His Dark Materials… Making Over Your Dingy Basement


For those people who are lucky enough to have an extra room in their house, it usually forms the basis of the most unimportant room in the house, the junk room!

But, why don’t we put this room to good use? For most people, especially those who have a basement, we use it as some form of storage, but we could be using it as an entertainment room, rumpus room, or even a spare bedroom.

But, making over the basement can be a bigger challenge then we would care to admit, especially if it’s prone to flooding, but there are things we can do to help convert our basement to maximize its usage, but also to make it a stylish addition to our home.

Define The Purpose First

It might be a simple thing, but it’s far better for you to decide at the very outset what the purpose is.

From there, you will have more clarity in preparing the space for renovation. For example, do you want it to be a home office? This is going to be far different than if you were to renovate it for the purposes of entertainment. It’s a simple thing, but it’s worth thinking about, because from there, practicality and its various offshoots will loom large in your mind. Do you want the basement to be self-contained?

Because if you want it to be a home office, then you need privacy, and this is when something like soundproofing may come into its own. In addition, you may actually want your basement to be a storage facility, but that’s not to say you can’t use your basement for other things!

You can purchase a product from a company called Plastic Cellars, where underground storage units can be installed into the ground. This can take some time because the ground has to be excavated, as well as insulation and foundations added, before the storage facility goes back in.

Checking The Basement For Safety Issues

Converting a basement can be costly, but it can be even more costly if you don’t know the potential hazards first.

Moisture is one of the first warning signs, and the time of year is something to consider, because if you decide to renovate during the winter months, you may suffer flood damage once the ice thaws.

Sustaining water damage loss in the basement can be manageable, especially if you don’t use the basement already, but it would be heartbreaking to find that you’ve undertaken this renovation, and stocked it to the rafters with fancy equipment and electronic items, only to find that not only that it’s all damaged, but it makes your home potentially unsafe. Water isn’t the only issue; you may have problems with pests and insects.

This can be easily fixed with sealing up any holes or cracks, but also ensuring that you undertake a regular inspection, especially if your house is prone to a lot of weather damage.

Some Of The Finer Details

Renovating a basement in general terms isn’t going to cause any issues with local authorities.

When you are converting a cellar or basement that’s already in existence, you don’t need any planning permission. But, the major alterations that can be done, for example, reducing the floor level of a basement so you have more headroom is classed as an extension, so you need to acquire planning permission.

It is only an issue if you plan on extending the property. If you’ve got a basement or cellar in existence, and it’s just cosmetic changes, you are good to go.

Undertaking The Renovation

The conversion process doesn’t take long if you have everything in place, and usually takes a couple of weeks.

But when you are making some considerable changes, in an aesthetic sense, it can be 2 or 3 weeks, because the sump needs to be dug out. But this is if you are using a membrane lining system. As with any sort of renovation, the best plan of action is to keep an eye on the budget, but also consider your contractor, and ensure that you have open lines of communication.

When you work with any builder or contractor, changing things at the last minute doesn’t just prove to be time-consuming, but it’s going to be frustrating for them and for you. Throughout the whole process, be sure to take photos just to keep an eye on the progression, after all, you are paying for it.

And when you are changing the flooring, this can be a bone of contention, because you may want to add hardwood flooring or even laminate material, but the humidity levels in the basement tends to cause materials to expand and contract, and so, after you’ve sufficiently cleaned the concrete floors, a carpet is always the easiest option. Not only this, but it makes for a very cozy space.

Some Aesthetic Considerations

Once you’ve got for it just right, then you can consider how much light to let into the basement, especially if you haven’t got windows, but this is where adequate lighting, such as track lighting, will come in handy.

Generally speaking, basements are quite dark and dingy, so when you are undertaking a considerable renovation, think about letting the light in, not just with standard household light fixtures, but various tricks to reflect more light back into the space. You could use mirrors to reflect the lights, but there are other tricks you can use to generally add more brightness to the area.

As one of the most underused spaces in the house, the basement needn’t be just a storage facility.

Instead, it’s a very useful space to take advantage of, not just for storage, but to add value to the home too. If your property doesn’t have a garden, your home couldn’t be distinctly lacking in some sort of value, which you can claw back if you have a basement space that is big enough. Basements don’t have to be dark, dank, and depressing. Instead, let some light in and give your home more purpose.



Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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