How to turn a forsaken basement into the ultimate hang zone.
By Simone Paget
Faced with colder weather, many of us are looking for ways to maximize our indoor living space. This winter, the basement doesn’t have to be the room where boxes of decorations are stored and overflow guests are relegated. With a little creativity, your basement can be transformed into the ultimate family hang zone.
While often overlooked, finished basements make ideal family rooms. They offer abundant space and can easily be adapted for a wide range of activities. You can designate one corner as a children’s play area while creating a dedicated movie-watching zone in another that can shift from a lounge to a guest room or a space for your next big sleepover party.
Basement spaces are incredibly versatile, but they also present their share of challenges in the form of low ceilings, small windows and chilly temperatures. While it’s possible to change low ceilings and small windows, the process can be costly. The good news is that you don’t need to undergo a full renovation to create an inviting family room.
“There are a few ways you can make your space feel brighter and larger without breaking your budget,” says Lauren Jarvis, an interior designer with Mac Renovations.
That’s true whether you’re in need of a cozy setting for movie night, a lively playroom for the littles, a comfortable guest area or all of the above. Spruce spoke to Jarvis to get her tips on how to recreate this space for the season ahead.
When faced with lower-than-ideal ceilings, often we think it’s best to keep furniture and décor as close to the floor as possible to maximize vertical space. However, Jarvis encourages people to go tall.
“Elongated items, such as a large mirror, tall plant or long lamp will actually trick the eye into moving upward,” she says.
When considering storage options for your family room, Jarvis suggests maximizing vertical space.
“The most functional homes maximize vertical space, which instills flow within the home,” she says. “Instead of storing your bicycle near the door, consider hanging it on the wall to create more open floor space and a focal point.”
Easy Fix: Get creative with lighting
When it comes to creating a cozy and inviting basement, creative lighting solutions can help offset what the space lacks in natural light. It can also help compensate for lower ceilings.
“Wall sconces are a great way to not only brighten the space but draw the eye upward,” says Jarvis. “For an even more dramatic effect, consider a sconce that illuminates towards the ceiling.”
In addition to the primary light source, add a floor lamp or table lamps to build texture and create a soft glow throughout the space.
You can also use elevated window treatments to create the illusion of height. Jarvis says mounting lighter-toned curtains or drapes as high as possible will also give the illusion that your windows, and therefore your ceilings, are taller than they actually are.
This Mac Renovations project turned a basement space into a completely functional living and visiting area — from the laid-back couch to the wet bar, stock fridge and powder-room. The vertical wood slats separating the stairwell from the room help to elongate the space and create an optical illusion of height given this lower-level ceiling.
Make it energy efficient
Heating a frigid basement can get costly, fast — especially when you’re planning to spend meaningful time there.
Instead, Jarvis suggests investing in environmentally friendly solutions that add value to your home.
“Upgrading your windows and doors is a quick way to improve safety and security without turning the home into a bunker,” she says. “These will both improve energy efficiency by keeping the internal temperatures stable and increase overall security with innovative locking mechanisms.”
Pair esthetics with functionality
When it comes to balancing practicality and style, don’t feel that you need to choose between the two in order to achieve a space that you love.
“There are many ways to incorporate functional pieces that keep your desired esthetic in mind,” says Jarvis.
One way to do this is with multifunctional furniture. Get the most out of your furniture by looking at sofas, ottomans and chairs that feature hidden storage. For example, a storage ottoman or a trundle sofa is perfect for corralling clutter and creating a guest-friendly space.
“These pieces have come a long way when it comes to design and won’t leave you feeling like you compromise on style,” Jarvis says.
Another creative way to beautify the space is to hide wires, remotes, modems and other devices in a stylish basket or box strategically placed on a counter. Baskets and unique storage containers add texture and personality, but be sure the material is perforated for devices that require airflow.
Embrace your family’s personality
If your basement family room still feels a bit sterile, Jarvis suggests investing in luxe throw blankets and pillows — even some additional art.
“Layering [fabric] items will give a relaxed and welcoming feeling while also adding character to your space,” she says. “Try mixing and matching patterns, textures and sizes to give your home an effortless, lived-in and functional feeling.”
When considering how to create a cozy hang space for the months and years ahead, Jarvis also urges families to embrace nostalgia.
“For an extra touch of character, try adding some unique vintage pieces to your space that tell a story,” she says.
This could mean displaying treasured family items on shelving (think: Grandpa’s perfectly rustic toaster from the 1950s or your favourite sports memorabilia) or getting creative with your wall accents by hanging framed children’s artwork, vintage posters of your favorite movies or family photos to inject your unique personality into the room.
When it comes to making this space one that will entice the family to enjoy it into the future, it’s the little details that will make it feel like home.
In the zone
This lower-level family room combines multiple areas to hang out in one space. From a sitting/reading nook with cushion ottomans to a separate dining cove and a visiting corner, this room could act as an ideal backdrop to a festive party or winter gathering. With room enough to move and layouts that accommodate a range of needs, this area becomes the ultimate hang zone.
Make it fun
Adding a personal touch is crucial in getting the hang-out vibe just right in a family room. Consider who is likely to occupy this space the most, then custom create a theme that suits. It could be someone’s long-favoured print that never made it to a wall upstairs, or a framed collage of the kids’ artwork. Funky and bold colours are perfect for this room.