Planning your basement transformation

Planning on doing a basement renovation this summer? Whether you plan to transform your basement into an office, bedroom, kitchen or family room, here are some basics you should consider before starting the work:

Have a master plan – Is your space big or small? Tall or low ceilings? Do you need a second or third bathroom in your basement? Laundry facilities? A temperature-controlled wine cellar? Figure out what you need and use the plan to guide you.

Ceilings – Consider a suspended or dropped ceiling if your basement is high enough. That way you can access the plumbing, electrical wiring and other guts of the home that are often hidden in basements. Ceiling tiles were once quite unattractive but today come in a variety of colours, textures, and styles such as tin and beadboard.

Flooring – Since basements are prone to moisture and leaks, be sure to install a sub-floor. The space between the sub-floor and the existing floor acts as a barrier to moisture problems. The rest depends really on your budget and usage. If the room is a shrine to your big-screen TV, you may want to carpet it for cosy nights by the telly. A home gym might lend itself more to concrete, ceramic or vinyl tile, though those options will mean a cold floor. Laminate and hardwood are considerations for basements with little or no moisture issues. Know that moisture will destroy laminate and volatile humidity levels are not good for hardwood.

Lighting – Since many basements have few or no windows, lighting is an important consideration in your overall design. Try to maximize your use of natural lighting so don’t cover windows with heavy drapes. Let the sunshine in as much as you can. Recessed lighting is a great option if you have a dropped ceiling. They offer bright, concentrated light to any area and take up very little space so they’re perfect for lower ceilings. Throw in some ambient lighting and you’re good to go.

Insulate – Come winter you’ll be thrilled that you spent the extra money insulating your basement. Doing so not only keeps the whole house warmer, it saves you money on your energy bills.

Storage – Don’t forget this important function. Add as much storage as you can. Consider the space under the stairs or built-in closets and cupboards.

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