Does your basement’s man cave resemble a real cave: gloomy, moist, and filled with half-seen objects that you trip over? Is the spare bedroom down there the place where you exile in-laws that you don’t get along with? Maybe your basement is just a strong contender for the ‘Most Boring Room in Your House’ awards.
This area, whether it’s an extra room or an entire subterranean floor, is due for a makeover. How do you upgrade the room from lackluster to luxe without spending a fortune? Here are 25 quick and creative tips:
Embrace the second step of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ by repurposing items from around the house.
1. Create Storage
Many basements become a catch-all room for random household clutter. Fight this by moving in old wardrobes, cabinets, entertainment system furniture, etc. This lets you get the clutter out of sight while keeping the items at hand as needed.
2. Find a Home for Oversized Furniture
Now that you’ve cleared the clutter out of the way, you finally have a space that can comfortably house that impractically large sectional your in-laws gave you. You know the one, that couch with real leather and butter-soft cushions that you can’t bear to part with, but can’t squeeze into the living room.
3. Add a Statement Rug
Carpet that’s too much for other areas of the home can give much-needed visual interest to the basement rooms. This is especially true if you’re working with a more muted color scheme, or if you can’t yet invest in more expensive items. Use soft rugs and deep piles to create the most luxurious experience for people walking across it.
4. Show Off the Star of the Basement
If you have a really nice piece of furniture like a gorgeous hardwood billiard table, make it the centerpiece of the room. Angle lights toward it, complement the colors when you’re painting, and banish distracting furniture. This creates a showstopper that your guests will love at first sight.
5. Play With Lamps
Your basement is a space typically reserved for you, family, and trusted friends. This means that it doesn’t need to be as rigidly styled as more public areas of the home. If you have some charming or ornate lamps that don’t fit into the decor elsewhere, dig them out and see how they look downstairs.
The right lamp can add light, sophistication, and a touch of your individuality to the space.
6. Re-home Your Houseplants
Even if you’re rocking a very neutral palette in your basement, a lush splash of green is always chic. Chances are you won’t have to drop a Benjamin at the garden center. Although sun-loving plants aren’t a good fit here, certain varieties of houseplant do well in lower-light conditions. Look for:
- Snake plants
- Rubber trees
- Lucky bamboo
- Spider plants
- Parlor palms
- Peace lilies
- Maidenhair ferns
- Mints — handy near the wet bar, too!
Note: Rotate your plants so all sides get light, or they’ll start to lose leaves and get lopsided.
Paint is an affordable, beginner-friendly project that can completely change the look of a room.
7. Dig Into the Gold Rush Trend
Rap stars with more wealth than taste have given gold rooms a bit of a bad reputation. However, a smart and restrained use of metallic elements is still very effective at creating a luxurious look. Can you see how the gold table legs and drawer pulls above really pop?
Note: Do you prefer a cool color scheme? Pewter and silver can look just as opulent as gold, copper, and bronze.
8. Try Light and Neutral Colors
This doesn’t mean you need to stick to a bland, monochromatic palette. However, ‘classic’ colors are timeless for a reason. Trendy colors… well. One day you’re painting your basement a very ‘now’ and fresh citrus shade. A few months later, you wake up in cold sweats realizing that you’ve painted your entire basement a hideous orange.
Avoid color eyesores by sticking to neutrals on the bigger surfaces of the space. You can always get that neon orange out of your system with an accent wall (see tip 10).
9. Embrace Industrial Chic
If your basement is finished but rough around the edges, you could spend a lot of money covering the beams and perfecting the plasterboard … or you could lean in to the look. An industrial-styled space doesn’t hide weathered wooden floors or old brickwork. It highlights these features.
The trick to creating a luxurious look here is in contrast. Show a crisp, perfectly painted white wall … making those ancient beams pop. Paint the rafters a dark color, contrasting with lighter furniture and carpets. Think clean and sophisticated zones interspersed with weathered industrial elements.
10. Try Color Blocking
An accent wall can be any wall or section that contrasts with the rest. This lets you play with color trends and draw the eye to whatever feature you’re trying to showcase. Best of all: if you end up with major color regrets, you’ve got a lot less repainting to do.
Tips to Upgrade Your Existing Space
Between the worlds of ‘use what you have’ and ‘buy something new’ is this category of tips. Here, you’ll need to do a little work but it won’t involve the time or financial headache of a full remodel.
11. Change out the Hardware
One way to ‘handle’ upgrades is to swap out your basement hardware. This could include doorknobs, drawer pulls, cabinet handles, lamp chains, and even exposed hinges. Drop a few dollars at the home improvement store and you could be walking into a very different looking room.
This is also a great way to incorporate trendy shapes or metallic elements without going for Baroque in your basement.
12. Install Recessed Lighting
There are a lot of directions you can go to brighten up a space. Recessed lighting is a solid option that creates a classy, diffuse glow throughout the room. It makes small spaces seem bigger and big spaces feel open to the sky. Once installed, this creates a very soft light that can also disguise minor imperfections in the basement’s paint and plaster.
13. Install Crown Molding
When your guests are kicked back on an oversized couch, relaxing, what will they see? Is it the slightly imperfect join between the wall and ceiling? Are there paint drips that didn’t get wiped up in time? Crown molding hides many secrets, creating a more luxurious and attractive line in the room.
Note: If you’re DIY-ing this, hammer carefully. These gracefully carved boards are delicate and can easily split on you.
14. Design a Raised Floor
One dilemma of big finished basements is that they can turn into cavernous, undefined spaces. You can visually break that up with tricks like furniture placement… or physically break it up with a raised floor. Simply create a shallow box out of 2X4s, top with plywood, and cover with your flooring of choice.
15. Install a Whole New Floor
Wait, why is this tip in the ‘easier than a full remodel’ section? No, you don’t need to have visions of ripping up your floor to the studs. If your floor looks are dated or scuffed but is otherwise in good shape, you can give it new life with high-end vinyl flooring.
This material has come a long way from the 70s and 80s. It’s available in a wide variety of patterns including marble, granite, and hardwoods. Some vinyl tiles are incredibly easy to install, just peel and stick. The cost here will vary, but you’ll probably be happier with the look and longevity of more expensive brands.
These key pieces can be a great long-term investment in your luxurious new basement area:
16. Install a Dehumidifier
It may not be sleek and sexy like a full-length marble-topped bar, but a dehumidifier is a must for many basements. Air that’s clean, dry, and free of unwanted earthy scents will make for a more welcoming space. This can also protect your new hardwood cabinets, that nice leather-upholstered chair, and your freshly painted walls.
17. Speaking of Bars…
A basement bar, or wet bar if you have a sink installed, is at the top of many homeowners’ wish lists. These can cost you thousands … or you can DIY it.
Move some cabinets into place. Invest in a few units with glass doors to display your collection of bottles. Do you have a mini-fridge hanging out in the garage? What about a locking cabinet for hard spirits? If you don’t, get a lock from your local hardware store and upgrade it.
18. Ditch the Switches
In this modern era, it seems like everything can be controlled by voice or by smartphone. You can upgrade your basement with ‘smart’ electronics, letting you turn on the lights before you even set foot on the stairs down. Other luxurious items on your wishlist might include:
- Goosing up the temperature
- Turning on the dehumidifier
- Switching on soft music from the basement sound system
These are all a simple command away, letting you tailor your basement experience without ever having to get to your feet.
19. Add Volume
If your basement has a home theater, this is a great opportunity to upgrade to surround sound. Bury the cords from the subwoofer and extra speakers under the new carpet you’re putting in. While you’re at it, streamline the room and angle furniture so attention is focused where it should be: on that sweet big screen you’ve set up.
20. Bring in Beauty
Big artwork is often associated with luxurious spaces. These plus-sized canvases also carry a high price tag. To make a big impact for less, try hanging up medium-sized pieces that are thematically related.
Thrift stores are always a good option, but why not go farther afield? Check out your local art college’s student showcase. Many of these students will make a series of related pieces, changing one element or technique at a time as they perfect their craft. You’ll be supporting a young artist and who knows? Your collection might become the early work of the next Picasso.
If you have the right skill set, along with some basic tools and materials lying around, you can add functionality and a ‘wow’ factor to your basement. These projects can generally be completed in the space of a few hours.
21. Nail the Design
Nailhead trim, like what you see along the arms and bottom of that couch above, is a growing trend in home decor. It’s also very easy to DIY. Get a box of trim tacks (they come in a variety of colors and finishes) and add them to furniture that needs a little visual interest.
Note: These tacks aren’t very long, so nail them into places where the upholstery runs close to the wood. Otherwise, it will come loose and poke the unlucky sitter.
22. Sew and Throw
Throw pillows let you add color, style, and high-end materials to your seating. They typically cost a fraction of reupholstering the couch. Best of all, if that style risk turns out to be a style fail, you can just donate them to a thrift store.
Tip: If you’re handy with a sewing machine, look for a local fabric supply store. You can get discounted scraps of expensive brocade, metallic fabrics, lace, raw silk, satin, etc. Turn these into quick pillowcases to upgrade your existing throw pillows.
23. Make a Wine Cellar
Their cooler, even temperatures and low levels of natural light make basements a great place to house your wine collection. However, you don’t need to spring for a custom-built wine cellar, especially if you have a more streamlined selection of vintages.
You can get inexpensive racks from stores like Ikea. Shelves like the one above are also a very straightforward project for DIY-minded people with a little time and a few planks of wood.
Note: This works just as well for displaying bottles from your favorite microbreweries.
24. DIY Mirrored Walls
Basements are often crying out for more light. Smaller spaces can feel especially tight when they’re on the dark side. One solution here is to think about setting up large mirrors in the space. A full mirrored wall is very chic. Too spendy for your tastes? Find a number of smaller mirrors at a thrift store and use them to create a mosaic.
25. Create Your Own Countertops
If your basement countertops are looking tired, why not give them a facelift with trendy butcher’s block? This material can be pricey if you spring for a custom installation. Instead, you can create your own with a saw, scraps of wood, and epoxy. Plan your pattern out ahead of time and you can create stunning results like above, only on a bigger scale.
Note: If you intend to be cooking or serving drinks on this countertop, seal it first. You don’t want spills to stain up your hard work.