Basement conversion: How to design a family room - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Basement conversion: How to design a family room

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By Roberta Pescow

Do you love every part of your home except your dark, dingy basement? Your basement doesn't have to be a place you can't wait to leave. Transform your basement into a place where you'll actually want to spend time by converting it into a family room. Building a basement family room increases your usable living space and the resale value of your home while creating an environment that encourages togetherness with family and friends.

Preparing Your Basement

Before getting started with your new family room, you'll need to prepare your basement. These simple steps will help you get started:

1) Clear out all boxes, furniture and stored items from your basement and throw out what you don't need.
2) Vacuum and wash basement walls, floor and ceiling.
3) Check your entire basement for any mold or mildew, and scrub any affected areas with a solution of bleach and water in equal parts.
4) Have your basement checked for water leakage problems. If you need waterproofing or a pump installation, this is the time to do it. Simple humidity can be controlled with a dehumidifier.

Finishing Your Basement

Now you are ready to begin actually finishing your basement so that it can function as comfortable living space. Here's what you need to do

Insulate: Adding blanket insulation to any unfinished walls, ceilings and floors will help the room feel warm, cozy and dry. Be sure that the paper backing faces inward when you staple insulation against your joists.
Add plumbing: You'll be much happier in your new room if you don't have to head upstairs every time you need a restroom, a glass of water, or a sink to wash your hands before having a snack. Incorporating plumbing for a kitchenette, wet bar or even a powder room makes for a truly homey family area that will do double duty as a shelter during severe storms.
Examine your electrical needs: Be sure your basement electric wiring is up to code and you have enough outlets and power to run all the electronics your family loves. You may need to upgrade your electrical service or add more outlets to this area.
Update your lighting: Now is the time to install beautiful, stylish basement lighting to brighten the area.
Finish walls and ceilings: Cover cold, gray concrete walls and unfinished ceilings with drywall, plasterboard or drop ceiling panels. Fill any seams with small trim pieces or putty. Be sure to cut holes for your outlets and switches.
Install flooring: Warm up the harsh, painted concrete floor of your basement by installing friendlier flooring. Stain-resistant carpeting is warm and cozy if you're confident about total basement dryness. Otherwise, choose a floor that wipes clean easily.
Divide your space: If you want your basement space to function as separate areas for laundry, office, family room and powder room, you'll need to install additional internal walls/doors, or at least privacy curtains.

Creating Your Family Room

Once your basement is prepared and finished, you're ready for the fun part: Designing your living space. To create the perfect family room, consider:

Walls: Get just the right look and color for your walls with paint or wood paneling.
Seating: You'll need lots of comfortable seating to accommodate friends and family. Be sure to get at least one couch or loveseat and some chairs such as recliners that work for relaxing, watching movies or listening to music. Stain resistant fabrics will free you from worrying about spills.
Tables: Don't forget to add coffee and end tables so you'll have a place to put down drinks and snacks.
Storage: Think about attractive shelving to store your movies and music, and cabinetry for any media electronics. Don't forget about pantry furniture to keep chips and other non-perishable snacks handy. You'll also probably need some additional storage units to keep other items you need to store in the basement out of sight.
Electronics: Your family will appreciate you having the latest stereo equipment, gaming systems, flat screen TV and DVD player in the new room. You may also want to have an extra computer in this space.
Luxurious Convenience: You'll have the family room everyone wants to visit when you add a refrigerator, sink, microwave, wet bar, and small bathroom.
Guest accommodations: If one of your sofas has a pullout bed, your family room can double as a guest room.
Traditional games: If you have the space, add a pool table, ping-pong table or foosball set for some more active entertainment.

Family Room Tips

To make sure your basement family room project goes as smoothly as possible, consider these basic tips:

--Check local codes to make sure everything you plan is legal.
--Unless you are highly skilled with the more dangerous and technical aspects of electrical and plumbing work, consider hiring a licensed professional for your safety and success.
--Before hiring professionals, check their records with the Better Business Bureau.
--Never pay the professionals you hire in full until the work is completed to your satisfaction.

Generations of Fun

Converting your basement into a family room changes dull, ugly space into an attractive, useful place for your whole family to enjoy. When your kids grow up, you may even find they come back time and time again with their own kids to spend time in this wonderful room you created.


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