Skip to main content

How to Make an Unfinished Basement Livable

By August 14, 2021September 30th, 2021Home

When you think of comfortable space in your home, you probably imagine painted walls, carpeted floors and warm lighting. However, the typical unfinished basement comprises block walls, concrete floors and naked light bulbs that accentuate your ceiling pipes.

Fortunately, transforming that moisture-laden waste of space into a comfortable, cozy spot is far from impossible. You can likely achieve this without destroying your budget, too. More good news: If you decide to sell your house, finishing a basement could add as much as 75% of the remodel’s cost to the sales price.

If you’ve ever asked yourself “How to make an unfinished basement look finished?” you’ve arrived at the right place. Here is how to tackle basement makeovers on a budget:


Eliminate moisture

Before you get started with your basement makeover on a dime, you must handle any moisture issues. It might be as simple as applying epoxies and sealants and then adding a dehumidifier to get rid of dampness and smell. Or if you have significant leaks, you could spend thousands on an exterior waterproofing project. Either way, you can’t have furniture and carpeting down there if you have a water problem, so address this concern first.


Throw down a few area rugs

Once your basement is moisture-free, you can paint the floors and warm up the concrete with area rugs. Throw rugs are a quick and inexpensive way to go from cold to cozy. Depending on the size of the space you want to cover, you could opt for a single large rug or an assortment of smaller ones.

Some design experts recommend using carpeting remnants to improve the appearance and define various functional areas of the basement for little cost. Carpet tiles are another cost-effective option for basement flooring. Available by the box, you can lay the tiles to distinguish zones or merely to add warmth to a bare concrete floor.


Paint the ceiling

The pipes, joists and air ducts that often run through basement ceilings can rob the space’s ambiance. Installing drywall can be pricey, so some homeowners paint them with light colors or even darker colors that complement the wall and floor colors.

Painting the exposed beams and the other elements can give the basement project a finished look without significant renovations. Another plus is that if you ever need to make repairs to the pipes or wiring in the ceiling, everything will be accessible.


Brighten the walls

A coat of paint can do wonders for a basement project. Choose lighter colors for the walls since they will offset the lack of natural light and give the entire area an open feel. Keep in mind that because most basement walls are made of concrete blocks, the job can be quite a chore. Because the blocks will absorb the paint, it is often a time-consuming and frustrating undertaking. As such, you might want to consider hiring a professional painter.


Improve the lighting

An unfinished basement lit with bare lightbulbs has the feel of something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. For a small investment, you can buy clip-on shades and install them without tools. Another idea: Layer the basement with string lights to provide cheer and ambiance. One of the benefits of using string lights is they require only one receptacle—and receptacles are usually in short supply in a basement.


Make the steps safe and attractive

Do you see bare wood steps when you open your basement door? If so, paint them a neutral color, install a railing if they do not already have one, and add vinyl or rubber treads for both safety and style.

Since you have made improvements in your basement, you and your guests will likely be using it more often. Railings and tread will ensure that everyone remains safe while traveling up and down the stairs.


Create a storage area

All too often, the basement becomes a disorganized catch-all for Christmas decorations and other seasonal items. But if you organize those things neatly in bins, shelving, cabinets and racks, you will not spoil the improved look of that newly-renovated basement.


Update your homeowners insurance after your basement upgrades

Since a finished basement will increase your home’s value, be sure to update your homeowners insurance coverage to reflect the new value. The insurance professionals at White Cloud Insurance can advise you. They can provide you with a competitive home insurance quote and answer all of your questions at 305-556-1488. Or if you prefer, fill out our home insurance contact form or send us a message at