Many home dwellers are quick to transform their basements into gyms, home theaters, or play areas for their little ones—and as you make these decisions, it’s important to consider the style and flow of the space. After all, with the right modifications, your basement just might become one of the most trafficked areas in your home. So, shouldn’t it look its best, too?
Fortunately, there are plenty of basement ideas that strike a design trifecta: easy, affordable, and a sight for sore eyes. Ready to level up your lower level? We tapped several interior designers to share their beyond-inspiring basement decorating ideas—and how to bring the look to your own space. The concepts below run the gamut from creating well-appointed designated areas to infusing them with color and pattern. But no matter which space piques your interest, one thing’s for sure: With the right touches, your lower level has the power to become a force to be reckoned with.
The good news is that upgrading your basement’s design doesn’t have to cost a small fortune. For maximum impact on a budget, consider hanging some of your favorite works so your basement can double as a private gallery. In the above Nebraska home, designer Belinda Pabian struck a healthy balance between subtle and statement with some pared-back pieces, which added a subtle touch of color to the otherwise neutral lower level.
Go Big with a Bar
“The basement is an overlooked area from a design perspective in the home, but it can be a functional and beautifully designed space,” purports Elizabeth Rees, founder of Chasing Paper. When it came to decorating her dream basement, Rees incorporated a speakeasy-worthy bar for adults. With a moody blue peninsula, foot railings below, and wallpaper-clad nook to show off her finest bottles, this basement decorating idea is certainly worth toasting to.
Wow with Wallpaper
Sometimes, a little pop of color is all you need to make your basement shine. Need proof? Just take a look at this space from Chango & Co. “We wanted to create some interest in a basement that lacked light and was a simple white box,” explains Susana Simonpietri, the firm’s lead creative. “We added a wallpaper with tie-dye green bands to provide a handmade quality to the space, then layered a mix of leathers, wood, chunky wool knots, and linen to provide depth and texture.” Not only does the wallpaper add a warm touch to this home’s lower-most level, but Simonpietri adds that the mix of weaves helps with the acoustics. Form, meet function.
Let There Be Light
Basements are oftentimes underground, which means natural lighting might be scarce. Fortunately, you can fake the look of a brighter basement with a fresh coat of paint, like Andi Morse of Morse Design did here. “If there aren’t any windows in the basement, opt for light paint colors and tile,” she explains. “Keeping it light in a space with no windows will help the room feel warm and inviting. Making it too dark could result in a dungeon-like feel.”
If your basement leads to an outdoor space, make sure you have a place for guests to kick off their shoes. Priscilla Frost designed this area with sage green built-ins, hooks, and a convenient spot to stow umbrellas. Of course, your basement’s storage area doesn’t have to be strictly practical. Enter Emily Henderson, who amped up this spot’s functional elements with woven baskets, a runner, and a sign that reads, “Please remove shoes.”
Create a Kids’ Corner
What about the little ones in your life? Give them a space to thrive by carving out a little play area in your basement. Vancouver-based design firm Winter Daisy created the ultimate kids zone with a slide, table, and storage baskets filled to the brim with toys. As the perfect finishing touch, three height charts flank the walls, allowing this basement to quite literally grow with the children who spend time there.
Toni Deis Creative
Grab a Surplus of Seats
If entertaining is the main objective for your basement, make sure you add plenty of seating—just as New Jersey-based firm Mimi & Hill did here. “Finishing a basement is a fantastic way to add valuable square footage to your home,” co-founders Hillary Kaplan and Miriam Silver Verga explain. “Recently, we finished a basement, adding zones for relaxing and watching TV, a full bathroom, and a full wet bar.” From an inviting sofa to a booth-like bench, this traditional space proves that more is merrier.
Mix and Match
Since your basement is located on its own floor, it’s a great place to experiment with scale, color, and texture without interfering with the rest of your home’s design. (Translation? It’s a maximalist’s dream.) If you’re looking for a place to start, take a cue from this vibrant setup from Casa Watkins. With a printed rug, lemon-yellow walls, and eye-catching mural, this space is certainly smile-inducing.
Make Movie Magic
Of course, no home theater setup is complete without a concession stand—although this one is a bit more impressive than your average family movie night candy bar. Designer Gerson Michelle Gerson perfected the look with a color-coded snack stash, which pops against the white storage unit.