10 Budget-Friendly Ways to Make Your Basement More Livable

So you’ve got a huge basement but not much money to finish or remodel the space. Don’t let that stop you! Even with a small budget, there’s a ton of simple changes you can start making to turn that dreary basement into a place everyone is going to want to hang out. Whether you’re starting from scratch or simply looking for ways to spruce up the space, consider these tips for transforming your basement into an oasis you’ll actually go to for more than just doing the laundry.

1. Cover the Floor

Most unfinished basements probably have cool cement flooring, which can really put a damper on making a space feel homey. Rather than shelling out the bucks to add carpet or new flooring, area rugs are a much cheaper option. If you’re turning the basement into a TV room or play area for the kids, a large area rug or a few smaller ones can keep those toes warm while adding some nice pops of color.

2. Plants

Many plants naturally clean the air in your home, filtering out harmful VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) found in cleaners, carpet, furniture, and dyes. Plants are also known to relax and reenergize—and you don’t necessarily need bright sunlight for a plant to thrive. Try a no-fuss plant such as a ZZ plant, which can do well even if it only has a fluorescent light. A cast iron plant actually thrives on neglect. Or opt for the more-common snake plant, which is known for filtering formaldehyde (commonly found in tissue and cleaning products) out of the air.

3. Less Clutter

Channel your inner Marie Kondo and consider purging (and donating) the old stuff you know won’t be coming out of hiding anytime soon. For holiday decorations and other necessities, purchase some reusable plastic tubs to keep everything dry and neatly tucked away. If your budget allows, a shelf with some baskets would be great for organizing toys and smaller items. By keeping all your extra boxes and equipment in one place, the rest of the basement will feel more open and will keep clutter from getting out of hand.

4. Keep It Dry

What’s one of the first things that comes to mind when you hear the word basement might? If it’s damp and humid, you’re right. People feel most comfortable in their home when humidity levels are between 30% and 50%. Enter the dehumidifier. Invest in a good dehumidifier to remove extra moisture, musty odors, and that unpleasant feeling that comes with too much humidity. Dehumidifiers also keep mold and mildew at bay, which decreases symptoms of asthma and allergies. Some dehumidifiers, such as the EZ Breathe System, not only removes moisture and musty odors, but also cleans and circulates the air in your basement.

5. Embrace the Exposed Ceiling

Sure, you might think a drywall ceiling would help make your space look more livable, but that industrial look is totally in. Rather than spending money on covering it, leave it exposed and consider giving it a coat of paint. To make it camouflage with your space, paint it the same color as your walls. Or for a sleek look that can help mask imperfections, try going for black or a dark color.

6. Add Egress Windows

If you don’t have a walkout basement or no windows, let some light in by adding an egress window (or door). Egress literally means “a path out,” which means the window will be large enough for humans to enter and leave. Egress windows are especially important if you’re considering using the basement as a living space and required by some building codes. So not only will adding an egress window allow some sun in your dark, dreary basement, it will create a safe exit out in case of an emergency.

7. Wall Art

Just because the walls aren’t finished doesn’t mean you have to leave them bare. Adding a painting, photograph, or colorful piece of wall art to your basement spruces up an otherwise gray and drab concrete wall. Hang a bulletin board (covered in fabric for more color) and make it a place to post your favorite family photos or the latest drawing by the kids.

8. Comfortable Furniture

Couches aren’t cheap, but if you have an extra sofa after upgrading your living room furniture or some cozy chairs to spare, put them in the basement. Along with those area rugs, your basement could be the ultimate place to wind-down spot. If you want to be even more fancy, add a small mini bar to enjoy a drink while you read or watch TV.

9. Utilize Lamps

Instead of relying on the pull-cord lights or stagnant fluorescents that make you feel like you’re in a hospital, supplement with a variety of lamps. Lucky for you, a trip to your local thrift shop will likely have a slew of affordable options that can be easily updated with a new lampshade.

10. Keep Pests at Bay

Basements and bugs seem to go hand in hand. Doing some of the other tips on this list such as waterproofing and keeping the area dry is an easy way to make your basement less attractive to pests. Be sure to help prevent any unnecessary moisture (and therefore, bugs) from entering the house by making sure to inspect and repair any cracks or crevices on the outside of your home. And if you don’t already, be sure to install a door sweep so pests can’t come in under the door.

By Katlyn Moncada

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