You’ve got a large basement, but all that space is currently going to waste. There are a few things stored there, but you need living space more than you need storage. Whether you’re renting out a walkout basement apartment or creating an in-law style apartment, you’ve got some work ahead of you. These Basement Apartment Ideas will help you make the most of your space with a comfortable basement apartment.
1) Wide Windows
One major issue with a basement apartment is the lack of windows. If you have a walkout basement, you might have regular windows along one wall, but the rest of the basement will have short, tiny windows near the ceiling. If you can’t have full-height windows, try designing wide windows like these. This will help let in light to make the apartment more cheerful, and if the windows are low enough, you’ll have a bit of a view. This natural light will help make the basement feel more like home.
2) DIY Accent Wall
A basement apartment can be a dull place if you don’t design it properly. With short ceilings, lack of natural light, and few, if any, windows with a view, you can quickly start to feel sluggish or uncomfortable. An accent wall is an artistic way of brightening a space, even though you don’t have real light. Choose a cheerful and light color to brighten the room, and if you have natural lighting, make sure it can reflect on the accent wall paint. Use this guide to design an accent wall that fits your space and your needs.
3) DIY Lightbox Art
Light is one of the major problems with a basement apartment. There are probably a limited number of windows, so most of your lighting will be artificial. Add some extra light sources by building an LED lightbox like the one in this video. Choose artwork to put in it, and put light-up art in any room you choose. You can also use a similar method to make a fake window and feel like you’re in an upstairs apartment.
4) Bring In Nature and Light
Basements typically have limited natural light, but light isn’t the only thing they’re missing. A basement apartment can feel like an industrial space, with short ceilings, recessed light fixtures, and light or white walls to make the area feel bigger. While this makes the apartment feel roomier, it also makes it feel unnatural. This tapestry brings nature into the apartment with a forest scene, and the realistic image of light filtering through the trees makes it feel like there’s actually light shining through. Hang this in a room with little or no lighting to make the area feel more natural.
5) Use What You Already Have
If you’re still converting the basement into an apartment, you’re probably trying to figure out how to plumb the bathroom and kitchen without spending too much money. Bathrooms and kitchens can be expensive, as can adding new plumbing. The key is to tie into existing plumbing and make use of the space you have. For example, the bathroom in this picture was built around a plumbing stack. Since the toilet was right next to the stack for the upstairs plumbing, there was little plumbing to do, and they just had to cover the pipe up with drywall
Since you probably won’t have a lot of natural light coming into your basement apartment, you’ll need plenty of artificial light. Unfortunately, artificial light isn’t as healthy as natural lighting. Natural lighting allows people to be more productive and tends to put people in a better mood. You can mimic natural lighting by using a variety of artificial light sources, like this lamp from Amazon. This lamp has upward-angled lights, which makes it ideal for lighting from multiple directions. You can even choose between natural white, cold white, and warm white light, depending on the room the lamp is in.
7) Area Rug
Basement floors are cold. While your apartment will have finished floors, the cold of the basement floor can seep through. This is particularly true if the floors aren’t properly insulated, which is often the case in inexpensive renovations. Area rugs are an excellent way to keep your feet warm when you get out of bed or lounge around in bare feet. Place area rugs like this in cozy spaces like the living room and bedrooms to keep you warm, and make the area feel softer.
8) Brick Walls
You may be trying to hide the fact that the apartment is in a basement, but you can also choose to take advantage of that. Design an industrial space with brick walls like the one in this picture. You’ll want industrial style lighting or bare bulbs like the ones in the picture, though you’ll need more light than the image shows. You can still choose comfortable furniture, but avoid anything frilly to match the industrial look. Area rugs or carpet should be flat to fit the style, and because they’re easy to clean if your basement has had moisture problems.
9) Big Art
Basement apartments can be depressing. While some of your renovations will focus on making them more livable by bringing in more light and comforts like carpeting, a lot of what your apartment needs is bold decorating. Big artwork like this giant leaf print brings in nature, and the vibrant colors make the basement feel less depressing. While you probably won’t spend hours staring at the patterns in this leaf image, it’s presence will brighten any room considerably. Large wall art like this can serve a similar function to an accent wall, but at a fraction of the cost and effort.
10) Partially Exposed Ceilings
If your basement has low ceilings, you’ll want to make them feel higher if possible. While the ceilings are probably not low enough to hit your head one, the low height will be uncomfortable. Instead of focusing on gaining height by skimping on flooring, focus on making the ceilings look higher. One way to do this is to leave the ceiling beams exposed, like the ones in the picture. You can finish the spaces between the joists. If one gap is filled with plumbing, cover it, and make it look like one giant beam.
11) Reflective Privacy Glass
Any windows you have will be at or below ground level, meaning you’ll have very little privacy. You can keep curtains drawn all the time, but living without any natural light isn’t fun. Instead, get a 3D window film like this to keep people from seeing through the window. Light can still go through the glass, but nobody will be able to see through it. This does mean you won’t be able to see out, but this film reflects light in beautiful rainbow patterns that make up for the loss of an outside view.
12) Window Wells
The more natural light you can get in your basement apartment, the more comfortable it will be. One way to increase the amount of natural light is to install new windows using window wells. Windows wells let you install a window below ground by keeping the dirt away from the house in that spot. You can use them to add windows for light, and also to add an egress window to escape through in an emergency. Follow these step-by-step instructions to put in your own window wells.
13) DIY Floating Shelf
Basement apartments are often small. Even when they aren’t, they’re fitted into awkward spaces around utilities, and you’ll probably find that you want to make the most of your space. One way to do this, and give your basement a sleek, modern look at the same time is to put in floating shelves. These floating shelf brackets are heavy-duty, and you can mount them on a stud or brickwall. Encase them in wood shelving to bring a touch of nature without losing the neat floating shelf look.
14) Pressure-Treated Wood
If you’re just finishing your basement in anticipation of turning it into an apartment, you’ll want to use pressure-treated wood. If it’s partially finished, check to make sure it’s done right, You don’t want renters or insurance companies coming after you later. This article goes over the requirements for pressure-treated wood, so you can make sure your basement is framed correctly. Also, make sure that the framing doesn’t touch concrete walls. A small gap keeps moisture from accumulating on the walls and causing mold.
15) DIY Decorations With Lights
When you start looking for decorations, you’ll want bright decorations that combat the lack of natural light, low ceilings, or any other basement features that cause you trouble. Try using lights as decorations, as a decorator did in this picture. You can focus on an industrial style like this, or even put LED light decorations in bedrooms. You can plan to use the lights as decorations only, or make lights that happen to be decorations. Don’t use the decorations as the main lighting for your room, though, since you’ll want light from multiple sources to mimic natural lighting.
16) Insulate Walls and Floors
Basements are cold, and if you’re not careful, your electric bill will increase dramatically. Without proper insulation, your apartment will be cold no matter what, so make sure the walls and floor are properly insulated. Use this article as a guide to choose the best insulation method for your floor and walls, and stop cold from leaking through the foundation into your apartment. While you don’t have to use the most expensive materials, using high-quality materials will benefit you in the long run as you spend less money on heating.
17) DIY Rustic Lamp Shade
A lot of the tricks that make a basement feel bigger also make it feel less homelike and more industrial. Add rustic or homemade decorations like this lampshade to make the apartment feel more like a home and less like a basement or warehouse. The lamp shade’s unique design and straw color give it a warm look that would match a rustic living room design. Use this with straw-colored paint to lighten the room and give it all a rustic look. This DIY project doesn’t take much skill, and you can easily find the materials in any ranch supply store.
18) Insulate Ceiling
Should you insulate the basement ceiling? You’re probably worried about keeping the cold from the concrete foundation out of your apartment, but what about keeping the heat in? Insulating your basement ceiling can keep heat in and soundproof it, but it can also reduce airflow and increase the chances of mold problems. Read this article to learn about the pros and cons of insulating your basement apartment’s ceiling, and decide whether you want to insulate your ceiling, or just your walls and floor.
19) Recessed Lights
If your basement has a low ceiling, you don’t want to do anything that will take up more height. While you can leave the ceiling open, a lot of people prefer a flat ceiling, and you won’t be able to soundproof and insulate a ceiling unless you cover it. When you add your lightning, avoid pendant lighting or semi-flush fixtures that hang down from the ceiling. Instead, use recessed light fixtures like these. The lights recess into the ceiling, so they don’t take up any extra ceiling height, and they’re damp-rated for basements with a moisture problem.
20) Industrial Wall Shelves
An industrial style works well for a loft or basement since those spaces are naturally sparse. In this case, you can add plenty of decorations, but you’ll still have artificial lighting that lends itself to the industrial feeling and style. Watch this video from The rehab Life to learn how to build your own floor-to-ceiling industrial shelves. These would make excellent bookshelves for a library or living room, and you can use similar methods to make matching shelves in all your rooms.
21) Carpet Tiles
Basement floors tend to get cold, and if you like to walk around barefoot, you’ll want to cover the floors with carpet. If you’re renting out the basement apartment, carpet is always a good selling point with renters. These carpet tiles from The Home Depot can be installed over almost any surface, including concrete or some other floors. They are breathable to keep moisture from getting trapped, and work well in any areas with moisture problems. Hopefully, you’ve resolved any moisture issues, but if you’re unsure, it’s nice to have a carpet that won’t mildew easily.
If you’ve had moisture problems in the past, but you’re not sure they’re resolved, a dehumidifier is an excellent way to keep moisture down. Even if there aren’t leaks, you don’t want an apartment with too much moisture in the air to cause mold and mildew. This dehumidifier is designed for large rooms and basements, and can easily handle almost any basement apartment. It has energy-saving features that will keep your electric bill down, while still keeping your air clean and dry.
23) White and Light Colors
Light colors make spaces look bigger and can lighten your mood. This is particularly important in a place like a basement apartment that has little light. Use this white paint on your ceiling to make it look taller and make the apartment feel less claustrophobic, and paint the walls in light colors for a similar effect. You can paint the walls white, but a light color may be better, so you have some color in what could otherwise be a stark and uninviting apartment.
24) Cabinets With Glass
Glass and mirrors are your friends when you’re decorating a space with limited lighting. When you look for kitchen cabinets or display cabinets, get ones with a glass front like this one. The glass will naturally reflect light to brighten the room and create a mirror effect that will make the room look larger. This is great for a small basement apartment and rooms with less natural light. You can even add reflective films to help the glass bounce light around the apartment.
25) Subway Tile
Instead of hiding the fact that this apartment is in a basement, embrace the underground theme with subway tiles. This subway tile backsplash is a beautiful choice for a kitchen backsplash or bathroom tiles. You can use it over large areas, and the reflective white surface will make any room seem brighter. If you have a lot of artificial light in the room, make sure it’s dimmable, or the white tile could be too much. Dimmable lights are particularly important in a small room like a bathroom.
What’ve you done in your basement apartment? Have you found any ideas we could’ve added? Let us know in the comments below.