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Array Design Studio is located in Cleveland, Ohio and has designed projects throughout the Midwest

Universal Design for the Basement

  • Posted by Array Design Studio
  • On April 9, 2018
  • basement, tips, universal design

Let’s talk Universal Design for the Basement. Over the years the basement has taken on many rolls; extended family room, play room, entertainment centre, bar, home theatre, gym, room for the in-laws… the list goes on. These all great ways to utilize our lowest level. The most common request I get is, “Please don’t make it look like a refinished basement, we want it to be an expansion of our living space.”  The two largest challenges of this request, are windows, which are usually small and close to the ceiling, and the ceiling heights, which are generally lower than the first floor. Have no fear though, here are a few things you can do to make that space, a living space.


The best way to make a basement not feel like a basement is to insulate and drywall all the walls.  Then place a drop ceiling in between the dry walled ceiling areas that cover up the trunk lines, or the mechanical plumbing and HVAC. This will create the illusion of higher ceilings and give you access from the ceiling when you need to repair or reconstruct the space. And if you have small ones who are just learning how toilet paper works, this might be more often than you like. Or you could have big ones with ALL OF THE HAIR!

To create warmth, tone, texture, plus absorb sound, you can add fabric panels to the TV or window areas. Think theatre. Regarding art, always add pieces that represent the space, not just because you had nowhere else to put the college banners, which let’s be honest, sometimes the best place is the recycling bin.

To further create the sense of an open undefined space, paint the ceiling and walls the same color. Keep in mind that floor color is what sets the tone of the space, in terms of light or dark, not the ceiling.


Flooring is another factor in creating a warm family room/living space, instead of a cold basement floor area. LVP Luxury vinyl planked flooring is the latest and greatest in flooring. It can look like hardwood planked flooring or large tile, it’s easy to install, affordable, durable, waterproof, and creates a great sophisticated look.


I’m often asked if it’s worth putting a full bathroom in the basement, and the answer yes! Especially if you still have kids living at home, the more bathrooms the happier I say! It serves so many purposes and adds functionality to the entire space.  Another common question is should I add a kitchen?  In some cities basement kitchens are illegal, unless the basement is a walk out, but, installing a small bar sink, mini wine fridge and/or mini refrigerator is a great idea. You can even add a microwave or toaster oven built into the cabinetry. Personally, l love to use the space under the stairs.


Seating is a great way to create multiple uses for an open basement area. Most people re-purpose their old furniture from upstairs, but sometimes it’s better to start fresh and donate your old furniture elsewhere.


Lighting is very important to the space’s overall atmosphere. Recessed clip-in LEDs are the best form of lighting. They’re dimmable, have no bulbs or canned housing, and clip easily into the drywall. Plus, they last a lifetime and aren’t overly directional. You can also use floor and table lamps for more purposeful lighting and comfort.


That’s it from me on Universal Design in the Basement. Hope you learned a few tips and tricks along the way. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or think you might need additional help in right direction, you can always contact me laura@array-studio.com and follow us on Facebook @arraydesignstudios and Instagram @arraydesignstudio


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