A finished basement is not always the same thing as a designed basement. Sometimes, the basement begins with the basics: walls, a ceiling, lights, and a floor. Gwen Hefner and husband Micah wanted to turn their tiny, airless basement space into a comfortable mancave. They had the basics to start with. The next step, Gwen says, would be a true test to her design skills.
Any project involving electrical, plumbing, or turning the basement into a livable space, requires permits. Plumbing must be done to code for proper drainage to avoid health issues. It also has to ensure flushing certain waste back into the sewer. Electrical issues can cause short-circuits, blown breakers, and fires. The chance of something happening increases if installation is not done properly from the start, including acquiring the proper permits. If creating a bedroom or other regular living space, permits are required. Emergency escape avenues (for fire and other emergencies) need to be in place as well.
If you want to increase the amount of living space in your home, remodeling your basement makes a lot more sense than adding on a new addition. A finished basement has an ROI of around 70%, making it one of the better investments you can make in your home. A typical basement remodel costs around $90 a square foot, assuming moderate decor and finishes. With the average project size of 600 square feet, this puts the cost of the average basement remodel around $55,000.

If you decide to go with a pony wall, you may be able to handle the project yourself (saving money). However, if you’re going to expand your house and need to install weight-bearing walls, you’re better off leaving it to the pros. Additionally, you or your pro will need to investigate building codes and local requirements to ensure you comply with structural guidelines.

Your basement will likely need to be fitted with additional wires to support more lights and electronics. You will need to hire a licensed electrician if you plan to install additional overhead light fixtures, outlets and other components that require additional wiring. The cost of electrical installations depends on the exact project, but licensed electricians tend to charge between $50 and $100 per hour.


The first step in finishing your basement it keeping it dry. Basements often deal with a lot of moisture vapor and hydrostatic pressure, which allow water into an unprotected basement. Because of this, any finished basement has to be waterproofed first. First, test your basement for moisture vapor so you know how much moisture you’re dealing with. There are homes tests you can do yourself or you can hire a professional to do the test for you.
But the brilliant trick she employed to disguise the too-low ceiling was to paint the walls and ceiling the same color (Farrow & Ball, Elephant's Breath). Painting the ceiling white and the walls a different color would have created a horizontal line. The eye would use this line to establish the height of the ceiling. Instead, walls and ceiling blur together, making the ceiling look higher than it really is.
A luxurious contemporary basement opens to the movie and media room which showcases a drop round tray ceiling, recessed lights, light tone wood flooring and built-in entertainment center which stretches across one wall and doubles as bookshelves, provides extra storage for games, videos and other entertainment technology. A small pantry area provides convenience for food preparation and storage. Classic neutral colors add a sense of well-being, ease and coziness to the room.
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