Basement Envy

Well, not quite envy as although I love a well-designed and decorated basement, I have no plans to finish ours.  There is plenty of space for the three of us above ground.  I remember hearing Brian Gluckstein say it’s silly to finish a basement if you have unused rooms on the first and second level.  This resonated with me but if money was no object, I would definitely finish the basement.
I am designing a basement for a client to include a family room/tv viewing area, gym, playroom, storage, fridge and counter (not a traditional bar) and a pool table if I can fit it in.
Basements when done well can add to your family’s enjoyment and to the value of your home.  A few of my basement must-haves:

  • drywall ceilings.  Ceiling tiles are just plain ugly even though I know they have improved over the years.
  • light colour on the walls. 
  • hardwood (with the right underlay) and area rugs instead of carpet. Tiles with radiant heating in bathrooms and gym spaces. There are so many flooring options but this would be my preference if it were my space.
  • plenty of storage and utlilizing places like under the staircase.
  • varied lighting – pot lights, ceiling fixtures and table lamps.
  • if you can, upgrade the size of your basement windows with your builder.  The few inches really make a difference.
  • relocate the rough-in for a future bathroom if the location doesn’t make sense.  Sometimes builders put them in the silliest locations.

Now for some pretty basements. I have always loved House and Home’s Meg Crossley’s basement which I blogged about here.   It doesn’t even look like a basement but rather a chic country home.


I also blogged about her darling bathroom which you can see at the other end of her gorgeous laundry room.


This was Meg’s inspiration for her basement reno.   Love the bright, airy feel.


A Peter Fallico designed basement.


Why can’t a basement bathroom have a little glam?


This sweet laundry/sewing/craft room has every square inch utilized efficiently. The floral fabric on the basic, plastic sink is beautiful.


Love this basement designed by Connie Braemar (this image and the two below.)   She used porcelain tiles with radiant heating throughout the entire space.


This office looks more luxe than a lot of above ground offices!


This space would make doing laundry a highlight of my day.

All images via Canadian House and Home.

Is your basement finished or do you have big plans to finish it one day? 

If you require space planning or decorating advice, please contact me at decorhappy(at)gmail(dot)com.


  1. says

    I have a finished dungeon, which houses my office space and sewing areas….but it still feels like a basement (inherited it with the house) But If I had one of these (can’t bear to call them basements) i would be much more creative in my alotted space. Instead I bring my stuff upstairs where at least there is natural light.

  2. says

    Ooh, I am just in the midst of helping a friend with her basement reno, so thank you for additional inspiration Vanessa! We have plans for things like simple panelling and bookshelves to help it look like an above ground space! Hugs,

    Nancy xo

  3. says

    I’ve done a few basement renovations – as you said – one with plaster ceilings, another a beadboard ceiling – never ceiling tiles. One with little natural light, a couple of walk-out basements (which feel more like a 1st-level room.) One thing to think about (just because we had an issue) is the placement of the TV (if installing a flat screen on a wall). In one of the basements, the kitchen sink was located above the area where the flat-screen TV was hung in the basement. The sink had a leak, when a new dishwasher was being installed (also directly above TV), and water just ran down behind the drywall along the back of the TV where all of the wires were. One basement we installed laminate wood flooring by Armstrong – really durable – looks like hardwood, but in case of flooding or moisture, was a better alternative.
    Of course, you’ll know, Sarah Richardson basements are my fave.

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