Your Basement is Going to Be Lovely if You Consider these 5 things

Krista sitting in a walkout basement renovation holding a gaming controller.

Krista is in a project basement getting her game face on.

After the kitchen and the bathroom, lower levels, more commonly, but less luxuriously known as basements, are next in line for being the most common renovation project. What are the top things you need to consider when you go to renovate your lower level? We’ll tell you below. 

1. Function & Flow

No, this isn’t a yoga class, but we do think proper space planning can offer a spiritual awakening. What we mean by this alliterative heading is to consider the space adjacencies. Is the bathroom easily accessible to the living area as well as the bedroom? If you were to entertain in this area, would someone be able to sleep through the party, or does the bedroom share a wall with the entertaining area? These types of things are how we come up with layouts that are fully functional for every activity that may occur in the space. 

Walkout basement bar and table in background- with words over overlaid: Function & Flow - Consider the space adjacencies. Is the bathroom easily accessible to the living area & the bedroom?

2. Safety First

We listed it second, but that doesn’t mean it’s not paramount. As per the Alberta building code, proper egress windows must be installed in all sleeping areas. It’s even better if they are on every window. Egress windows must be large enough for an adult to exit in case of an emergency. If the current windows are not large enough, a trough must be dug in the soil surrounding the home to allow for the installation of a larger window. Egress windows are not only a required safety feature, but they provide additional light that can turn a dark, dingy basement into a bright, luxurious entertaining area that everyone in the family can’t wait to relax in.  

Walkout basement baskets filled with blankets & pillows. Text overlaid: Safety First: Ensure proper egress (exit) windows are installed in any sleeping areas.

3. & 4. Sound Dampening & Insulation 

We mentioned a lower-level bedroom sharing a wall with an entertaining area, but how about a ceiling? Adding extra insulation between the main floor and the lower-level ceiling will keep everyone’s peace of mind. No one has to walk on eggshells upstairs if someone is sleeping on the lower level and the lower level can make all the noise they want if it’s upstairs that needs peace. 

Speaking of insulation, not to get too technical on you but the right insulation is important to create a warm and comfortable environment. Concrete slabs that aren’t heated will leech heat, but an insulating air pocket or a super-cushy underlayment can help to make your lower level feel cozy and inviting. 

View from basement to bright front entry with text overlaid: Sound dampening. Add extra insulation between main level and lower level for sound dampening.

View from sofa table and chairs behind a sectional sofa. Spiral stairs in the background. Text overlaid: Insulation. Create the right air gap for below grade insulation between the drywall and the outer membrane to reduce condensation.

5. Not All Flanges are Created Equal

Installing a toilet flange or relocating a toilet flange in a concrete slab requires extra consideration. Installation is more labour intensive than on other floors, so allow additional time and cost for installation.  It’s much better to plan plumbing stack and toilet locations before the slab is poured.   

Bathroom with dark accents behind overlaid text of: Toilet flanges. Replacing or installing toilet flanges on concrete requires extra consideration & time.

6 & 7. Drop That HVAC & Cold Air Returns in the Basement

Ceiling heating vents do nothing but blow hot air onto your head. That hot air quickly travels back up to the ceiling to warm the plaster. We’re sure it’s nice and toasty up there, but the rest of the room remains cold. This is even more important in lower levels which are already naturally the coldest place in the home. The idea is to create a circle of air where hot air is released at the base of a wall and cold air is returned to the furnace to be recirculated. It’s energy-efficient and will help you to stay cozy all winter long. 

Basement projection screen and sectional with soccer on the screen and a foosball table to the left. Text overlaid: Cold Air Returns. Don't forget cold air returns to the furnace in the lower level. They should be on each level.

Krista sitting on sectional in basement renovation with text overlaid: Drop that HVAC. Hot air rises. Ceiling vents do nothing but blow hot air on your head and waste energy trying to heat up the space. Drop heating vents to the floor.

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the considerations that should be given when dreaming up your basement renovation. As always, these are general suggestions. A professional designer will dive deep into what makes you tick and how best to arrange your basement to serve how you live. When you’re ready to create a luxurious and cozy lower level, let’s talk