How to Finish Your Basement

cement floors great room

There are so many options to create a great basement living space as shown here with this geometric vaulted ceiling look. Get rid of the drop ceiling for this look and hide pipes or wiring in easy hidden access boards or faux beams. Very chic!

There are so many options to create a great basement living space as shown here with this geometric vaulted ceiling look. Get rid of the drop ceiling for this look and hide pipes or wiring in easy hidden access boards or faux beams. Very chic!

Finishing a basement is a major undertaking, but done well, it can add significant value to your home. There are lots of things to consider when it comes to remodeling this area of your home: Is there a chance of flooding or dampness? What should you do with the ceilings if you need to access pipes? How can you add clean light to a dark, dingy space completely lacking in natural light?

It’s natural to have these concerns — how you handle them can make or break a finished basement space. Fortunately, we’re here to help with some tips that will have your basement looking designer-chic at a budget price.

Flooring and Flooding: A Fresh Option Emerges

I once knew a couple who purchased a tiny Cape Cod-style house. The very first thing they did was renovate the basement to expand their space. They installed drywall and painted it a pale blue, adding architectural features like bright white painted beams to hide some of the piping. The space was cold, so they installed plush carpeting to add warmth. It really was a lovely space … until the spring dampness came and the basement flooded. The water ruined the carpet as well as about two inches of the drywall, and it was shockingly expensive to fix.

The first thing you need to know when tackling a basement remodel is whether or not your home has proper drainage to prevent flooding. You can install a sump-pump to handle excess water, but even if there is a slight possibility of flooding, concrete flooring should be considered the only option. Dampness will wreck hardwood, laminate, and carpeting, and who knows how much mold and mildew might be lurking beneath the surface?

I know what you’re thinking: Concrete flooring is cold, ugly, etc…but the truth is, concrete has come a long way and these are just a few of the myths about concrete basement floors. Just look at some of these photos and judge for yourself.

finished cement floors in basement

Designed by: The Design Center in Franklin, TN

This stained concrete flooring has a gorgeous decorative pattern. Worried about warmth? In-floor radiant heat can be added before pouring!

finished cement floors

Designed by: Colors On Concrete in Upland, CA

Scoring, scraping, and stamping concrete allows you to be inventive with options like faux stone, tile, and even wood! The best part? If anything happens, fixes are easy and inexpensive. There’s lots more info on finishing a basement with concrete here.

Say Goodbye to Ugly Drop Ceilings

Designers have figured out so many clever ways to access piping in a remodeled basement. Drop ceilings are no longer the only option! One of my favorite approaches is to add architectural details like faux wood beams and wood panels that allow you to easily access the pipes.

tiled ceiling

There are options for dropped ceilings today!

If you feel that you need to have a drop ceiling, there are more sophisticated ways to go about it. Look for wider and smoother panels for a cleaner look. Textured mineral fiber ceilings may reduce noise, but they’re just plain ol’ ugly!


Lights, Lights, Lights

Mitzi Beach, a designer friend of mine, says that when a specification calls for 10 lights, she orders 20. The right amount and correct lighting can totally transform a basement remodel.

basement lighting

Make sure to light areas where you are walking or could injure yourself. Heading down into a dark basement can be dangerous business. Safety should be a priority!


Concrete Arts in Hudson, WI,

Concrete Arts in Hudson, WI,

Isn’t this basement remodel just dreamy? The textural elements and transition of stairs into the main space gives this a grand look. I also love the lighting in this space! It is inviting and warm but still bright enough to show off the features in this room.

cement floor in basement - gameroom

Designed by: Kline Construction, Elgin, Il.


If gaming and play are more your cup of tea, lighting becomes even more important. You do not want to be straining your eyes when lining up a shot playing pool or sitting in the bar area enjoying happy hour with friends. The light in this space makes the room
feel bright and fun. Track lighting is a great option for basements with exposed ceilings or faux beamed ceilings, and allows you to change the positioning of the lights when you rearrange furniture or change the layout.

I hope we gave you plenty of ideas to start thinking about remodeling your own basement!