Tasker John P. of the NYC region knows a thing or two about recreating basement spaces. A professional organizer and designer, he’s helped dozens of clients — from Hamptons heiresses and real-life hoarders — reclaim what he calls “the most forgotten space in the home.” Hire John here or find a Tasker like him in your neighborhood.
The basement is perhaps the most underutilized space in the home. I happen to be lucky to live in a large house in the suburbs, with basement space as large as the entire first floor of my home.
When you are planning a basement renovation, make sure that you have a minimum of 7 feet from floor to ceiling, or whatever your local construction codes are. A basement with a short ceiling is best utilized for storage of things like seasonal decorations, and archives of paperwork and family relics. You will feel closed in if the ceiling height is less than 7 feet. Of course, these make great play spaces on rainy days or in the cold of winter for kids!
It is also crucial to ensure that you have a very dry, mold free environment. There is nothing like a wet basement or mold to put the kibosh on renovation plans. Ask your home improvement professional for the best ways to seal up any moisture or leaks coming in from outside. Your pro will closely examine all of the wall, floor and ceiling area for any signs of active, growing mold and make recommendations accordingly. Most times, a coat of waterproof paint and a dehumidifier will do the job.
Planning design ideas for your space. This is the fun part! Dream big, and create a “design vision board.” I am very old school, and I clip pictures out of my favorite home design magazines, and I put them on a piece of poster board over the desk in my office. There are a few social media sites like Pinterest that allow you to pin up pictures from your favorite home design or online retailers too. In a basement space, furniture that is multifunctional is my go to. The big box stores have lots of benches with storage, cubicles with baskets, and book shelves. Add paint chips to your “board”, they are free! A bright cheery color or even a very warm shade of white will add lots of personality to your basement “room.” To make basement windows look larger, hang curtains above them, and let them go all the way to the floor. You can add a mirror to the bottom of the window to increase the size, and refract light into the room. This is a design secret that I use in all of my basement rooms, both for clients and for myself. Another of my favorite things to create in a basement room is a cork board wall that doubles as a kid’s art gallery. Get all of those art projects off the refrigerator, and hang them up where they can be appreciated!
My laundry room is part of my basement. I used some open stock folding doors on a track to create a “closed in” laundry space against the back wall. Get creative. Think outside the box to solve those storage issues, and create usable space. An indoor outdoor carpet is also a fun, inexpensive way to add some pizazz to the floor, and not break your budget.
I have an open concept basement family fun room with tons of storage, a very comfortable pull out sofa for unexpected overnight guests and sleep overs with extended family. My basement also has an office space for those days that I need to escape the noise of the main floor of the house. The family media area has a small kitchen that keeps our favorite movie watching snacks close at hand.
For long term storage in your basement, consider using airtight and water resistant plastic tubs with lids that fit securely to the top. Cardboard does not resist moisture, and it draws vermin. Keep everything up off the floor, the slightest bit of moisture can cause damage to your stored items!