6 Budget-Friendly Ideas to Spruce Up Your “Blah” Basement

finished basement

Tired of a ho-hum basement? Your basement doesn’t have to be the stereotypically dreary basement, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to fit it up—especially with these finished basement ideas.

The first step to a beautiful—and more interesting—-finished basement isn’t the most glamorous, but it is important. Before picking up a hammer or visiting a local flooring store, make sure the basement is waterproofed so the room doesn’t flood. Check the basement for signs of water leaks and past flooding, such as mold, water stains, or soft spots. The inspection should include the exterior of the home where there may be incorrect grading or aging drainage systems. (Read more basement waterproofing tips.) Once this step is done, it’s time to tackle the next—and more fun—steps to spruce up the basement.   

accent wall done with laminate flooring
Courtesy Armstrong Flooring

Draw all eyes to a new feature wall.

Feature walls are a top budget-friendly finished basement idea because it adds interest, especially if the basement needs a little extra “something.” A feature wall draws interest to a TV, fireplace, bar, or game table. It’s also a great way to break up a strong color or add color.

Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to add a feature wall to a basement. Wallpaper, paint, frames, tile, laminate flooring, wood, or luxury vinyl flooring are all good options for unforgettable accent wall. This finished basement idea can also be fairly inexpensive, especially if you contact a local flooring store about remnants. Remnants are tiles, laminate, or luxury vinyl planks left from a large job and typically sold at a discounted price. When adding a small feature wall, remnants can be the perfect budget-friendly solution that looks great.

Warm it up with wood.

Wood flooring used to be a “no-go” finished basement idea for homeowners. However, thanks to advances in flooring, you can now add the beauty of wood to basements. This statement does come with a disclaimer: solid wood flooring is not recommended for basements because it can warp or get damaged from porous moisture in the cement slab.

While solid flooring may not be an option for basements, there are three floors that typically cost less and work well in basements: engineered wood, laminate, and luxury vinyl plank flooring. Engineered wood and laminate are made of wood, but have a base that protects it from water damage. Luxury vinyl plank looks just like wood and is water-resistant and durable. All three basement flooring options can be do-it-yourself projects, reducing labor costs and keeping the project within a tight budget.

gray laminate floor installed as a diy flooring project

Dress up the ceiling.

A basement ceiling can make as big of a statement as a feature wall or beautiful flooring. Plus, there are a ton of options for unfinished and finished basements. The project can be as simple as painting an unfinished ceiling or adding planks (wood or flooring) to a ceiling for a big impact. (Ask a local flooring professional about remnants for a smaller basement and a lower cost.)

The colors for this finished basement idea are as variable as the options. A finished basement ceiling can be a bright pop of color to add interest, a muted color for a cozy effect, a neutral color to make a basement appear larger, or a warm shade of wood that coordinates with décor.

Make the floor a focal point with carpet tiles.

Want a basement floor option that adds interest like wood, but is softer and easy-to-install? Carpet tiles may be the answer. These basement floors are available in muted colors or bright pops of colors, making them good options for playrooms, rec rooms, and offices. They are also typically less expensive than carpet and are a fairly easy do-it-yourself option (saving money on labor costs).

These tiles can be bought in multi-colored options and laid out in a pattern. In a more formal room, carpet tiles can be laid out so they look like a regular carpet. Unlike regular carpet, these tiles are able to be pulled up and removed when they are stained by an inconvenient spill. If carpet tiles aren’t an option, contact a local professional about custom area rug that can soften a space and the blow to the budget.

Consider rubber flooring.

When a basement game room feels more like a jungle gym (or the room is a gym!), rubber flooring is a great way to spruce up the basement and add function to the space. Rubber flooring is available in sheets or tiles, making them fairly easy to install (and budget-friendly). They are also durable, water-resistant, and easy-to-clean.

Rubber flooring can be picked up and moved around when needed, perfect for spaces that are rearranged. They are tough enough to withstand the weight of gym equipment and play toys, though they are prone to ripping if items are dragged across them.

Have fun with dividers.

One of the easiest—and most budget-friendly—ways to add interest to a basement is to add dividers. Dividers can be as beautiful as they are functional. Barn doors and patterned curtains look great on closets or as divders that break up the space. These budget-friendly finished basement ideas are ideal in small basements, because they can break up the room and still make it look it larger.

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