When you buy a house, the basement usually seems like an afterthought. It is usually looked at as “storage space” and little more. Hover, you may be neglecting hundreds of square feet of usable floor space. With this said, I want to give you a few simple ways you can fix up your basement and make it a more pleasant/ functional space.
Paint the Walls: For the most art, basement’s are not welcoming places. Gray cement foundations make you feel like you are in a construction site, cinder block makes you feel like you are in a school or low budget commercial building, and if you have a stone foundation you can feel like you are still in the 1800s. However DryLok has a great cement paint that can be colored the same way paint can. Yes, the color range is limited, but white, beige or blue can be more welcoming than cement gray. This is especially appealing if your basement doesn’t have a uniformed color walls. Keep in mind DryLok has the consistency of warm pudding, which can be tough to apply the same way you would a semi gloss. You will need more, but it will also keep moisture out of the basement, deterring mold. A gallon covers about 500 square feet, or about 60 linear feet.
Cost: A gallon of Drylock will cover between 75 and 100 square feet, or around 8 linear feet. A 5 gallon bucket costs about $100.
Paint the floor: There are tons of companies out there which make concrete stains which can brighten up your basement floor. Rustoleum Epoxy Sheild is a great product designed for garage floors, but the application to basement floors is the same. Just be sure to use a chemical concrete etcher on the floor to be sure the stain adheres to the floor. Otherwise you may wind up getting chips in the finish later. This product can give your basement a showroom finish, and will give the impression of a laminate floor.
Cost: Coverage for floors is about 250 square feet per kit, at $100 a kit. Most basements will need two or three kits. Cheaper options are out there if you buy the items separately.
Build Shelves/ Walls: No matter what people say, it seems as though there is no way to avoid turning the basement into a storage space. The Giant rubber-maid container of winter clothes and heavy blankets take up too much space in your linen closet and it is just as easy to keep it in the basement the 8 months out of the year you don’t need them. However having them in a pile against the wall is tacky, and will keep you from wanting to use you basement. So the answer is organizing them on shelves, or even better, building a closet to put things away. For the cost of some 2x3s, a few sheets of sheetrock and a simple bulb light you can build a basement walk in closet. Making a few shelfs out of Particle board is easy enough as well. Plus, now you have a place for everything from winter clothes, snow tires, beach gear, or even can goods that don’t detract from the rest of your basement. Just remember if you may need to get a building permit for this permit, especially if you put electrical in.
Cost: This will depend on the size of the closet you make. A 4′ x 8′ foot wall with no electrical and drywall on both sides will cost about $40. Four 2′ x ‘8 foot shelves will cost around $50. (1 sheet plywood cut into 4 strips, 8 2′ x 3’ supports, plus screws.)
At-Home Gym: We have all seen it. We have that one buddy who has the hybrid NordicTrak/Laundry hamper in their bedroom. It was bought with the best of intentions, but now it is just another thing that he stubs his toes on. There are people like this everywhere, so browsing garage sales can let you buy your own home gym on the cheap. To find a bench press, some fee weights and a cardio machine is all you need to start out. Now when you don’t feel like driving 15 minutes and showering in front of other men, you can just walk downstairs. It will also save you an extra $20 a month if you decide to forgo the membership altogether.
Cost: Depends on how much you are willing to search tag sales, Craigslist and Ebay. You can realistically get a old treadmill and a weight bench for about $200 if you really dig.
Workshop: I don’t think many people have to stretch their imagination to realize I have a pretty good sized collection of tools. What I don’t have is an effective way to organize them. All I have to do is buy some 2″x 3″s and a sheet of pegboard to fix it. Now all you have to do is buy the hooks for it.
Cost: A pegboard will cost around $100 ($25 for the 4 ‘x 8’ pegboard, $15 for the 2x3s, and $56 for the hooks.). From there, either buying or building a simple bench is will run you another hundred dollars. (Here is a great link to a simple 8 foot long bench.)
Professional Laundry Room: Many of us have our washer/ dryer hook ups in the basement. Now while the cost of appliances is up there, supplementing you laundry area with storage and space to do ironing, spot removal and folding is a great call. Buy a cheap dresser or cabinets from tag sales or from an online bargain site and now you suddenly have more storage space and a flat surface to fold larger items like bed sheets. it The drawers will also provide a space for you to keep things you don’t use all the time. (Think winter.summer clothes.) Using a piece of 1″ brass pipe, mounted to the ceiling, will give you a place to dry clothes that you don’t want to put in the dryer (like dress shirts).
“Bomb Shelter”: No, I do not mean fortifying your basement from the red menace, but instead just setting up a place where you can store items you bought in bulk. Non perishable items like canned goods, and slightly less perishable items (like mayonnaise, salad dressing, and pasta) are cheaper when you simply wait until the go on sale or simply buy them from a warehouse store. Simply buying a commercial grade free standing shelving unit can cost about $100 dollars, but what you eventually save in food by only buying canned corn when it is on sale could make that back fairly quickly.
Cost: Depends on the shelving unit, but you can buy a 6′ x’ 4′ x 2′ shelving unit for $77.97.
Smoking Room: I love cigars, but many of my female guest don’t share my enthusiasm for a decent smoke, or the smell that lingers in your living room furniture. Turning your basement into a space where you can spend a Sunday with some Sinatra and a smoke is a great call. For this you don’t need much more than a chair and a way to ventilate the air out of the house. You can build walls if you like to isolate the smoke if your significant other complains about the smell. For this you can go a crazy or as simple as your want. A couple of lawn chairs with an end table in between them for an ashtray may be enough. Or you can buy leather chairs, a plasma TV and a high end sound system. How crazy you go will depend on you.