How to Turn a Creepy Basement Into a Cozy Family Room

How to Turn a Creepy Basement Into a Cozy Family Room

Basement remodeling ideas to make your space more functional

By Larry Ray Palmer

Basement with Sectional Couch, Bar and Pool Table
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If your basement is dry, there simply is no reason not to make use of the basement. Millions of home owners waste a large portion of their home's living area because their families just don't feel comfortable in this space. Basements generally become catch-all storage bins, and this practice can invite unwanted pests, such as spiders and mice, into your home. A few simple additions can turn a creepy basement into a comfortable area of your home that your family can enjoy.

  • What You Need to Know
  • While there are many things a homeowner can do to easily convert a basement into a homey family room, there are also some things that are not so easy. These include plumbing and electrical wiring, which you may need if you don't have working lights or running water down there.

Step 1:

Finish the basement. No one likes to look at ugly concrete walls. Unfinished basements are known for being cold, dank portions of the home that very few people spend any significant amount of time in. By adding a moisture barrier and framing to the existing concrete walls, you can install drywall and give your basement a more comfortable feeling. Adding a layer of insulation during the process of framing and drywalling will also help to make the new living space more comfortable and energy efficient.

Step 2:

Add water. In many homes, the basement is the largest unencumbered area. This is convenient if you want a huge playroom for your family. The downside is that no one wants to get up during her favorite movie and run up the stairs to get a drink or use the bathroom. If your home is configured to allow the installation of a bathroom and a small wet bar or kitchenette in the basement, these are options that are well worth the investment. These little extras will make the new family room seem more inviting. As an added bonus, the installation of bathroom and kitchen facilities will allow your family a more comfortable experience when seeking shelter during times of severe weather.

Step 3:

Power it up. If you plan to use your basement as a family room, you want to make sure you have plenty of power to run the things your family enjoys. Installing extra outlets and lights is a simple way to make sure your family has enough light to read their favorite books and enough power to run the television and the DVD player at the same time. If you have an idea of where you plan to situate your electronic devices, like televisions and computers, install extra electrical outlets or surge-protected power strips in these locations. When you are adding extra outlets and lighting, keep the issue of electrical codes and safety in mind. If you intend to power your family room using 15-amp circuits, one of the more common circuit breaker sizes, then you can safely install no more than eight duplex outlets or lighting fixtures per circuit. Since circuit breakers are designed to handle up to 80 percent of their load rating continuously without tripping, exceeding the load of the circuit will result in both a safety issue and a major annoyance factor as you stumble through the dark and fumble through your circuit breaker box to find the one that has been tripped.

Step 4:

Put up privacy curtains on a ceiling-mounted track to help divide the room into separate spaces. The spaciousness of a wide open basement can give it a cold, empty feel. Segmenting your space will allow you to create a multi-functional basement with a separate office space, living room, storage area, etc.

Step 5:

Lighting has perhaps the biggest impact on making your basement less creepy. Basements often seem like a cave because of their lack of natural lighting. If you are fortunate to have a window or two, be sure to use window treatments that capitalize on the sunlight. Otherwise, install recessed lighting and sconces to add brightness. Recessed lights can be placed over high-traffic areas to give a lot of light without taking up basement headroom. Don't forget to paint the walls a light color, in order to capitalize on the lighting you have.

  • Tips & Warnings
  • Always consult your local codes and ordinances before attempting any remodeling project.
  • Some of the elements of remodeling a basement, such as wiring new electrical circuits, can be extremely dangerous. If you are not a qualified electrician, hiring someone who is may save you both your money and your life.
  • Check with your local Better Business Bureau to determine if the plumber or electrician you plan to hire has any complaints against him.

About the Author

Larry Ray Palmer is a contributor to

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