When was the last time you gave much thought to your basement? Mysteriously, this cave-like space has been widely forgotten in the decorating space (unless you’re in the 1% who transform their lower levels into impressive wine cellars, home theaters, and at-home spas). What if you just want a regular well-decorated room to enjoy with your family? Along this line, one of our readers had a question for us: How do you make a basement actually look good?
Basements aren’t the most visually appealing rooms: Low ceilings, second-grade finishes, and a lack of natural light can make them hard to decorate. But we’re always up for a challenge here at MyDomaine, and we came up with seven creative solutions to transform your basement from boring to inviting. From how to camouflage your small windows to how to make your ceilings feel higher, we’ve got all the solutions you need to make this forgotten room the best in the house.
Think of all those underground cocktail bars you’ve been to in your lifetime. They all have one thing in common: They’re dark and moody. Interior designers agree that you shouldn't fight the natural darkness of a room by painting it white. Instead, the best thing to do is to embrace the gloomy vibes and opt for a dark, moody color. So go über-dramatic in your underground space—it will feel cozy and lounge-y, rather than like a boring room with low ceilings and no natural light.
Short, stumpy windows typical of a basement seldom look good, but at least they provide a slither of natural light in an otherwise pitch-black space. To hide those unsightly windows at night or when entertaining, pick extra-long opaque Roman shades and hang them as high as possible. While you can’t camouflage windows when the shades are up, you can make them look extra long at night, mimicking a regular window.
You have a basement, essentially an entire extra floor to make it what you like—lucky you! Why not make it a dream room that’s fun and playful? Have you always wanted to have a ping-pong table, a home cinema, or a wet bar? Go wild. Just remember you don’t have to abide by the bad basement clichés. Keep your room as elevated as you would any other in the house. Pool-table lighting need not apply.
Since ceilings are typically low in basements, the best way to trick the eye into making the ceiling feel higher is to use low-slung furniture. Think close-to-the-ground sofas and low coffee tables. Poufs and floor cushions are also great alternatives to club chairs, and they provide that covetable lounge-y feeling.
Most rooms in the house serve a clear purpose: Bedrooms are for sleeping, and kitchens are for cooking. But basements lack a clear identity. Too often, they end up being furnished with a mishmash of hand-me-downs and castoffs that serve no real purpose. Treat your lower level the same as you would any other room. First, ask yourself how you want to use the space. Do you want a TV room, an entertaining space, or a playroom? Put some thought into how you use the space, and decorate accordingly to make it visually appealing but also functional.
Another typical characteristic of a basement is that the space is often very big, with no defined rooms. Because of this, furniture can end up looking lost when you don’t know where to rest your eye in a room. To counter this, define one clear focal point in your room: Is it a large piece of artwork, a fireplace, or a bar? The minute you walk down those stairs, the focal point should be obvious.
While using low-slung furniture in the middle of the room is the best way to make a space’s ceilings feel higher, another good trick is to fill the walls from floor to ceiling. Work with bookcases or artwork to fill wall space—they will not only bring height to your ceilings but also decorate the empty walls that most likely reside in your basement.
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