Let There be Light (In the Basement)

Whether you live in a basement apartment or you’ve converted the space below your house into an entertainment room, you’ve probably noticed that it can be pretty dark and depressing down there. Humans aren’t moles; we aren’t supposed to spend our daylight hours in darkness and when we do it can have a very real impact on our health, making us feel down and depressed. Thankfully, if you are a basement-dweller, there are plenty of things you can do to make the place lighter, brighter and more pleasant to be in.

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Here are some of the simplest things you can do to bring more light to the basement:

Use Bright Colors

The simplest way to brighten up the basement a bit is by painting the walls. You might think that you’ll have to paint the basement white if you want it to be light and bright, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Sure, white will probably give you the best results, but if you love bright pinks, blues and greens, there’s no reason why you can’t add them too perhaps as an accent wall.

Bright colors should not just be used on the walls, but your basement floor should be light and bright too, as should your couches, cushions, furniture and anything else that you feel it necessary to place in your basement for comfort.

Open Plan

Making your basement open plan is the way to go if you want it to feel lighter and more open. Even if your basement doesn’t have a window, it will appear lighter when there are fewer walls to break up the space. It might take a bit of work to get rid of any internal walls that aren’t necessary, but trust me, it will make your basement feel so much better.

Banish Clutter

If your basement isn’t part of your everyday living space, it can be so tempting to use it as a storage area, where you put all of the stuff cluttering up the rest of your home, but if you do this, when you are using the basement, it will feel dark and claustrophobic. So, invest in some functional storage options that don’t take up much space, go through your stuff and store the things you want to keep in the bins. Get rid of everything else and give the place a good clean. Once you’re done, the space will look a lot brighter.

The Right Lighting

Lighting is obviously of the utmost importance in the basement, where there is little if any natural light to be had. Usually, in dark spaces, I would recommend chandeliers and pendant lights for their superior light diffusing abilities, but because basement ceilings are often so low, I would suggest filling the space with wall sconces, table lamps, and up-lighting floor lamps. Lamps that direct the light up are much better at brightening the space than those that send light downwards for obvious reasons.

If you have a real problem with the lack of natural daylight you get, installing bulbs that mimic natural light will really help to boost your mood and make the place feel as natural as the other rooms in your home.

As well as lamps and light fittings, candles in hurricane lamps and fairy lights are also great in the basement, especially in the evenings when you’re looking for softer light.

Don’t Ditch Drapes

If you are lucky enough to have windows in your basement, even though privacy isn’t much of a concern, you should still consider adding some drapes because they will make the basement seem taller than it really is and that in itself can help to make the room feel so much brighter, when you don’t feel quite so cramped inside. A good set of drapes in a light color and fabric will similarly help to make the room feel more open.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

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Mirrors are always recommended to people in small or dark rooms, and it’s for a very good reason. Windows, as you know are reflective, and that means that any light that is in the basement will immediately be magnified. Not only that but because they reflect the room too, they are able to create the illusion of space where there is one. So, adding a few mirrors is a must.

It doesn’t just have to be mirrors either; adding as many reflective surfaces to your basement as possible, such as mirrored tables or glass and chrome furniture will increase this effect and give your basement a real lift.

Polished Floors

Polished floors, again, are pretty reflective. They might not be as good as mirrors, glass or chrome, but they will reflect the light back up into the room, so they are well worth having. Tiles, polished concrete, hardwood floors and even laminate all work well, but to get the maximum effect from them, choose light colors to make the space feel more open.

Stick to the Same Style

If your basement is part of your home, rather than an apartment, it is a good idea to decorate the space in the same style as the rest of your home. It’s a psychological thing more than anything, but if you leave your open, airy kitchen and enter a basement that is decorated more like a medieval dungeon than a modern home, it will instantly feel darker and more imposing. So, stick to your usual style, making it a bit lighter for the basement if necessary, and you will feel a lot more cheerful in the basement whenever you’re down there.

Pictures and Paintings

I’m sure that you want your basement to be warm and inviting as well as light and bright and that’s why it’s important to add a few personal artworks or posters to the walls. Ideally, these should also be light and bright, but if you can’t manage that, at least aim for some happy, cheerful scenes, rather than horror posters or a print of The Scream.

In fact, aim to bring in artworks that represent the natural world, and photos of outdoor spaces in particular. These will mimic the kinds of views you see out of the window, helping you to feel less like you’re in a basement. Again, this is more psychological than anything else, but it will make the space feel brighter.

Light Fabrics

By now, you should know that light colors are the key to making your basement brighter and that should extend to the fabrics you use too. Your rugs, throws and furniture covers should all be as light as possible to keep the basement bright and reflect the light. If you’re down with metallic fabrics, they’re even better because, they are of course, very reflective.

Install Bookshelves

The basement, as long as it isn’t damp, is the perfect place to store your books, not only because it will help you to keep clutter out of the rest of your home, but also because books are colorful and you can use their spines to add more color to the basement very easily.

Install a Fireplace

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Adding a wood burning fireplace to your basement instead of relying on heater to keep the place warm will not only ensure that you have another source of bright light to keep the space bright, but it will also make your basement a whole lot cozier than it was before and perhaps even turn it into your favorite room of the house.

Do you have a basement or live in a basement apartment? What do you do to make the place feel a bit brighter?

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