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finished basement sewell new jersey

Finished Basement Design Ideas to Take Your Lower Level to the Next Level

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:

  1. They can significantly increase the useful living space in your home
  2. They add serious value on the resale market (average of 70% return on investment)
  3. 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.

mickleton new jersey basement finishing

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).

Walk-out basement

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.

finished basement cubby under stairs

What can I do with my basement?

Smarter storage

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. 

Undistracted work

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!

Uninhibited play

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. 

South Jersey Basement Remodel

Designing a Winning At-Home Sports Bar

You’re ready for some football, but is your home? Win big with your guests on game day with an optimized entertainment space. Creating an at-home sports bar, either as a patio feature or part of an indoor man cave, is a great way to enjoy time at home and save money on Saturdays and Sundays. Before beginning, however, it pays to have a gameplan.

South Jersey Basement Renovations

Indoor or outdoor?

In late summer and into early autumn, you can use an outdoor bar to replicate a bonafide tailgating experience. The elements are always in play in New Jersey, so ensure the bar is covered with a canopy, extended ceiling, roof overhang, or awning. Televisions or monitors should either be of the outdoor variety or shielded with an outdoor covering. Lighting should amply illuminate the primary task areas of the bar (preparation, serving, and clean-up) and assist with navigation as the days grow shorter. A firepit or space heaters might be incorporated into the patio to help stave off the chill at nightfall. 

For year-round versatility, consider converting an unfinished basement into a finished entertainment area or man cave. The availability of water and electrical lines should be the first consideration when designing a finished basement — altering or adding plumbing or wiring can be costly, so try to work with what you have if you can. Make fellow fans feel at home while providing the best view of the action with comfortable open seating arrangements. Well-positioned speakers and surround sound work wonderfully in basements, in part due to their natural sound-dampening characteristics, but soundproofed materials might be a good idea if not everyone in your house is as into the game as you are. 

Dry bar or wet bar? 

The difference between a dry bar and a wet bar is the availability of running water. If your bar is going to be easily accessible from or attached to a kitchen, a sink may not be necessary. An integrated refrigeration cabinet or closet allows you to store a wider variety of perishable ingredients, as well as stow beers for quick handoffs rather than long jaunts to the nearest refrigerator. For barkeepers who want to really go the distance, leaving room for a home draft beer system such a kegerator might be a wise move. 

What materials will I be using?

For the bar’s framing and structure, construction lumber, oriented stand board sheeting, and plywood provide sturdiness and integrity. Treated lumber or composite materials are advised for outdoor bars to resist moisture and weathering. For aesthetics, trim your bar with hardwood fascia. Countertop workspaces should be resilient and easy to clean — granite, marble, tile, and laminated hardwood or plywood are popular examples.

South Jersey Basement Renovations

The best seats in the house

Your bar stools need to:

  • Complement the decor and be comfortable to sit in for hours at a time
  • Be positioned to correct height (28 to 33 inches from the floor, with 9 to 12 inches left for leg space under the counter)
  • Offer clear sightlines to the action — do not place behind obstructions and keep level with the monitor or screen. If the TV is not behind the bar, swiveling bar stools are a must.

Take time to incorporate these design tips into your at-home sports bar plans and you’ll be sure to ring up the score with visitors. And remember, Ayars Complete Home Improvements is always game to help out with your next patio or finished basement project. 

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