An unfinished basement is a gold mine of renovation opportunities. From a stunning rental apartment to a retro gaming room, you can tap into the extra square footage to make anything your heart desires. Once you’ve got an idea of the type of environment you want to create, it’s time for the fun part: browsing the latest basement trends!
In 2023, basements are embracing nature, fine details, and unique partitions. Harsh lines and closed layouts are giving way to curves, room dividers, and even patterned wallpaper. Discover your personal style or enhance the existing aesthetic with these 10 basement trends.
1. Ceiling details
Renovating a basement often means you have to work around essential house infrastructure like ducts, pipes, and electrical cables. These aren’t very pretty and dropping the ceiling to cover them up not only wastes valuable design space but can also make the room feel claustrophobic.
Instead of seeing them as an obstacle, look at them as an opportunity to add unique details to your basement décor. Build soffits around ductwork and create an inset ceiling design in the space between them. Mount wood slats in interesting patterns, hang elegant lighting fixtures, or add a mural. Even when there isn’t existing ductwork, think of how you can give the ceiling some character.
2. Elegant separation
Unfinished basements rarely have dividing walls. While this lends itself well to open concept layouts, in some cases it can feel like areas are bleeding into each other.
A bit of separation, either through walls or décor, can help create distinct spaces without sacrificing that feeling of spaciousness. Some great basement ideas include non-solid divider walls, wooden panels, colourful shelving units, or even suspended potted plants.
3. Curves all around
Sharp angles fit very well with a sleek and modern aesthetic, but basement trends have been moving toward softer shapes. Organic curves and arches mimic the smooth lines found in nature, like the silhouette of an egg or butterfly wings. They help relieve stress and anxiety, contrary to the usual fare for basement décor.
So, embrace curved corners, wavy-walled alcoves, or even just arched trim for your cabinetry. These details allow the eye to keep moving along the wall and smooth lines instead of being stopped short at every corner, leading to a more relaxed feeling.
4. Stairway to heaven
Though stairs are a necessary part of any basement, they don’t have to be purely utilitarian. As long as the dimensions meet Code, you can redesign the steps and landing using different materials, colours, and even mouldings to better suit your basement décor. If you want a bigger statement piece, shift the railing to the opposite side and replace the existing (knee)wall and banister with a decorative dividing panel.
Even if you don’t change the stairs themselves, the space underneath can be put to good use. Keep it simple by adding storage cabinets or transform it into a small office or even a children’s play area.
5. Soothing blue palettes
In line with the nature theme, this year’s basement trends feature rich blues with a hint of green. To create a calm and relaxing atmosphere, pair them with earthy colours such as browns, beiges, terracottas, and deep pinks. These tonals add character to your space and work well with wooden fixtures and neutral décor.
6. Plywood for a natural touch
Wood grain and tones are a timeless aspect in any space, bringing forth feelings of comfort and warmth. To get the feel of wood while matching your basement décor, opt for high quality plywood laminated with blonde woods such as Baltic birch. It makes for a great accent and works well in high humidity environments.
7. Soft carpet tiles
Wall-to-wall carpeting is often a no-go in the basement because it’s tough to clean and grabs onto moisture. If you’re dead set on having soft and squishy floors, then check out carpet tiles.
One of this year’s biggest basement trends, carpet tiles give you the warmth and texture you love without the maintenance issues. Mix and match patterns to create a unique style or grab a bunch of colours in the same shade range for that artsy mosaic look.
8. Cozy fireplaces
Whether you’re adding the finishing touches to a classy Victorian-inspired library or building a cuddle corner for weekly movie nights with the significant other(s), nothing beats the allure of a fireplace. And thanks to newer technologies, you can have one without the smoke or soot!
If you want real flames, an ethanol fireplace is your best bet. Stick it in an existing fireplace or firepit or grab a standing or wall-mounted model. If curious pets and small children aren’t a concern, you can also get a tabletop version. On the other hand, if you want the option of warmth, the look of flames without the fire hazard, or both, an electric fireplace is a great alternative.
9. Wonderous wallpaper
Wallpaper is taking over in this year’s basement trends. No longer a symbol of outdated homes or prone to problems, this chic wall décor option elevates any space. It comes in a wide range of designs and colours to match any aesthetic and is one of the easier options for installation.
If your basement décor is a bit flat, consider using wallpaper to add a bit of texture or pops of colour in a room. You can also go all out with intricate designs and even murals to set the scene!
10. Architectural lighting
No matter the room, good lighting is key. It makes it functional, allowing you to see in general or focus on specific tasks, and can even influence the atmosphere. This year’s basement lighting trends will help you create an inviting and comfortable space perfectly suited to your needs.
Some modern basement ideas for lighting draw attention to beautiful architectural details such as the stairwell, recessed areas, and soffits to really make the space pop. For a bit of visual interest, place a few colourful recessed lights in these spots. You can also use interesting and unusual fixtures for added elegance.
Trends may come and go, but all of them focus on a central theme: comfort and functionality. If you’re looking to create a timeless space, you’ll want to avoid these outdated trends.
- Massive stone fireplace. Ditch the large stone fireplace unless it’s built into the wall or has a lot of character. If you have the option, go for something more modern, like a wall-mounted ethanol model.
- Support columns as accents. Let’s face it, random plywood or concrete columns aren’t aesthetically pleasing. Cover them up with drywall and use neutral colours for best results.
- Lines on the walls. While this element can add character to a room, the average DIYer can’t paint lines perfectly straight. Over time, the butchered lines lose their appeal, and the style becomes outdated quickly.
Some decorative elements, however, are classic. They stand the test of time and never fall out of style. Here are a few reliable basement renovation options.
- Integrated furniture. If you’re going to use your basement to store seasonal items anyway, you might as well install some integrated furniture. Invest in custom storage solutions if you want to store something specific, such as your cross-country skiing supplies, or a generic out-of-the-box shelving unit to display your movies and games.
- Pale wood. Versatile and bright, pale wood can be used as a decorative element, shelving, or furniture in any space.
- Finished concrete floor. Concrete provides excellent thermal insulation and is humidity resistant, making it the ideal basement floor covering. You can dye it to match the rest of your aesthetic, whether that be a cozy neutral tone or a contemporary burgundy.
- Recessed lighting. This is one of the best ways to add extra lighting to your basement. Install a dimmer so that you can adjust the light based on time of day.
Basement décor has never looked better
If you’re considering a basement renovation, these basement trends are a great jumping off point. Though, remember that being happy with your basement years down the line is more important, so choose styles that you actually like and enjoy. And of course, consider your needs as well as your budget. For more inspiring design ideas, check out our completed basement projects.
Briar Von Gerl is an engineer, inventor, and artist, and her favourite pastime is creating things. She applies her previous millwork design and creative experience to her writing, hopefully inspiring others to create something themselves.
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