The Top 43 Basement Apartment Ideas
The phrase “basement apartment” doesn’t exactly bring to mind a life of luxury. But you don’t need to let this undeserved stereotype dictate how you approach your own living space.
Even if you own a single-family home, think about converting your basement into a guest suite or rentable apartment. These are both excellent ways to add value to your property.
Decorating a trend-forward, comfortable basement apartment is as easy as any other home. You just need a few tricks up your sleeve. Keep reading for some great basement apartment ideas that prove that basement-living doesn’t need to be cold and drab.
1. Bar Ideas for Basement Apartments
Basement bars are very common in contemporary homes. While you don’t want to sacrifice functional living space to install a bar in your basement apartment, this can be a great addition to a basement suite that serves as a guest room.
Building a simple wet bar into your finished basement is more useful than you might think. After all, many home bar designs basically double as tiny kitchens. So don’t add an entirely new bar area to your basement apartment. Instead, consider engineering a space that acts as a kitchenette as well.
Whether your basement bar takes up an entire room or a few square feet, be sure to give it some personality. Hardwood floors are a classic choice that will stand up to accidental spills and scuffs. Include plenty of storage in your bar design in the form of cabinetry, shelving, and a dedicated beverage cooler.
2. Bathroom Ideas for Basement Apartments
Since space is often in short supply in a basement apartment, you’ll want to pay close attention to the room’s details. Use a light color palette to maximize light and visual space in your basement bathroom. Dark shades should be reserved for small accents — avoid using them for any large surfaces.
Choose decor that’s also functional. Swap out your regular bathroom mirror for a traditional medicine cabinet with built-in storage. Hang shelves over your toilet for even more storage space. Baskets can help keep things that won’t fit into a cabinet or closet well-organized.
Ideally, your finished basement apartment is well-heated. But if not, invest in several plush bathroom rugs. A wall-mounted towel warmer is a compact way to add comfort and luxury to your basement bathroom.
3. Bedroom Ideas for Basement Apartments
Choose a light-to-medium paint color for your bedroom walls. Painting or wallpapering a single accent wall can help make the space feel more open without sacrificing style. Hang a large statement mirror on one wall to further brighten up the room.
Basement windows are rarely as large as ground-level ones. Take full advantage of the room’s natural light. Full-length curtains may look awkward on smaller windows, so opt for custom-sized blinds instead.
The last thing you want is for your basement apartment bedroom to feel like a dungeon. Install a compact light fixture overhead — supplement with additional recessed lighting if necessary. String lights can help create a cozy atmosphere.
If your bedroom floor features tile or hardwood, lay down a plush area rug. Not only will this be more comfortable, but it can also help keep your basement bedroom warm during the winter months.
4. Decoration Ideas for Basement Apartments
When choosing decor for your home, don’t think of it as decorating a basement. Instead, approach the space as you would any other apartment. Choose decor that’s both functional and stylish to save on square footage. And, perhaps most importantly, take full advantage of your apartment’s vertical space.
Hang wall-mounted decor high up to make the space feel taller and more open than reality. A simple gallery wall is an excellent way to fill empty wall space without adding bulk to your room design.
If your apartment is dimmer than you’d like, invest in decorative lamps or wall sconces. Large mirrors are another great way to maximize the amount of light in your living space.
Potted plants make versatile home decor. When it comes to decorating a basement apartment, though, there’s a good chance natural sunlight will be lacking.
Opt for faux plants or install a discreet grow light over your indoor garden. If your apartment has a bright window or two, low-light plant species may be an option.
5. Kitchen Ideas for Basement Apartments
If making your basement kitchen look as big as possible is high on your priority list, go with white cabinetry. Simple hardware will make the space look clean and tidy. Install cabinets and shelving close to the ceiling to maximize the available storage space.
Cabinets should make up the bulk of your kitchen storage. Floating shelves are an easy way to fill empty wall space and supplement your kitchen organization. Mix-and-match practical items and decor when designing your shelves.
To save on space, you may want to sacrifice some appliances. Ditching things like the dishwasher, microwave, and toaster can free up a ton of usable space. Think about how often you use these items and if it’s worth giving up your workspace to various countertop appliances.
6. Living Room Ideas for Basement Apartments
It’s easy to overlook your apartment’s living room design. Often, this space ends up being a catch-all for various furniture and decor. But implementing a few thoughtful decorating ideas can ensure your basement conversion feels like a home rather than a bunker.
Natural lighting is often hard to come by in any apartment. If you’re lucky enough to have a basement window in your living room, be sure to arrange your furniture to take full advantage of it. Add simple curtains to your basement windows for convenient privacy when you need it.
Conserve floor space by designing your living room around a built-in entertainment center or bookshelf. An L-shaped sofa is an excellent way to enjoy the comfort of a sectional without taking up so much room.
Carpeting will give a family room a more comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. If your basement apartment features cement or hardwood flooring, invest in a plush area rug to soften the space.
7. Modern Basement Apartment Ideas
Modern design is an excellent way to make a finished basement apartment feel fresh and up-to-date. Start with white or gray walls for a clean backdrop. Details like exposed brick or support beams will add intrigue without cluttering up the space.
Statement light fixtures are a staple in all kinds of modern decor. Since overhead space is often limited in a basement apartment, look to your walls instead. Unique sconces and floor lamps will brighten up your apartment with ease. Recessed lighting is another great option — LEDs are an affordable alternative to more expensive built-in fixtures.
Floating shelves can add lines and angles in a space without much else going on. Avoid cluttering up shelving and other surfaces — invest in a freestanding cabinet or hutch if you need more storage.
Modern design takes much inspiration from the minimalist movement. While you don’t need to do away with all unnecessary items, choose your decor carefully. Displaying fewer items in a single space will keep everything from fighting for visual attention.
8. Small Basement Apartment Ideas
Almost everyone knows that white makes a space look bigger. You can add style to a white wall by painting over existing brickwork, adding a wood overlay, or installing ceramic or marble wall tiles. If the white-on-white aesthetic isn’t for you, liven up the place with a single accent wall.
Find ways to give each space a dual purpose. Designing a family room that also doubles as a dining room will conserve valuable square feet. The same is true for combining a small bathroom with your laundry room. Even if you don’t opt for a full-on studio apartment, this technique can make a small space feel significantly larger.
Storage is a hot commodity in any living space. But space-efficient design ideas are especially important for those living in small basement apartments. Built-in shelves offer a great spot to display decor and maximize your storage space. Choose furniture with hidden storage compartments to keep your home well-organized at all times.
9. Basement Apartment Suite Ideas
Open floor plans aren’t just popular in single-family homes. An apartment suite — whether located in a basement or not — often looks and feels larger than its divided counterparts. If you’re willing to take on the design challenge of a suite apartment, then this is one of the best floor plans for a basement space.
Coordinating your furniture and decor is necessary to make a suite feel like one cohesive space. However, choosing items that are too matchy-matchy will dull your design as a whole. Select a broad style and color palette for your living area and give each “room” its own version of this theme.
Accent colors are quite useful in this type of space. Sprinkling pops of one or two colors throughout your apartment will bring together each living space.
When designing each section of your suite apartment, think about what is directly adjacent to it. For example, if you can easily see your kitchen from your living room sofa, you want to be especially careful to match the decor in these two spaces. Rooms that aren’t immediately visible to each other offer a bit more leeway in terms of design.
10. Unfinished Basement Apartment Ideas
While not ideal, you can absolutely turn an unfinished basement into a livable apartment. This is a great option if you’re halfway through a basement remodel or need a guest suite on short notice. As long as the space has an egress window or exterior door, you’re good to go.
Use hanging curtains or screen dividers to break up a studio apartment into multiple “rooms.” Wall and floor lamps will illuminate your basement dwellings until you install permanent fixtures.
A full-size kitchen might not be possible with an in-progress basement renovation. Instead, outfit a corner of the space for a small basement kitchenette.
If you have no plans to finish your basement apartment ceiling, paint the exposed beams and ductwork a single color. This will give the space a cleaner look and can make a low ceiling feel less imposing.
Basement Apartment FAQs
Not just any basement can be renovated into full-time living quarters. To legally turn a basement into an apartment, it must have large enough windows to provide adequate light and an escape route in case of an emergency. Or it must be a walk-out basement.
Other requirements may vary by region but often include things like plumbing, air quality, and heating. Always check with your local government before turning a basement into a bedroom or full apartment.
Because of plumbing and HVAC lines, raising a basement ceiling is rarely a viable option. But you can employ a few visual tricks to make your basement apartment ceiling at least look higher than it is.
Paint your ceiling a lighter shade than the surrounding walls. White is a great option. Skip ceiling light fixtures in favor of wall-mounted ones to preserve headspace. Place tall decor along your apartment walls to draw the eye up and create the illusion of higher ceilings.
If you’re a homeowner wondering how to get the most value from your basement, turning the space into a full-time apartment is a great option. Renting your basement to a tenant can bring in extra income and ensure the space goes to good use. A fully finished basement can also add to your home’s resale value in some real estate markets.