Basement Styles

Susanne Clemenz | Improvement Center Columnist | December 13, 2011

Your kids are in high school, yet their baby cribs are still in the basement along with a cramped laundry area, a dusty work bench, and some good but seldom-used exercise equipment. You bought this basement along with your home's living areas, and you're paying taxes on it. It's time to think of some exciting basement styles that can make the space earn its keep.

List your basement remodel possibilities

Set up an appointment with your family for a brainstorming session. Have paper and pens for everyone. Write every idea, even wild ones, on the lists. Use these basement style ideas as a starting point to get imaginations fired up:

  1. Create a clean, ventilated, enclosed laundry area
  2. Create a workshop and/or hobby area with dust containment
  3. Add a storage room and/or shelf systems
  4. Let a media room for movies dominate non-utility areas
  5. Designate an area for a ping-pong or pool table
  6. Set up a nice home office or workout space
  7. Create a party room--bar, seating, eating, and dance areas
  8. Make a yoga studio or sound-dampened music rehearsal space
  9. Create a guest or rental apartment
  10. Add a toilet and sink or complete bathroom

Graph out your best options

The next step is to spend a weekend cleaning, organizing items by category (electrical, hobby supplies, etc,) or disposing of basement contents. Be merciless about unneeded items. Then measure the space, plotting it on graph paper as you go. Include windows, plumbing, and lighting.

Now it's time to choose among your list of basement remodel ideas. Try to represent a bit of every one's ideas, perhaps by combining. Then decide how much of the available space you want to allot to each choice. Play with ideas on the graph paper. Measure larger items and graph them. Attach masking tape loops to the back so you can move them around. Allow for door opening requirements.

Get estimates from basement remodeling pros

Complete the simple form on this page to reach local remodeling contractors. Ask three of them to look at your space and your graphed plans, and solicit ideas and a preliminary range for your basement remodel price. Adjust your ideas to your budget before getting a final bid. Remember, you're actually adding a floor to your home. Costs can start from about $50,000 to $60,000, unless you do some work yourself. Your project may be unique among basement styles in the neighborhood, and should provide space to create life-long memories for the whole family.