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9 Ways To Brighten Up Your Dark, Dingy Basement!

Monday, October 18th by Shannon Brelsford


Bright Basement

Basements are known for their dark and uncomfortable atmosphere, but it doesn't have to be that way.

As the weather cools and the season turns wet and overcast, going down into your damp, dingy, unfinished basement is a task that seems to grow more and more unpleasant with each passing day. Cold and dark, unfinished basements are uncomfortable at best and creepy at worst with their stone or concrete walls and tiny, often dirty and ineffective windows.Used predominantly as storage, unfinished basements are hardly thought of as bright, inviting places. 

Here are nine ways to lighten, brighten and make your unfinished basement into a finished basement that’s a comfortable, stylish and enjoyable place to be!

1.)Paint The Walls A Light/Bright Color

White, or a light color such as pale blue and yellow helps to reflect light and can make the unfinished basement space feel more open and airy. Depending on the finish you choose, such as matte or high gloss, this may also play a factor in how large and bright the space will feel. There is also the option of installing waterproofed, light colored basement wall panels, which provide protection against water intrusion and potential mold or property damage that unfinished basement walls and sheetrock are vulnerable against. If painting the walls a brighter color or adding light colored basement wall panels isn’t to your taste,consider painting the ceiling instead! 

2.)Install Bigger Basement Windows And Window Wells

Basement Egress Windows

Egress windows are required by code for any basement dwelling space, and let in more natural light than traditonal basement windows.

Traditional basement windows in an unfinished basement are small, rectangular and frequently end up blocked by landscaping or covered with grass clippings and sediment over time. Often, they end up ineffectual, not allowing in much natural light to brighten the space. Replacing small windows with larger egress windows and window wells will not only increase the amount of natural light in the newly finished basement, but will also provide a viable escape route in case of emergency. 

3.)Choose A Light Colored Flooring

Commonly, an unfinished basement floor is a slab of concrete, cold and unpleasant to walk over, and just another reason that you may not feel the urge to spend any more time than necessary in the basement. Installing a better, warmer and waterproofed basement floor alternative like a light colored tile or faux wood can help to make the space lighter, more open and significantly more comfortable. 

4.)Install Proper Basement Lighting

Basement Pendant Lights

Ensuring that a finished basement is properly lit helps to make the space feel more inviting.

When installing new light fixtures there are three types of artificial light that you should keep in mind when making your design and lighting choices for your new finished basement. 

General lighting, also known as “overall” lighting or “ambient” lighting is the main light source for any given room. This typically means overhead lighting, frequently incorporated into a drop ceiling in finished basements. 

Accent lighting, a light source that highlights details of the room’s decor, such as art pieces, photos, collectibles or trophies. Accent lights are often in the form of track lighting, or individual spotlights. 

Task lighting, which provides bright, glare free illumination where you work, study or play. 

When replacing basement lighting, consider installing LED lights for their many advantages, including their money saving and energy efficient qualities. LED lights also use a great deal less electricity than fluorescent and incandescent bulbs, last longer and can be virtually any size due to their lack of need for a filament. 

5.)Choose Bright, Light Colored Furniture and Decor

Contrast is a powerful design tool, especially when aiming to bring warmth and comfort to a space. Color theory can play a part in this, with orange and yellow being known as cheerful, inviting shades, while white is often associated with purity, cleanliness and safety. Artwork and other types of decor can also add pops of color around the space: paintings, sculptures, posters and collectibles can all help to make the space feel more relaxing to be in. 

6.)The Trick Of Illusion: Mirrors

Finished Basement Mirror

Mirrors are useful in smaller, darker spaces because they provide the illusion of more space, while reflecting light around the room!

Mirrors are a wonderful accent often used by designers in smaller, darker spaces. Being highly reflective, adding a mirror can essentially brighten a room with the light that bounces back off the surface, while also making any space seem larger and more airy. If your finished basement doesn’t take up the entire  lower portion of your home, or if the basement itself is simply of a smaller scale, this trick can really work wonders! 

7.)Keep Landscaping And Greenery Well Manicured

While it’s lovely to have large, beautiful hedges and flower beds around the home, these aesthetic features can sometimes block out light that could otherwise illuminate the basement space, helping to take away some of the discomfort of traditionally “creepy” basements. Landscaping should be kept nicely manicured, and if possible, planted slightly away from basement windows to allow in the maximum amount of natural light. 

8.)Decluttering: A Simple, Free Way To Make More Space

Organized Basement

Keeping the space open and free of clutter helps to keep the atmosphere light and comfortable.

Sorting through boxes and bins of personal belongings might not sound like the best way to spend an afternoon, but the tedious action can quickly help to take any space from claustrophobic to comfortable and is a practical first step when embarking on a basement finishing project. Being so often used for storage of anything from old momentos to holiday decorations and random accumulation over the years, the basement can quickly become a rather unruly place to navigate. Setting yourself the task of decluttering and reorganizing the area can open up significant amounts of space and make for a far less anxiety-inducing basement. 

9.)Consider Reflective Surfaces

Much like the concept behind adding mirrors to a space, reflective surfaces can also add a bit of light to any given space. This can mean brushed metal accents, such as stainless steel counters or glossy tiles, glass tables and even artwork. Adding a bit of shine takes the edge off a mostly dark space, allowing what little light there is to refract more successfully around the space and provide a lighter atmosphere. 

Finding A Basement Finishing Contractor Near You

Basement Finishing Installation

Reach out to a professional basement finishing company, today!

Growing tired of your dank, creepy, dark basement? Consider a basement finishing project to lighten the uncomfortable atmosphere! With a few design tricks up your sleeve, you can easily transform your vaguely unsettling, damp and displeasing unfinished basement into a relaxing and comfortable space for the whole family. 

Total Basement Finishing is a network of highly trained and extensively experienced locally owned and operated basement finishing contractors, dedicated to providing high quality products, workmanship and excellent customer service. Reach out today for your free, no obligation estimate! 

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