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Basement Renos – Where to Save and Where to Splurge

Everybody wants to maximize their home space. Whether it’s a play area for the kids, a home office, a workout area or additional space for family gatherings, a basement renovation will give you the space you desire while also increasing the value of your home. Although renovations can be costly, you can still create a basement retreat on a budget. “For many years now I’ve been making basement apartments come to life on HGTV’s Income Property—I’ve got all the tips and tricks to extend your basement into a fabulous living space.”

Paint and Save

When it comes your basement walls, let your architectural envelope be as bright as possible. My go to color is OC-55 by Benjamin Moore. Avoid tones that can dull a basement space, particularly when natural light is limited.   Accenting with warmer colors or adding pops of bright hues can add character inject some of your personality.

When dealing with dark and dated finishes in your basement, keep it basic. Removing old paneling, brick or stone often requires costly demo and disposal as well drywall repairing.  Consider painting these finishes for a budget-friendly, fresh and contemporary look.

Tip: For a professional finish, fill in any gaps, holes and imperfections with spackling compound. Sand your paneling lightly prior to painting to remove the sheen or finish. Paint will adhere better.


Budget-Friendly Flooring

Keep it practical and choose from a wide array of laminate flooring types. Never use natural wood floors for basement renos, since it has a tendency to shrink and expand with temperature and humidity changes, resulting in gaps and warping. If your basement is prone to dampness and water, choose a vinyl wood floor—it’s incredibly realistic, and much easier to clean. Finish the space with an area rug for added warmth, and to create a overall cozier atmosphere.

Custom Cabinets for Less

Balancing storage space and living space is essential for basements. Invest in built-in cabinets to maximize on linear storage for your books, toys and personal items. At our design firm we work with talented carpenters who can take readymade, big-box-store cabinets and turn them into custom-look built-ins.” Adding drywall or filler pieces around cabinets creates a custom look while adding continuity to the space by spanning cabinets from end to end and floor to ceiling.


Splurge on Lighting

Invest in pot lights that are flush with the ceiling, and a dimmer switch to control your lighting needs. Pot lights can be installed in both drywall and suspended ceilings. Make sure to add table and floor lamps for a bright yet cozy atmosphere and to supply functional lighting throughout the space. Check out Royal Lighting to get some inspirational ideas for basement lighting options

If you’re a seasoned DIYer, then finishing a basement might be right up your alley. However, if that’s not your thing, bring in a professional designer and carpenter. Some guidance on space planning and clever design tips can help maximize your budget, and create a multifunctional space that accommodates all of your family’s needs.


  1. Embellish small basement windows with floor-to-ceiling drapes, to create the illusion of height.
  2. Measure basement-access-areas, before purchasing your basement furniture to assure pieces fit through doorways and down stairs.

About the Author: Dvira Ovadia is an award winning interior designer and has a regular column in the Toronto Sun called Living by Design

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