needs when looking through some of these basement remodeling ideas to find the best fit for you.
1. Home Theater
Dark basements are the ideal place in your home for theaters because there’s no light that will interfere with the video quality. Plus, who doesn’t want an area to watch movies with friends and families sporting all the home theater essentials—a screen, sound system, seats, and snacks? If you have the space, install platforms to the basement floor to build up a second row of reclining leather seats so everyone gets a good view. Don’t forget the personal popcorn maker for the ultimate movie theater experience at home.
2. Wet Bar
Let’s face it—going out to eat and buying drinks can get expensive. Instead, create a basement bar to serve as a hub for entertaining and show off your mixology skills. You can opt for a DIY basement bar if you don’t mind a dry bar, but a wet bar is particularly valuable when it comes to entertaining as you can clean glasses and spills without leaving the party.
3. Wine Storage
Showcase your wine collection in your newly finished basement with a simple wine rack added to the walls or with a full climate-controlled cellar area if you’re a more serious wine enthusiast. Section off an area of your choice to store the wine in, and add a cooling unit to keep your collection at a preferred temperature range of 45 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange some leather upholstered chairs and a conversation table next to your wine rack for a place to pour a perfectly chilled glass.
What’s cozier than curling up in front of a fireplace? Basements tend to be on the cooler side, so adding a fireplace provides warmth while also creating a focal point in the room. You can have a professional install a wood-burning or propane fireplace, or you can install a simple electric fireplace for a quick and cozy solution.
Finding a designated area for kids to play in can be a challenge, especially during winter months or on rainy days. Consider using your basement for a playroom complete with a slide, small trampoline, or rock-climbing wall (with a fold-out mat underneath it to catch any falls). You can DIY built-in storage for toys, books, and games, and you could even build a mudroom to separate the exterior entrance from the area to help keep it as clean as possible.
6. Game Room
Make your basement the go-to area to unwind by building a game room. If you have limited space, consider a simple dartboard and maybe a fold-down table with some stools for board games. Have lots of space? Add a pool table and hang a scoreboard on a nearby wall.
7. Craft or Art Room
If you enjoy crafts or other hobbies, make a relaxing space in your basement where you can find inspiration to pursue your interests. Add extra lighting, storage bins, and a table with enough space to sprawl out and unleash your creativity. If you’re an artist, you can install a drying rack for paintings, a fold-down easel to save space, and a utility sink for cleaning up after you’re done.
8. Guest Room
Depending on the size of your basement, you can use the full space as a guest room or section off a portion of it for a private space for guests, which is more affordable than the cost to finish an attic for the same purpose. To do the latter, either add walls (which may require a permit) or get creative and use a privacy barrier. Make your guests feel at home with comfy bedding, and stash a basket of toiletries and towels down there so they have everything they need during their stay.
9. In-Law Suite
If you have family members that frequently visit or stay for an extended period of time, consider building an in-law suite in your finished basement. This will drive up the cost to finish your basement, but an in-law suite is a step up from a guest bedroom and allows your family members and visitors to spread out a bit more when they stay with you. This type of space is more like a small apartment, and you can equip it with a kitchenette, a full bathroom, and separate living/sleeping areas.
10. Teen Bedroom
If you have a teen that shares a room with a sibling or is simply outgrowing their current bedroom, create a teen bedroom and hangout space in your basement—you’ll be the coolest parent in the neighborhood! Section off the basement, and design an area where they can sleep, relax, and study. Let them decorate it themselves to showcase their personal style.
11. Small Apartment
If you’re able to get a rental permit for your finished basement, you could even consider renting out the space for some extra income.
If you don’t want to commit to being a full-time landlord, consider using your small apartment to rent out as a short-term rental for vacationers or those looking for temporary living arrangements. When you’re not using your basement as a short-term rental solution, you can invite friends and family to stay with you and enjoy the updated living area (with a separate entrance for more privacy).
12. Laundry Room
While laundry isn’t the most exciting task, a beautiful, functional laundry room makes this household chore a bit less daunting. Stack your washer and dryer for extra room. Then add modern cabinetry for storage, use soft paint tones, and arrange your supplies in organized containers. We recommend considering a countertop for easy folding, as well as a sink or utility sink for dealing with stains and spills.
13. Home Gym
Oftentimes, the hardest part about working out is actually getting to the gym. Transform your basement into a home gym to bring the gym to you. Get a few pieces of large gym equipment, such as a treadmill, rower, and elliptical, then cover your concrete floors with rubber mats or tiles to absorb their shock and sound. Add some free weights, a mirror, and inspirational artwork to increase motivation. Since basements are prone to moisture build-up, we recommend installing a self-draining dehumidifier in the workout space to be safe.
14. Office or Study
As remote and hybrid work is continuing to increase in popularity, the need for home offices is on the rise. Use your finished basement space to design a home office with a sleek desk and white built-ins for storage for a modern, distraction free space. Paint the room white, and add light-colored flooring to make the space feel larger and more inspiring.
15. Space Under the Stairs
Looking for small basement renovation ideas? The space under your basement stairs is often overlooked, but adding drawers here maximizes your storage in an unobtrusive way. You can also turn this into a haven for your pets complete with dog or cat toys, a bed, and food and water dishes, or install an under-stairs closet for pantry or linen storage.
16. Team Tribute
If you or a family member are a sports buff, consider theming your basement around a favorite team. Frame jerseys, playing cards, or enclose autographed balls to showcase some of your favorite gear. Add in some recreational games or nets for an exciting place to watch the big game. If you want to go all out, build a dry bar, install team-themed stools and lighting, and make an epoxy bar top with team memorabilia inlaid in it.
17. Musician’s Haven
Appeal to the musicians in your home by upgrading your basement centered on music and instruments. Store any instruments in the basement and use the space as an area to unleash your creativity. Install surround sound speakers for better acoustics. Then, decorate it by hanging vinyl records or old guitars, posters of your favorite band, or pictures you may have taken at concerts.
Many instruments and microphones are sensitive to moisture, so we recommend a dehumidifier in the area to maintain a healthy environment for your equipment.
18. Traveler’s Paradise
Are you or someone in the house a world traveler? Create a travel theme in your basement to show off your souvenirs and photos. Add extra shelving units to feature your smaller mementos. You can also customize wall decor by painting or hanging a map of the world, and you can install a small bookshelf for travel guides and maps.
19. Reading Nook
A basement is one of the best places in the home to read because it’s away from the noises and distractions on the main floor. You can double down on this idea and build a small—or massive!—reading nook into the area. Make sure you install seating or an area to lie down with plenty of cushions and pillows, ample lighting, and maybe a small bookshelf and a wall-mounted headphone rack if you need extra protection from distractions.
20. Use Doors to Break Up the Space
Open space can be great for entertaining, but if you don’t plan on having many people over at once, consider repurposing certain areas as bedrooms, bathrooms, or storage areas. You can easily break up the monotony by installing doors to separate areas and make them a little more private.
21. Use It for Storage
It might seem like a waste to use finished basement area for storage, but it’s ideal for things you don’t want exposed to the elements or the humidity and temperature changes you’d see in an unfinished basement. You can install built-in shelves or cabinets on the walls to house things like old pictures, seasonal clothes, holiday decorations, and more.
22. Build a Personal Library
Are you or a family member an avid reader or book collector? If you don’t have space for your budding book collection, consider converting a basement room to a personal library. You can install long bookshelves along the walls, get creative with warm lighting, and put in some comfy chairs for when you’re ready to unwind with something from your collection. Although it’s probably unnecessary in a shorter area like a basement, a sliding library ladder can be a unique and appealing addition.
How many people can say they have an arcade in their homes? If you have some extra space in your basement, you could consider getting or building some game cabinets and putting in some slot machines. Spruce up the area by installing retro carpeting, lots of neon lights, and a change machine.
24. Photo Studio
Are you into photography or videography? That extra basement room might be the ideal place to store your equipment and set up an area to shoot. You can paint or decorate walls to serve as different backdrops, install professional lighting, and keep a collapsible backdrop on hands for special shoots. Add a locked door to keep kids away from your expensive equipment.
25. Break Up the Space
If you have a few different rooms you want your basement to serve as, you can get creative with transitions between the spaces to make things interesting or more or less cohesive. Consider adding barn doors to separate areas entirely, archways to provide continuity in separation, or screens or accordion doors to provide temporary transitions.
Basement Remodeling Add-Ons and Tips
Regardless of how you use your finished basement area, you should spend some time to make sure you protect the space and that it includes all of the finishes you think you’ll want in your basement now and in the future. There are a few things we suggest considering, in particular, as getting these out of the way now will make bringing your finished basement ideas to life easier when you’re ready.
Before starting any renovations, you need to make sure your basement is watertight or you risk damaging all your new stuff. Basements are prone to moisture build up, so we recommend waterproofing the walls and floor before you fully finish any of the space.
There are a few things you can do to waterproof your basement, including applying masonry sealant to existing walls, filling in foundation cracks, adding interior drains, installing a waterproof membrane, rerouting gutters to direct rainwater away from your foundation, and even adding a sump pump. It’s best to hire a local waterproofing pro to handle these tasks, unless you’re a skilled DIYer.
Adding plumbing and installing a bathroom is a big job, but it can help your basement increase the value of your home even more—not to mention provide convenience and comfort for you and your family. Planning out the plumbing additions you’ll need upfront can save time and money and prevent you from having to cut into new walls if you decide to add fixtures down the road.
Remember, if you are adding a wet bar, utility sink, kitchenette, or bathroom to your basement design, you will need to have a separate water line running to each fixture, as well as a drainage line tied into your main drainage line.
Insulate the Ceiling, Walls, and Pipes
Insulation creates a more usable space by keeping the basement temperature more comfortable. Insulating the basement ceilings can keep your main floors warmer as well, so it’s beneficial to do this before you finish the ceiling.
Insulating the walls prevents the heat from escaping outside, and insulating around pipes can protect them from freezing. Insulation can also act as a sound barrier, so it’s particularly helpful if you’re installing a home theater or music room.
Just make sure you install insulation that makes sense. Fiberglass insulation is popular on main floors, but it’s not suitable to install next to foundation walls, as moisture will quickly destroy it and render it useless. We recommend connecting with a basement remodeling professional near you to ensure you get the right materials for your needs.
Tweak the Electric
You may already have power in your basement, but it’s likely that you’ll have to run more electric depending on what you want to do with the space. For example, if you want a home theater, you may need to install an outlet in the ceiling for the projector to plug into; a home arcade could demand additional outlets and even a service upgrade.
You should consider the type of lighting and the number of lights you want there, too. Don’t forget to check local regulations, as they will most likely determine the number of outlets you can have and who can install the electricity.
Construct a Separate Entrance
If you plan on using the basement as a bedroom, guest bedroom, or even a small apartment, you will need to add a separate exit and entrance. If your basement is partially underground, you can add stairs and a door to create a walkout basement.
Reframe and Put Up Drywall
Reframing existing walls gives you the opportunity to adjust the layout of the basement if you want to add separate rooms, alcoves, or unique room transitions. The cost to frame a basement runs from $500 to $1,600, with homeowners spending an average of $1,200 on the project.
Adding drywall is when your basement really begins to look like a finished living space. Opt for mildew and moisture-resistant drywall panels to protect the space from dampness and humidity. Once the drywall is up, you can begin to paint and make the area look more complete.
Make It Safe
No matter how you intend on using your basement space, it’s critical that the renovations are up to building code to ensure they’re safe for any occupants. If you plan on installing bedrooms or temporary living quarters, you’ll likely need to put in egress windows to serve as a means of escape in the case of an emergency and as proper basement ventilation. You’ll also need smoke and CO detectors, and your building department might mandate fireproof sheetrock surrounding your boiler or other utilities.
Depending on your location, radon can be an issue in basements. If that’s the case, you’ll also need a radon alarm and radon mitigation measures.
When in doubt, it’s best to ensure your space is fully up to code and get a professional to help make sure everything is safe for your intended basement use.