5 Tips For Decorating Your Small Basement

Back in the post-war era, basements could be anything from rec rooms to bomb shelters and laundry rooms. You'd put the pets there when leaving for the day, play ping-pong and darts with family members, and marvel at how well cinder block transports and holds moisture from the outdoors. Some were impossibly humid in the summer and invariably drafty at other times, veering wildly from frostbite cold to boiler-room hot during the winters.

Not so anymore. Over time, most basements have been remodeled to become an integral part of the home and are no longer simply storage catch-alls or the place where old furniture goes to die. Of course, no one gets a thrill out of spending time in a dank, musky, and poorly lit environment. So, when remodeling or renovating your basement, make sure to handle the basics of heating, cooling, and lighting before starting to consider how to add all the frills that come with creative décor.

Floors and ceilings are a part of that equation, too. According to GJ MacRae Foundation Repair, the idea here is to repurpose your basement, not to be reminded that you're in one. How you decorate your space will likely have everything to do with what's either missing upstairs or what you might want more of in terms of rooms.

Guest bedroom

When hosting overnight guests, one of the best ways to ensure privacy and tranquility is to offer them their own separate bedrooms. Indeed, even people who love company reach a point where things become wearing. When will they wake up? Do you dare use the coffee grinder? And who gets access to the bathroom (when and for how long)? But say you can't offer a separate wing of your manor. Then putting them up in the basement guest room makes good sense.

If there isn't one already — and you can spare the expense — consider adding a two- or three-piece bathroom and mini refrigerator downstairs. Not doable? Then you'll at least want to paint the walls and/or add some lighting, like floor lamps, according to the designers at Supernova Furniture. And because you never know who you'll be entertaining overnight, it's best to keep the décor muted. While college friends might not mind sleeping underneath "Star Wars" sheets and Harry Styles posters, older relatives might.

A set-up like this can also provide an escape for people already under your roof. For example, someone with a cold might prefer to sleep on a couch or futon that converts to a bed. It's also ideal for a sewing room or yoga. Just remember, says The Habitat, to pay special attention to the lighting in order to keep the vibe cozy rather than creepy.

Basement office

As so many learned during the pandemic, finding space to work when the kids are running around — and sanity is in short supply — is no easy feat. That's where having a small office comes in handy. These days, with the ability to store files in the cloud, you can take the smallest room and convert it into an office that's both functional and comfortable.

Of course, with basements being below ground level, they're often a little more insulated compared to other parts of the house. But if this space doesn't have windows, there's a possibility you'll feel imprisoned rather than on the clock. That's why Egress Windows suggests installing a window not only for airflow and sunlight, but also to not feel gloomy.

Rather than installing windows, there are less expensive workarounds, including lamps to offer more light, mirrors to provide the illusion of more space, and photos or nature murals for an enhanced design aesthetic. You'd be surprised how cheery a room looks when a mural shows a dock on the water with snow-capped mountains on the far shore.

In other words, everything in this space should contribute to giving you greater peace of mind to focus on the tasks at hand. It's your opportunity to create the boss-free office of your dreams.

Home gym

Any gym-goers fume when seeing someone walk away from the equipment they intended to use next without first wiping it down. Indeed, it comes with the territory, much like waiting for machines or watching another member grab the 30-pound weights you were just about to use.

But none of that happens with your own basement gym. What's more, you don't have to drive to work out, nor should there be any excuse not to hop downstairs and watch a movie while spinning or stepping the calories away. Smaller basements are something of a blessing, too, because everything is within reach.

Will you have room for an elliptical, a stationary bike, or a stair climber? The folks at Budget Dumpster contend space shouldn't be an issue. Most of us won't need more than 7 feet of clearance to lift a weight overhead. And if you're watching your wallet, professional gyms are always upgrading — and thereby charging members more in order to lure new clients — so buying used equipment means savings on everything from lockers to barbells and cardio machines.

Looking to transform an unfinished basement into an at-home gym for less than $100? Lovely Etc. developed a checklist that includes everything from paint, flooring, and lights to a progress chalkboard and a set of used school lockers perfect for storing gym equipment. The one expenditure they didn't include was the cost of weights and machines.

Media room

Imagine your hardest decision of the night is whether to chow down on cheese popcorn, nachos, or candy. Everyone loves a media room, and a well-executed space often turns out to be where families spend the most time together.

The good news is that plenty of existing lighting already works in your favor; it should be limited anyway. But what you save on blackout curtains you might end up spending on making the room more acoustically friendly. A lot of basements, especially older ones, have the least amount of insulation, and that means limited sound baffling as well.

If you're starting from scratch, Basements Plus offers a checklist of equipment you'll need. They also let you know the distance the seating should be from whatever size flatscreen appeals to you. From furniture to temperature, comfort is key because most people want to spend hours at a time binge-watching shows or cheering on their favorite teams.

Here's where décor becomes fun. If you're a sports fan, team memorabilia is a must. More of a movie maven? Then everyone who lives under your roof should get to pick a movie poster or star to have framed for the room. Be mindful of glare, though. Most frame shops, like Frame Destination, sell glass that won't distract you from the main event on the screen.

Recreation room

Man caves are all the rage right now, but why should they hoard all the good concepts? Many ideas associated with them have applications that defy gender, generation, or budget.

It's easy to see how you can turn a simple man cave comprised of a foosball table and TV for watching sports into a family-friendly room focused on games and media. And, since these spaces are also reserved for hobbies, they can be expanded to include any interest you can imagine. As such, create a space where people can sew, build model trains or planes, or practice a musical instrument without disturbing the household.

KAKS Basement Finishing & Remodeling has posted an imaginative array of possibilities. Consider how used arcade games and pinball machines could turn your basement into a playground. Additionally, Best Reviews Guide details an assortment of pool tables for smaller spaces. You might also consider repurposing your basement to showcase art, trophies, or memorabilia. 

Or, turn your basement into an investment with a wine cellar. According to the pros at GJ MacRae Foundation Repair, even with the smallest amount of room, you can start a wine collection that grows alongside your budding knowledge and appreciation of vino. Smaller spaces only require that you think through your plan with size in mind.