Do you have a basement? Is it being enjoyed? Does it look blah? (Are you perhaps afraid to go down there?) Whether you own or rent, you'll find inspiration in the end results of these two basements designed by creative couples (one in a rental home, one in an owned home). Each couple approached design in different ways, but the outcomes are the same: A previously unused basement ends up a beautiful bonus space for the home.
→ A boring rental basement turned comfy guest suite and hang-out den:
When Blanca and Cody moved into their Seattle rental house, they instantly saw potential in their "crumbly" basement (shown above in the glorious "after" state). They first painted the entire space white to brighten the basement. They switched out an old, run-down sink with a counter and sink they salvaged from a reuse store. They invested in a stacking washer and dryer to leave more space for lounging.
As you can see from the photos of their space in their tour, they didn't have to invest in a lot of furniture or objects to make the room feel comfortable. They simply chose statement pieces, like an orange-brown corduroy sectional couch and an eye-catching hanging chair.
In Blanca and Cody's own words:
"It’s the best place to host friends and it doubles as a comfy overnight guest suite full of amenities!"
Rental basement lessons to use in your own space:
- Cover everything in clean white paint (Even the floors! If you can, paint over things you'd like to hide, like electrical panels, etc) to make it instantly feel larger and brighter.
- Pick bold, statement-making furniture pieces; you won't have to bring in as many accessories to make the space feel "full."
- Save space by upgrading outdated (and bulky) appliances
→ A dated basement becomes a bonus room for the entire family:
Not only did the basement look dated in Alison and Jeff's historic Minneapolis home, it was downright unsafe! Wobbly, loose stairs made getting into the space a dangerous endeavor. So Alison (who is a big fan of learning how to repair things around the house) fixed the stairs (retreading and re-risering them and adding stylish trim to the staircase and newel post). From Alison: "I had no idea what I was doing, but it felt pretty damn good to figure it all out."
After employing a contractor to take the dated basement's existing walls "down to the studs" and then adding new drywall, Alison jumped in again with the DIY spirit by tackling the finishing (and fun!) details like paint, built-in cabinets, wallpaper, shelving, stairs and upholstery. The result? A bold space that has lots of stylish nooks for many different types of activities — the perfect solution for a family with different personalities and creative needs.
Still feeling too timid to tackle a basement redesign yourself? Take this advice from Alison to heart:
"Don’t be afraid to do it yourself! There is so much to learn, and every project gives you a little more knowledge and confidence to tackle the next."
Lessons to take from this basement renovation for your own space:
- White paint and furniture again seems to be a great choice to lighten up a space that doesn't get much natural light.
- Bold design elements like wallpaper, art and DIY light fixtures keep a basement from being boring and turn it into a fun space you actually want to spend time in.
(Image credits: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom; Emma Fiala)