10 Shortcuts to a Not-So-Scary Basement

If you have an unfinished basement, you probably don’t want to spend a ton of time down there. The air is musty, the floors are damp, and it feels just a tiny bit creepy. Luckily, there are some simple ways to get the feel of a finished basement without shelling out thousands of dollars. Here, 10 ways to turn your basement into a space where the entire family will want to hang out.

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  1. Refreshed Floors

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    If you’re stuck with a concrete floor and laying new tile or laminate is out of the budget, don’t worry. Apply a few coats of epoxy paint (which will also help waterproof the floor) for a refreshed look that won't ruffle the bank account.


    Related: 5 Room Makeovers That Only Took Paint

    Zillow Digs home in Seattle, WA

  2. All Warmed Up

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    Carpet tiles are a smart solution for warming up cold and unattractive floors without the expense of a full carpet installation. They cost as little as a couple of dollars per square foot, and you can combine different colors to create a pretty pattern that won't cost a pretty penny. Plus, installation is practically goof-proof, because most versions are just peel and stick.


    Related: 7 Secrets to Keep Your Carpet Looking New

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  3. Polished Pipes

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    If your basement ceiling is filled with exposed, rusted pipes, grab a can of paint that matches or complements the walls, and give each pipe a couple of coats. This project is a twofer: You'll clean up your unsightly pipes and make the space feel more cohesive.


    Related: 11 Problems You Can Solve with Paint

    Zillow Digs home in Albany, CA

  4. Light Improvements

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    Most unfinished basements are lit with nothing more than bare bulbs, which can feel more horror story than homey. For less than $10, you can pick up clip-on shades that will instantly transform bare bulbs into elegant light fixtures—and you can do this completely without tools. If you’re looking for an even less involved solution, simply layer string lights throughout the space for instant charm and ambience.


    Related: 14 Retro Home Trends It’s Time to Revisit

    Zillow Digs home in Tacoma, WA

  5. Delightfully Dry

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    The signature characteristic of an unfinished basement is that it's musty and damp. A dehumidifier is the quick fix here. Run it regularly, especially during the summer months, to keep the temperature comfortable and to protect against creepy-crawly bugs. If you can’t afford to buy one at full price, it’s always worth giving Craigslist a quick scan.


    Related: A Dozen 10-Minute DIYs for a Pest-Free Home

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  6. By the Book

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    Large spans of bare wall or empty areas beneath the stairs can make an unfinished basement feel dark and dreary. Promote a welcoming vibe (and conceal any unsettling nooks or crannies) by lining blank walls with inexpensive white bookcases or floating shelves. You’ll love how they instantly brighten the entire room, and they're an easy way to add more storage.


    Related: 18 Clever Storage Solutions You Can DIY for Free

    Zillow Digs home in Seattle, WA

  7. Stair Repair

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    If your basement door opens to reveal stark wood stairs of the sort that seem to have a starring role in every horror movie ever made, brighten them up with a few coats of neutral paint. Add stair treads, and tighten any rickety banisters to make them feel extra secure.


    Related: 8 Dangerous Secrets Your Home May Be Hiding

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  8. Fabric Fix-Up

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    Another easy fix for unsightly walls is to tack up sheets of fabric or hang a curtain for a faux-wallpaper look. You can even hang large sections of wrapping paper or scrapbook paper in poster-size frames to mimic high-end art while also adding modern color and style.


    Related: 9 DIY Ways to Redo Your Wall—Without Paint

    Flickr via hanoihancock

  9. Window Work-Around

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    Is your basement plagued by poor light? Inexpensive mirrors found at flea markets or thrift stores are a nice way to bounce brightness around a dark basement. Hang them up on opposite sides of the room to make the space feel both lighter and larger.


    Related: Don't Make These 7 Mistakes in Small Spaces

    Zillow Digs home in Oakland, CA

  10. Go Green

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    Place oversize plants or collections of greenery in the basement to effortlessly conceal unsightly spots or brighten dark corners. You can add style with decorative DIY planters, but the simple injection of life into the space will make it more welcoming and enjoyable to relax in.


    Related: The Best Plants for Every Room of the House

    Zillow Digs home in Silver Spring, MD

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