1. Use a Light Colour Palette
Many homes (particularly older homes) have small basement windows and lower ceilings. Use a light paint colour and overall palette to keep the visual flow cohesive and reflect all available light. Don’t be afraid to use the same colour on the wall and ceiling to create a unified envelope.
2. Measure Twice, Order Furniture Once
Measure proposed furniture and all passageways twice to avoid nasty surprises. New and older homes can have narrow staircases, low staircases or staircases with tight corners. Be sure to consider areas that can cause surprises when it comes to moving or turning furniture. You can even make a life-size template of furniture out of moving boxes and test to see if it will fit down the stairs! In the project shown above in order to get a 4-seater sofa long enough for lounging we ordered a right arm and a left arm sectional and bolted them together. Innovative solutions are often necessary when design spaces with awkward passageways.
3. Wash the windows, inside and out
Windows can get dirty quickly from splashes of mud and spring runoff. Make the most of natural light by keeping windows clean and using light-coloured, translucent window coverings that let in filtered light even when closed. In this project we use linen-look corded shades in a pale grey to tie into the wall colour. It still lets in the light, disguises inevitably dirty windows and won’t collect dust.
4. Invest in Great Lighting.
Old-school fluorescent ceiling lights once popular in basements don’t make anyone look good! Use levels or layers of lighting – potlights or ceiling fixtures for overall lighting and floor and table lamps for atmosphere and task lighting. If possible, use dimmers to add ambience for movie and tv watching. These narrow floor lamps turn on and off from the floor and provide just the right amount of light where you need it with their flexible arms.
5. Incorporate Old and New
Antique furniture pieces can often be used in the overall design scheme and sometimes not with their original function. Use a sideboard as a tv stand, a bench or trunk as a coffee table or for storage.
6. Spend Your Money on New Pieces that Work
Mix old and new but don’t make the basement the “ugly duckling”! Avoid making the basement a dumping ground for furniture that doesn’t have a home in the other rooms of your house. If the furniture is the wrong colour or style for the room, consider slipcovers or paint to help pieces blend together. Let antiques shine and don’t be afraid to mix old and new pieces into your design plan. Avoid using pops of trendy colours – this can be distracting. Instead let antique pieces take centre stage.
For more actionable advice, sign up for my free e-book: The Whole Design Checklist: A Practical and Actionable Guide to Creating Hard-working Spaces That Lift you Up
And are you embarking on a basement project? Give us a call or send us an e-mail at info@CatherineAlisonInteriors.com! We love helping owners of castles, condos, cottages and commercial spaces spaces find joy when they walk in the door.