We’re going to be perfectly aboveground with you on this — that partially or fully finished basement you’ve been getting ideas about is fully in your best interest.
If you missed our blog post about the benefits of finished basements, here are the three main takeaways:
- They can significantly increase the useful living space in your home
- They add serious value on the resale market (average of 70% return on investment)
- Hanging out there can actually help you save on energy costs — ground temperature is not as susceptible to the ups and downs as the air is, which means you do not have to expend as much energy keeping it cool in the summer or warm in the winter.
Finishing a basement is almost always less disruptive (and expensive) than constructing a home addition, which is a major consideration if you live with family or work from home. Furthermore, there are nearly as many finished basement design ideas.
What kind of basement do you have?
Before you dream up and scheme up your newly finished basement, you must assess what you’re working with — and that’s dependent on how the foundation sits within your property.
Standard lot basement
As its name implies, a standard lot basement is just that — standard. It’s your typical set of concrete walls buried underground, with narrow horizontal windows peeking up into the yard or driveway. They are not known for being light or airy, but you can use that to your advantage, creating a secluded space away from distractions (or judgment).
A much coveted feature with today’s homebuyers, walk-out basements allow you to step right out into a backyard or onto a patio and get some fresh air. They have a lot of qualities in common with the main floor, and in some cases are counted towards your home’s total square footage. They are associated with properties with a slope of at least 6 feet from front to back. You’ll often see elevated decks attached to these types of homes as well.
Garden-level lot basement
Garden-level lots are the middle ground — due to a gentle slope, some of the basement will be poking out above grade, while some of it will be totally underground. While it will receive more natural light than a standard-lot basement, there is not enough clearance for a full-sized door for egress.
What can I do with my basement?
Yes, we know basements have the reputation of being these dark voids into which things are thrown and never return. By incorporating a few organizational features into your finished basement design, you can still retain its traditional storage function while attaining a much cleaner and more attractive aesthetic. You might mount shelving onto the walls or into the walls, utilize a storage bench or ottoman to serve double duty as seating, or even tuck a cozy little cubby under the stairs, as we did in a recent project near Mantua Township, New Jersey.
Need more space to get things done? Secluded and removed from the bustle of the main floor plan, finished basements make for excellent home offices, studios, or gyms. To further your focus, you might invest in a bit of soundproofing. There are several effective materials at dampening sound, from blown insulation and acoustic foam tiles to sound absorbing blankets and soundproof underlayment.
The best solution for you depends on how much you’re willing to tear things up (for example underlayment requires removing existing main level flooring) and how much privacy you require. Are you after a true fortress of solitude, or do you need to just dial down the volume a bit? If you (or an in-law) really need to disappear for a bit, it may be a good idea to add an extra bathroom, bedroom, or even kitchen to your finished basement. They can fulfill the role of a completely functional studio apartment!
As good as a finished basement is for working, they may be even better for play. Think a playroom or arcade for the kids (or grown-ups), a home theater, a man cave to let your inner sports fanatic free, a band practice space — you’ll have so much room for activities, no matter what your favorite indoor pastime is.
Finished basements are among our favorite project types at Ayars Complete Home Improvements — there are few things more satisfying than transforming an ugly, underutilized dungeon into a truly indispensable part of your home and your life that you can be proud of. Let us know about your basement design ideas — we’d love to help make it a reality.