Better Your Basement
An unfinished basement, with its concrete floor and exposed joists, may seem dreary and cold. But in reality it is an enormous blank canvas just waiting for your inspired ideas and artistic vision. The fact is, you don't really need niceties like drywall and recessed lighting to create an inviting space.
Before you begin, do what you need to do to make sure the space is dry and clean. Fix any water issues and apply waterproofing if necessary. Unfinished concrete flooring will produce fine dust if it’s not sealed, so you may want to consider applying a sealer. It’s an easy DIY project that will go a long way to making your unfinished basement a lot more comfortable and manageable to maintain.
Employ a few of these creative basement ideas—all of them low cost and low effort—to transform your unfinished room into a comfortable retreat everyone will be drawn to.
Lay Down Foam Mats
Most unfinished basements have a poured concrete floor. Soften it up for playtime or workout time with square foam floor mats, like these top-rated ProsourceFit Puzzle Mat from Amazon. Foam floor mats come in different sizes and colors (even in faux-wood finishes!), and join together like a puzzle—and they're easy to pick up and move elsewhere or stack away and store when your needs change.
Related: 9 Inspiring Ideas for Basement Flooring
String Some Lighting
Most unfinished basements have very few electrical outlets and just a couple of naked bulb fixtures mounted in the ceiling. Bring more light to the space and create a playful ambience by hanging some string lights. With just one outlet, you can illuminate a large area with several strings of lights.
Related: The Best Basement Lighting of 2021
Throw Down Area Rugs
Area rugs can warm up a cold basement floor quickly. Depending on the size of your space, you could use one large rug or several smaller ones. You could even go for carpeting remnants—a low-cost, effective option that can both cozy up a basement and help define different functional areas in the space.
Related: 20 Area Rugs You Can Actually Afford
Having an extra floor below grade means you have a lot of potential storage space underfoot. Make the most of your unfinished basement by putting up shelving to store off-season clothing, sporting gear, tools, and more.
Related: The Do’s and Dont’s of Basement Storage
Paint Your Cinder Block
Basement walls of cinder block, brick, or even poured concrete can be transformed pretty quickly and simply with a coat of paint. Go for a solid color, or get wild and design a mural to brighten up that subterranean space of yours.
Related: How To: Paint Concrete
No walls? No problem! Put up a simple and inexpensive curtain system to divide space and add dimension to an unfinished basement. If you can't install a track on the ceiling, try stretching picture wire taut across the room, then attach curtain hooks with clips, like these popular ones from Amazon, to flat sheets for an easy no-sew DIY project perfect for a beginner.
Related: Divide and Conquer—14 Room Dividers to Bring Order to Your Space
Create an Art Studio
The great thing about an unfinished space is you don’t need to be too fussy about getting it messy. So why not transform part of your unfinished basement into an art studio? If paint and glitter get all over the floor, they'll just add charm and inspiration.
Related: Beautiful Basements: 13 Surprisingly Cool Underground Amenities in Real American Homes
Craft a Canopy for Your Ceiling
If the rafter ceiling in your unfinished basement feels too cold and industrial for your taste, soften it by hanging swaths of fabric to create a beautiful canopy ceiling.
Related: 15 Basement Ceiling Ideas to Inspire Your Space
Build a Workshop
Every do-it-yourselfer needs a place to make the magic happen. What better spot for a workshop than an unfinished basement? A sturdy concrete floor makes cleanup easier, and open studs and rafters provide excellent organization and storage space with the simple addition of pegboard and shelving.
Related: The Most Important Things to Keep in Your Tool Kit in 2020
Paint the Rafters
Painting the exposed beams of your basement ceiling can make the entire space feel more finished without heavy renovation. As a bonus, all of your utilities will remain completely accessible, in case you need to make repairs to your ceiling in the future.
Related: 11 Breathtaking Ideas for a Wood Ceiling
Zillow Digs home in Brentwood, MO
Create a Partition
Installing a small, temporary wall can help to delineate space without requiring permits and major planning. Once the curtain is drawn in front of the washer/dryer, this basement laundry room essentially disappears, letting the wet bar take center stage.
Related: Buy or DIY: 10 Room Dividers to Remake Your Space
Zillow Digs home in Mountain Brook, AL
Brighten Up the Floor
Your unfinished basement’s concrete floor is a blank canvas, and a coat of paint can make a huge difference. This straightforward DIY project will give you a big bang for your buck.
Related: 3 Key Steps to a Concrete Floor Refresh
Hang Up a Projector
The dim lighting and blank walls in your unfinished basement make it an ideal spot to hang up a projector. Throw down some soft rugs and grab cozy blankets, and you have yourself a fun new spot for family movie night.
Related: The Best Projector Screens of 2021
Turn It Into a Wine Cellar
At-home wine cellars sound like a luxury, but truthfully this is a basement idea that you can do yourself. Purchase a quality wine cooler, so your vino collection is stored at the perfect temperature, install shelving for your wine accessories, and then add some cushiony chairs or bar furniture for when you’re ready to sit back and enjoy your beverage.
Related: Why Go Out? 12 Bars You Can Build at Home
Set Up a Home Office
Need to find a space where you can work from home uninterrupted? Look no further than downstairs to your basement. Throw down a soft rug, pick out a sturdy desk and chair, add a desk plant, and then get to work. The temperature in your unfinished basement might not always be ideal, so consider adding a fan or heater depending on the season—of course, don’t forget to turn them off when you leave the area.
Related: 11 Ideas for Working Remotely When You Don’t Have a Home Office
The best way to make your unfinished basement feel complete is by adding accents and decor just as you would to any other room in your house. In addition to the basement ideas above, like hanging string lights and adding area rugs, bring in other details that will add warmth, texture, and ambiance. Consider adding faux houseplants for greenery and fun furniture to make the drab space more interesting.
Related: 15 Lazy Ways to Make a Big Change in Your Home
See the Potential
The blank slate of an unfinished basement offers endless possibilities.
If you have the money to hire a handyman for every household woe, go ahead. But if you want to hang on to your cash and exercise some self-sufficiency, check out these clever products that solve a million and one little problems around the house. Go now!