How To Make Basement Apartments NOT Feel Like Basements

In Living smallby Morten Storgaard

There are many deciding factors that go into picking the right place to live.  Generally, the top two areas that will guide you are location and money.

But, what do you do if the best location you can get for your money isn’t ideal?
More importantly, are there ways to take a damp space and make it feel open and airy?

One type of apartment that is often the hardest to reimagine is the basement apartment.  But, this is sometimes the only choice because it is far less expensive than renting apartments on a higher floor.

So, is there a way to make your basement apartment not feel like a basement at all?  Yes!

Here are some easy tips to help take your basement apartment from cold and dark to light and delightful.

What Exactly Is A Basement Apartment?

Basement apartments can be found in just about any type of apartment.  They are especially common in houses that have been transformed into individual units.  Often times the basement will be completely remolded so that someone can comfortably live there.

While plenty of people live in basement apartments, they do come with their downside.

People who have lived this way have found many problems within a basement setting that make living hard. 

Here are some of the most common problems people have with living in a basement apartment:

  • Lack of natural light
  • Space feels dark and cramped
  • Sudden changes in temperature
  • Cold Draft
  • Noise from tenants living above
  • No easy outdoor access
  • Feelings of seclusion or separation

With any type of apartment, there is going to be something that bothers everyone.  This is because, unlike houses you own, apartments are “take them as they come” dwellings.

But, that doesn’t mean that there are not ways to improve your living situation!

Here are some things that we recommend:

Find The Light Where Possible!

The biggest challenge of living in a basement apartment is that there is hardly any natural light.  This is because the apartment is technically underground which makes it difficult for light to get in.

Plus, those ground-level windows don’t do much to let that light spread around the room.

The trick to making the light you have work for you is to find unique ways to make it a focal point of your apartment. 

Try to keep the space around your basement apartment windows clear.  This means that you should use light window dressings and avoid heavy fabrics for curtains.  The best way to do this is to use a combination of sheer light-colored drapes with retractable blinds.  This way you can get the privacy you need while letting as much light in as possible.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you want to avoid keeping things on your window sill.  Even the smallest of plants can block off the light to your apartment.  Try installing a small wall shelf next to your window instead.  This way you can still neatly display your favorite things without taking away any natural light.

Paint Choice Is Key

The best way to keep your basement apartment from feeling like a tomb is to not paint it that way – unless that is your type of thing.

Keeping your color pallet light and breezy will be key to making your space feel open and endless. You will also want to learn more toward cooler tones and try to avoid warm tones if you can.

Rich warm tones like reds and oranges can make a room feel aggressive.  Bold walls like these are fun when you have the space to play with.

But, with a basement apartment, rich tones won’t lend itself correctly to such a unique space.  Light cool tones like lavender and beach blue are a great choice for making space seem friendly.

When in doubt – go gray!  Cool gray tones are great for these types of space because it is a neutral color without being boring like white. 

Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that you should avoid bold colors in your basement apartment either.  It just means that you have to find other creative ways to let bold colors tell a story.

Light walls will pop when paired with color accents light bold throw pillows and bright colored artwork.  It is all about finding what makes the space feel more inviting.  But, it is also important to balance your own sense of style against seemingly boring colored walls.

 

Quality Air Control

Another common problem people have with living in a basement apartment is the quality of the air.  Living underground like that can sometimes feel constrained.  This often has little to do with the actual size of the apartment and more to do with the air flow.

One way to combat the feeling of stuffiness is to keep the windows open.  In basement apartments, you are lucky to have one window, let alone two!

So, keeping whatever windows you have open for air flow will be vital.  This will help to alleviate any stuffy feelings your apartment has.

However, keeping the windows open at all times is not always possible.  This is especially true if you live in an area that experiences all types of seasons.  So, what do you do in the colder months when you need to clean the air in your home?  Here are some other ways you can control the quality of the air in your basement apartment:

  • Dehumidifier

DeHumidifiers are a great way to take away moisture from the air, depending on what you need.  These devices turn water into a mist that will your home and makes it easier for you to breathe.

They also do a great job of making an apartment that is underground feel more open.

There are two things to keep in mind when buying a humidifier for your basement apartment.  This is what type of humidifier you will need.  These devices work with either cold or warm water to control the air.  Each type of water offers a different experience.

Tip
Here are the dehumidifiers we recommend for small spaces. They work especially great in living areas because they are silent (and reasonably priced!).

Our advice is to find a dehumidifier that does both!  This way you can completely customize your breathing experience depending on what you need at that time.

  • Oil Diffusers

Another great way to control the air flow in your basement apartment is to invest in a great oil diffuser.  Much like humidifiers, diffusers use cool or warm water to create a mist that fills the space.  But, they do one more magical thing that helps make any living space feel more inviting.

You use diffusers with a combination of water and essential oils.

These oils add that extra layer of comfort that your apartment may be missing.  Best of all, the experience is completely customizable.  Each oil has its own special purpose.

Citrus-based oils are great for elevating moods and masking smells.  Oils like peppermint and lavender do a wonderful job of relieving stress and anxiety.  Plus, your apartment will be instantly filled with amazing scents that make your apartment feel friendly and welcoming.

  • Air Filters

One last thing you can do to help improve the quality of air in your basement apartment is to see about air filters.  This means that you will have to talk with your landlord or management company to see if they already have them in place.

Many times, basement apartments are already fitted with some sort of air regulation system.  This is sometimes required by law since basements were not meant to be livable.

Check with your landlord to see if your apartment already has an air filtration system.  Then, check to make sure that the filter is being regularly checked and replaced if needed.

Don’t Be Afraid To Be Bold

It can be very easy to feel limited by a certain space like basement apartments.  It may seem like there is no way to make bold strokes when living in such a dark place.

However, living in a basement apartment is the best time to be bold.

What better way to transform a dark dungeon feeling home than with bright bold moves of color and creativity?  So, what is the best way to be bold while still making your space livable?

Here are some imaginative ways you can transform your basement apartment into a livable work of art:

  • Large Art Pieces

It may seem counterintuitive to put large scale art in such a dark space.  However, you should face the downsides of your apartment head-on and not avoid big moves like this.  Large artwork does much more than add some color to your home.  It can completely change the way the room feels.

There is one major rule about buying artwork that applies to even the least expensive pieces.  Don’t buy it, unless you can’t live without it.  Different pieces of art speak different things to everyone.

Imagine seeing a piece of art that brings you absolute joy.  Placing this art front and center in your home will make your basement apartment bolder.

But, it will also be a daily reminder of the joy you have in your life.

  • Step Up Your Accent Wall Game

Accent walls a great way to showcase personality and style while asserting your boldness.  But, what is the best way ti approach an accent wall in a basement apartment setting?  There is always the option of paint.  However, it is also important to keep the walls of your basement apartment light and bright.

One way to make a great accent wall is to do so with plants.

This will not only help to bring a little nature to your space, but it can also help improve the air quality too!  Smaller plants, like succulents, are a great way to go. Any plant that doesn’t require direct sunlight will be ideal.

There are plenty of ways to build these accent walls.  Using creative solutions like wood pallets or wall mounted vases are a great place to start.

Imagine coming home every day to a beautiful wall of greenery.  This will certainly make your open feel less cramped and will be a great conversation piece for friends!

  • Invest In Really Great Lighting

One area of your basement apartment that you don’t want to skimp on is the lighting.  This is especially important since natural light will be so limited in this type of space.

One wall to go is pocket lights.  Pocket lights are small direct lights that install directly into the ceiling.

Because ceilings are lower, this will help to direct more light to the entire basement apartment.  Along with standard lighting, you should also consider decorative lighting.  Strings of twinkle lights can take your damp dark space and make it feel like a magical wonderland.

This helps to not only brighten the entire space but also can set a relaxing tone that your apartment may be missing.

Final Thoughts

Many times our problems with the places we live are directly tied to our perception of what living is.  Instead of seeing your basement apartment as a tomb, see it as a fun and creative challenge.  Just remember the basics:

  • Natural light
  • Light colored walls
  • Bright and bold art pieces
  • Creative solutions for decorating

Most importantly, have fun with it.  This is your apartment, but it doesn’t have to be your problem.  Step out of your comfort zone and experiment.

Who knows, you may even come up with some great tips for transforming your space that the world may need to know!  Good luck.

 

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