Remake Your Basement on a Budget

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If you have a basement (lucky dog!), chances are it’s not working exactly how you want it to. For most people, the basement serves as an out-of-sight catchall, and is given far less attention than the rest of the house. If you’re interested in sprucing up your underground space without the high costs of renovation, check out these ideas.

The floors.

For a clean, finished look, consider painting or sealing the concrete floor of your basement. You can do this yourself! First, remove everything from the floors, then sweep, apply a degreaser (use a mop, once the degreaser has been diluted with water), scrub away dirt, rinse with water, and allow the floors to dry. Fill in any cracks or holes with concrete filler, then apply sealer or paint once the filler has dried. This will dramatically improve the appearance of your basement for about one hundred dollars.

The walls.

Just as with the floors, painting the walls of your basement will make a huge impact at a fairly low cost. The biggest different with painting concrete walls (as opposed to those in the rest of your house) is the amount of cleaning you’ll need to do before you can paint. You’ll want to start by removing all dust and dirt from the walls with a broom, and wipe with a damp cloth. Then, use bleach and water to remove mold and mildew stains. There are also commercial cleaners meant to take off oils and roughen the surface of the concrete so the paint adheres well. Use a concrete-specific primer and concrete-specific paint; these are designed to cover the porous surfaces of basement walls. If you’re put off by the time commitment of this project, consider installing a curtain track system and hiding the basement walls with any curtains you choose.

The furnishings.

This is the perfect place for the giant recliners and cushy love seat that are too big (and perhaps dated) for your living room. The basement needs warmth and coziness if it’s going to function as a living space. Add comfy area rugs to insulate and designate separate areas within the basement. Soft lighting from floor lamps will create an inviting space, and provide a nice alternative to the standard, harsh, bare bulbs.

The finishes.

Remember: it’s a basement. Don’t get caught up in trying to make it flow with the rest of the house, because it won’t (unless you engage in a costly remodel). Exposed pipes, 2x4s, and occasional tufts of insulation are part of having an unfinished basement. Call it “industrial chic” and incorporate it into your design plan.

If you’ve been putting off the basement project because there’s no money in the budget for a full-scale renovation, it’s time to revisit the plan. Transforming your basement doesn’t have to mean knocking down walls and installing new plumbing. Simple changes like painting and adding cozy furniture can make this formerly untouched room an inviting space for you and your family.

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