The Glories of a Basement

The Old House Web

One huge benefit of building a new house is the basement. When starting from scratch, you can make sure the ceilings are tall and the space is water tight. Sometimes new house basements can appear cavernous. Here's how to make your lower level a cozy, charming place instead.

Ask anyone who has lived with an old basement and they will tell you--it's not pretty. Most old house basements receive periodic (if not frequent!) water seepage and have low lying pipes. Bump your head a few times and you'll quickly long for a new house!

New Ideas

When designing a new house, remember that you have that rare opportunity to do it right the first time. One important consideration is the height of the basement. While an eight foot foundation is common, more and more people are going with nine and ten foot depths to expand their remodeling options.

If your home site allows, go for a deep basement that will "walk out" to the yard. This can impart a classic old house feel and offer many landscaping opportunities.

Carving Out the Rooms

Many people design their basements as one large room for the kids to play in. This is a functional design, but one that can make the space seem starkly "new." One way to avoid this feeling is to carve out three or more rooms or areas for different uses.

You can use full or half walls to divide the spaces, but the important thing is to give each space its own personality. You may want a bedroom and bathroom for guests; a television room for the kids; a hobby or craft room; and an exercise room. Each room can be a comfortable size, yet have its own identity. Use cabinetry, door and window trim, soft lighting and paint colors to blend the spaces together and with the first floor finishes.

A new house basement can be a wonder space for the family--free from all the damp, darkness and worries of many old house basements. Just remember to add in a few charming old house touches.

About the Author

Allison E. Beatty is an avid old house enthusiast who has been renovating houses and writing about them for more than 10 years. She contributes regularly to national newspapers, magazines and web sites. She lives in an 1888 Victorian era home.

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