If you're looking for ways to add square footage to your home and have a basement, check out these tips before you get started.
Make a Family or Rec Room
Basements are ideal for casual social activities and it's the perfect spot for family activities be it crafting, watching movies, playing board games, etc. One of the biggest challenges will be lighting. Make sure to plan ahead where key activities will take place and make sure you have the necessary electrical and lighting in place before you finish the walls and ceiling.
Include a Bedroom and Bath
If you frequently host out of town guests, why not make a space just for them? If you do decide to go this route, make sure you have enough square footage to accommodate the amenities. For instance, a double bed will require a minimum of 125 square feet and two twin beds will need 150 square feet. Keep in mind that you have also need to include an emergency exit (window or door) that leads directly outside to be in compliance with building codes.
Add a Kitchen or Laundry Room
A wet bar or mini kitchen in the basement makes entertaining much easier. The inclusion of a mini kitchen makes a basement with a bed and bath into an entire guest suite. A kitchen requires access to hot and cold water, as well as electrical outlets for an undercounter refrigerator, a microwave oven, small countertop appliances, and possibly a small dishwasher or dishwasher drawer. A laundry room is a good idea in the basement, but it needs a floor drain and access to an outside wall to vent the dryer.
Design an Attractive and Safe Staircase
You already have stairs that lead to the basement, but when you're remodeling, make sure they meet code AND look good. Codes vary with staircase configurations and baluster shape, so you'll want to talk to a pro about your plans.
Plan for Windows and Doors
Adding or enlarging basement windows and exterior doors are jobs best done by a professional, but the resulting natural light and ventilation will significantly increase your enjoyment of this living space. Be sure to have a professional consult with you on this to make sure the proper materials are used and so that the necessary bracing is in place.
Finish the Walls for Inviting Ambiance
Your basement need not look rough with the poured concrete or stacked concrete block look. Unless you're going for that particular style, finishing the walls with drywall, plywood, paneling, or even paint will help give the space a more inviting feel. Be sure to consult with a professional on the proper moisture barriers and materials/adhesives to use.
Don't Forget the Ceiling!
You have three basic options for finishing basement ceilings. You can conceal the joists, pipes and ductwork with drywall or paneling, hide everything with a suspended or drop ceiling, or you can leave everything exposed and paint it with a sprayer. Whichever option you choose, plan ahead to make sure it will complement the rest of your space design, and make sure you have the height needed, especially if you opt for a drop ceiling.
Choose Comfortable, Practical Flooring
Unless you install a plywood subfloor, your basement floor is likely to be a concrete slab. Fortunately, concrete accepts most common flooring choices, from paint to vinyl, laminate, tile and carpet. We typically don't recommend solid wood flooring because of the potential for gaps or warping. If you really want that wood look we suggest engineered wood as it shrinks and expands a little less.
Make Lighting A Priority
A good lighting plan is key to making your basement more inviting and enjoyable. Recessed can lights are the most popular option but you can also consider track lights and pendants to highlight your work surfaces. Round things out with table and floor lamps.
Build in Storage
The basement is often a catchall storage space for everything from garden equipment to out-of-season clothes, holiday decorations, and memorabilia. As you remodel to make the most of your basement's square footage, plan for attractive, well-designed storage, too. For instance, think about the space under the stairs and built-ins along a key feature wall.