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How to Turn an Old Basement Into a Welcoming New Guest Room
by Rudyard Kipling on April 06, 2017

Instead of constructing new areas to extend your home’s capacity, why not just turn old areas into livable spaces? It’s a very practical way of making use of the available space in your home. In fact, transforming a basement into a guest room or a bedroom is a great way to increase the value of your property. And while renovating a room in your house doesn’t come cheap (especially if it’s your entire basement), it’s certainly cheaper than having a completely new area constructed on your property.

guest room basement

Before you start deciding where to put the sleeper sofa, TV, vintage arcade, pool table, mini ref, surround sound system, or whatever other cool stuff you’re planning to put in your new guest room, you need to take care of the basics first.

How livable is your basement?

Your First Priority Should Be: Damage Repair and Initial Construction

If you’ve been using your basement mostly just for storage purposes, chances are it’s not a very welcoming space. You need to assess and take note of everything wrong with your basement so you know what you need to work on first. Check your basement’s walls, floor, and ceiling for any of the following issues:

  • Moldy smell or visual signs of mold
  • Leaks and other concentrations of moisture and water
  • Structural and cosmetic cracks
  • Faulty electrical wiring/lack of electrical sockets
  • Inadequate/broken lighting
  • Inadequate/compromised wall insulation
  • Inadequate/broken ventilation system

Taking care of these concerns first will ensure that the transformation goes as smoothly as possible. Depending on how much work needs to be done, you may need to hire a contractor who can bring in a team that can take care of all this for you. Don’t skimp on these basic construction costs; this phase is the most important part of your basement’s transformation.

If your basement’s in a dire state, prepare yourself for some heavy duty waterproofing work. The contractor might need to dig an inspection trench around the outside of the basement to fix any and all leaks and cracks (both cosmetic and structural) affecting your walls. This might also be a good time to take care of any plumbing issues that can be fixed from this area of the house. Also, if you’re planning to get a bathroom installed in the basement, this is the time to mention it to your contractor.

Assume Leaks and Flooding in the Future

Waterproofing is a crucial part of finishing any basement. But no matter how good the initial waterproofing is, it’s only a matter of time before a leak appears and moisture starts encroaching on your territory. Your basement is at the bottom of your home, and water only knows one direction: down. Depending on changes in the weather as well as how good your waterproofing is during initial construction, it can be months or years before you have to deal with any leaks (or worse, flooding), but it’s bound to happen. So it’s best to prepare for the worst.

  • Avoid using any wood (or any material vulnerable to moisture) during initial construction.
  • Do not install wall-to-wall carpeting.
  • Install additional electrical sockets and all planned electronics higher than normal.
  • Try to pick furniture that can withstand some moisture or outright flooding.
  • If you absolutely have to use wood, make sure to use waterproof varnishes.

Always Follow Your Local Building Codes

Any contractor worth their salt can oversee a construction project in accordance with the local building codes. In particular, basements are usually required to have large and easily accessible escape routes in case of any emergencies. The good news is that this means more large upper windows that can also bring in more natural light into the space. Apart from that, the building codes will determine whatever you can and can’t do with your basement. Make sure you follow these rules to the letter, even if it means having to spend more resources and time for the necessary construction work.

Don’t worry about how long everything is going to take. Damage repair and initial construction are the literal foundations of any successful basement renovation project. Take your time. After you ensure that these concerns are 100% taken care of (in accordance with the local building codes), everything else is comparatively a piece of cake.

Pick a Single, Solid Theme to Put It All Together

You’ve probably already picked a theme before even stumbling upon this article. If so, good. And if not, choose one now. Do you want your basement to look zen, rustic, modern, or classic? Picking a theme will make designing your new guest room much easier. The theme will determine which colors, textures, and accents will go with the final look and feel of the room, so choose wisely.

Find, Choose, and Maintain Existing Charming Basement Details

You don’t need to cover everything with blank cement, plywood, or paint. Some previously unsightly elements in your basement might actually enhance the look and feel of the space if you figure out how to use them. For instance, exposed beams and pipes on the ceiling don’t necessarily need to be hidden: just paint the ceiling and everything on it in a dark color. This can create the illusion that the ceiling is much higher than it really is - an easy way to enhance existing space.

The space under the basement stairs could be used as panels to hang lights. That bare cement wall in one corner of the room could be an interesting design element if left unfinished. Instead of removing decades-old brick walling, maybe you can just patch it up and keep the warm, rustic feel that it lends to the room.

Find whatever’s unique about your basement and see if you can work these quirks into the final design. These elements can present you with certain design opportunities not present in any other room in your house. Making clever use of these opportunities can give your basement an unparalleled charm that will leave your guests impressed.

Mattress Sale & Mattresses

Furnish With Your Existing Stuff Before Buying Anything New

Creating an entirely new living area in your home is a fantastic opportunity to get rid of old clutter. Rummage through your old stuff and see whatever is useable for the new basement guest room. Do this before you even consider purchasing new furniture, accents, and electronics for the basement. It’s a good way to lower the overall cost of your remodeling project. Just make sure that whatever you bring into the basement isn’t infested with any mold, termites, dust mites, or anything else that can turn your dream room into a nightmare. Clean before you move.

Splurge on Guest Room Essentials First

When you’re designing a guest room, the comfort of your guests comes first, so you may have to forego splurging on fun stuff in lieu of furnishing the space with the essentials first. While it would be awesome to have a pool table or a vintage arcade in your basement guest room, it might be more practical to use that cash for a sleeper sofa or a new bed base and mattress. It wouldn’t hurt to get new sheets and comforters for your new guest room either. After making sure you have everything you need to keep your guests comfy, you can move on to getting what you need to keep them entertained.


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