Taking advantage of the space in your home’s lower level by doing basement finishing is a good alternative to completing a home addition because you don’t have to allocate budget to digging a foundation or for a roof extension. Remember that when remodeling a basement, you don’t have to “finish” the entire area; it’s always a good idea to leave some space for the storage of tools, seasonal home décor, and other miscellaneous items you may have stashed in crates or boxes.
What to Include in Your Basement Space
The overall design of your lower level depends on how the space will be utilized. Once this has been determined, Callen designers will be able to efficiently create a space in which you can incorporate your preferred furniture and decor, such as a queen-size bed, a game table, or a bar. They’ll also make sure everything is sized accordingly so there won’t be any wasted space.
You can make your home’s lower level into anything you want it to be: a home office, playroom for the kids, media room, craft room, kitchen, guest bedroom, or an all-encompassing living space that can incorporate all of the above.
A bathroom and a bar area are amenities that are commonly requested in a lower-level remodel.
Lower-level bathrooms are evolving from spaces with two-piece fixtures to those that include a shower or steam shower, especially if there’s a bedroom nearby. Bars can run the gamut from small service bars or snack stations to spaces that resemble the corner tavern.
Fireplaces are a nice feature to add as well, and they can now be directly vented. Years ago, there were concerns about make-up air because the furnace and hot water heater had exposed flames. This isn’t as much of a concern now with sealed combustion units; however, make-up air is still required by code when an unfinished lower level is made into a living space. Make-up air is also necessary to prevent the air from becoming stale and to dissipate any volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Cabinetry, Flooring & Lighting Options
There are many cabinetry options available for lower-level kitchens and bathrooms, depending on budget and how the area will be used. Flooring choices are also varied. Carpeting is very popular; it’s usually less costly and is also soft and warm. Laminates can be used as well, as long as there’s a substrate so moisture doesn’t affect it.
When you do a lower-level remodel, no matter what you’ll be using it for, you want a nice, smooth transition from the main floor living area. Opening up a staircase and putting in balustrades and handrails will make the lower level feel more like the upstairs.
One of the most important things to consider when doing a lower-level conversion is how to bring in as much natural light as possible. This can be done by enlarging windows to egress windows. Egress is also required if you add a bedroom as part of the project.
Because ceilings are a bit lower in the basement, halogen lighting isn’t recommended because you’ll feel the heat when you’re under them. Instead, go for four-inch LED lighting. The fixtures are slightly more expensive to install, but they have a long shelf life – as much as 50,000 hours. While recessed lighting certainly can brighten the space, adding pendants over the snack or service bar is a great way to make a statement. Sconces, crown lighting, down lights, and rope lighting are other lighting accessories that will add a bit of flair and warmth to the space.
Dropped Ceilings & I-Beams
The basement “rec rooms” that many of us grew up with featured drop ceilings. Now drywalling is preferred, not only for a more finished look, but because it makes the room an extension of the main level living area. However, some homeowners who are worried about having access to mechanicals still request dropped ceilings. At Callen, we accomplish access to mechanicals in different ways and disguise them so you can’t even tell the access panel is there.
With a lower level, you can’t avoid I-beams. Depending on the layout, contractors can try to build them into the wall. This isn’t always possible, though, so the I-beam is often disguised by turning it into a column. The furnace and hot water heater can be worked around or relocated if necessary.
Call Callen Today to Learn More
At Callen Construction, our design consultants can help with your dream basement remodeling project. We’re ready to create the perfect lower-level space to fit your needs. Call Callen at 414-765-2585 or reach out online to get started.