What’s the cheapest way to make an unfinished basement work as usable living/working space?
I work from home and plan to move my office from a crowded corner of our family room to our unfinished basement. Any extra basement space will be a play area for my two young kids. Money is tight & my husband and I aren’t handy, so I’d appreciate any tips or suggestions on how to do this and not dread going down there every day once it’s finished. I did find some great advice in these older threads 1
but have a few more specific questions and would love any updated information that might be available.
1. Ceiling - Should the ceiling (exposed joists) be painted dark brown, white or remain unpainted? The ceilings are low (7’1” to bottom of joists/7’8” to the ceiling) so I’d like to maximize the perceived height and I’ve seen all three ideas suggested as solutions.
2. Lighting – The main space is approx. 25’ x 20’ and has only one tiny window. My husband and I both hate fluorescent lights and prefer something that’s energy efficient, dimmable & pleasant to spend time in. Is halogen the way to go? Would 9 individual track light fixtures mounted between the joists be enough to light the space? (An electrician friend has suggested 6 but we’re worried that the area will still be dark).
3. Flooring - I think we’ve got any potential water issue handled (new basement windows) but I’m still hesitant to put an expensive floor down. I’m considering FLOR tiles for my office area (approx 10’ x 10’) and throw rugs/carpet remnants for the rest of the space.
4. Walls - We’re planning on renting a sprayer and sealing/painting the concrete walls white. I’m thinking about hanging fabric against the walls (just in my office area) to help soften the look but am worried it will look weird. Should I just put up bookshelves, posters and/or mirrors instead? Is there a way to make a huge bulletin board on the cheap?
Thanks for any advice or warnings you can give me.