Many people see their basement as a dark, damp, unusable space. However, while basements do have a tendency to be cavern-like, when the right steps are taken they can be finished and turned into a lavish extension of your home. When homeowners with unfinished or outdated basements decide to invest in renovating their basement, many decide to turn this unused space into an elegant guest suite.
Turning a basement into a guest suite is a great way to make use of unused space in your home, as you will be able to create a private residence in which your guests can feel at home while they are staying with you. However, for many homeowners, the thought of completely renovating their basement and turning it into a pleasant guest suite can be an overwhelming prospect. If you plan on turning your basement into a guest suite but are unsure what your next steps should be, here are a few tips to get you started.
Things to Consider Before You Start
Once you have decided to convert your basement into a guest suite, you may be excited and will immediately begin to think about flooring options, fixtures, and color schemes. However, before you begin designing your basement guest suite, it is important that you take a few things into consideration so that you are prepared once you begin work on your basement. If you rush into the project unprepared, you may find that you make mistakes that could prove costly down the road. To help you get started, here are a few things that you will need to consider when converting your basement into a guest suite.
Plan an Exit Route
The first thing that homeowners need to do when converting their basement into living space of any kind is to ensure that there is a fire escape route and exit, which can be accomplished by adding egress windows to your basement. Not only will egress windows help to ensure the safety of you and your guests, but they are also a requirement in many jurisdictions in order for a basement living space to meet code. In fact, if you do not have sufficient emergency escape routes, then your guest suite may not be classified as a bedroom when you go to sell your home, which could hurt your home’s resale value.
In order to meet building code, an egress window must be easy to open, and it must be big enough for escape and/or for a firefighter to climb into the house. You will want to take this into consideration when designing your guest suite so that you can make sure to incorporate sufficient room for egress windows into the layout.
Speaking of building codes, it is important that you familiarize yourself with building codes in your area. Before you begin construction, you will need to do research in order to ensure not only that your basement guest suite meets code, but you will also want to check if you can legally add a bedroom to your basement. You will also need to find out what permits will be required as part of your project, as you can face problems down-the-road if you do not get the proper permits before starting your renovation.
Next, you will want to make sure that you measure your basement thoroughly so that you know exactly how much space you are working with, as this will help you to determine what you can include in your guest suite, and how much room you can designate to different spaces/rooms. You should then take some time to figure out what you want to include in your basement guest suite, and begin making a design and floor plan. Unless you are planning on completing this project on your own, this is the point where you may want to consider researching and meeting with contractors in your area, as an experienced contractor will be able to help you to determine what you can realistically do with the space that you have.
Inspect Plumbing and Wiring
Once you have a floor plan and design in mind for your guest suite, you will need to inspect your home’s plumbing and wiring to see what needs to be done. Unless your basement was previously finished, it is likely that you will have to add plumbing and wiring to your basement, particularly if you want to include a bathroom in your guest suite. Do a thorough inspection of your home’s plumbing and wiring to see what expansions and upgrades will need to be done in order to bring your utilities down to your basement.
Add Moisture Protection
If your basement has not previously been waterproofed, you will want to consider adding some kind of moisture protection to your basement before you convert it into a living space. The fact is that basements tend to be more moist than the rest of a home, and they are prone to flooding and mold growth unless proper precautions are taken. Adding vapor barriers between your basement and the ground outside can help to prevent this moisture from entering your basement, creating a healthier, more enjoyable living space for you and your guests. You will also want to make sure that your property has sufficient grading and drainage so that water runs away from your foundation, as this can help prevent your basement from flooding as well.
Invest in a Sump Pump
Speaking of flooding, if you live in a wet area where groundwater causes frequent flooding in basements, you should consider investing in adding a sump pump to your basement before you begin construction. Considering how much money you will be investing in your basement in order to create a retreat for your guests, adding a sump pump is critical in order to protect this investment.
Tips for Creating The Perfect Guest Suite
After taking care of the initial planning of your basement guest suite, your next step will be to start working on choosing design elements. This is an important step as you will need to take some time to determine what features you should include in your basement guest suite in order to create a home-away-from-home for your guests.
Due to the dark and damp feel basements often have, you may feel uncertain of what you can do to make your guest suite feel inviting. By incorporating certain design elements into your guest suite, you can make your basement feel like an extension of your home. Let’s take a look at a few ways that you can transform your basement into a luxurious and inviting space for your guests
Lighting is Key
Let’s face it, one of the most common reasons homeowners do not take full advantage of their basement is due to the fact that basements have a tendency to feel dark and cave-like since they usually have very little natural light. Due to the dark nature of basements, it is important that you focus on lighting when designing your basement guest suite, as the right lighting can help your basement to feel warm and inviting. The best way to go about doing this is by adding plenty of artificial light and by layering different types of lighting. Choosing warm lights over bright white lights can help to create as natural an environment as possible. Of course, intermixing a variety of light fixtures such as sconces, pendants, and decorative ceiling fixtures can help to bring a sense of elegance to your guest suite in addition to providing much-needed light.
Think About Flooring Options
Next, you will want to start thinking about flooring options for your basement guest suite. While many basements have concrete floors, bringing in new flooring can go a long way in giving the space a warm homey feel. However, due to the damp nature of basements and the risk of flooding, it is not a good idea to use wood flooring in a basement. Your best option will likely be laminate flooring or tile, as these floors stand up better against moisture. You can then use area rugs to help bring additional color, style, and warmth to the space. You can also add an additional sense of luxury to the space by installing radiant floor heating. This will go a long way in combating the cold feeling many basements have, and it will ensure that your guests are comfortable year-round.
A Bathroom and Kitchenette is a Must
When trying to create a pleasant guest suite in a basement, it is critical that you include a full bathroom as you do not want your guests to have to come upstairs every time they need to shower or use the restroom. Having a full bathroom in a basement guest suite will help to make the basement seem like a private residence that will have your guests feeling as if they are at home.
You can create even more of a sense of luxury for your guests if you include a kitchenette in your basement guest suite. Oftentimes, it can feel awkward for guests to go through their host’s kitchen every time they want a snack or a drink. With a kitchenette in their basement guest suite, your guests will feel more at ease as they will have a sense of privacy and independence during their stay.
Put Yourself in Your Guest’s Shoes
When finalizing your design plans for your basement guest suite, it is important that you put yourself in your guest’s shoes; think about what touches you would want in a guest suite or even a hotel to make your stay comfortable and luxurious. Touches that maximize comfort will help to put your guests at ease such as high-quality bedding, linens, and toiletries in guest spaces, as will amenities that maximize convenience such as strategically placed outlets, plenty of storage, and a solid WiFi connection. You can also help to warm up your basement and make it feel more like a home by adding architectural finishes, as focusing on such details can help to bring a touch of elegance that will truly transform your basement.
Architectural Finishes Will Make The Space Pop
Of course, when designing your basement guest suite, your design will not be complete without architectural finishes. The right finishes can help to make the difference between a basement that feels industrial and one that feels inviting and that makes guests forget that they are staying in a basement. As you finalize plans for your basement remodel, here are just a few architectural finishes that you should consider incorporating into your design.
Create a Dedicated Entrance
Many homes have a walkout basement with a door that leads into their backyard. If this is the case, then you should consider creating a dedicated entrance for your guest suite with a quality entrance door similar to what you have on the front of your home. This can be the finishing touch that will truly make your guests feel as though they are staying in a private residence, as they will have their own entry and exit into their guest suite, helping to give them extra privacy. Of course, if you really want to create a sense of luxury for your guests, you should consider adding an entrance system to the entrance of your guest suite. An entrance system complete with pediment and pilasters will create a dramatic entry that will make it feel like guests are entering a luxury home rather than a basement.
Beams Bring Warmth
When looking for additional ways to bring warmth and elegance to a basement guest suite, adding rustic beams to the ceiling can be a great way to transform the space. Beams bring a unique feel to any living space that can make guests feel as though they have been transported to a log cabin in the mountains. Of course, wooden beams can come with a variety of maintenance challenges due to their tendency to warp, rot, and split, which can be particularly problematic in damp basements. This can make faux wooden beams a great alternative for basement guest suites, as they are resistant to moisture and are perfectly designed to reflect the hand-sawn look of natural beams.
Add a Touch of Elegance With Ceiling Medallions
Another way to give character to the otherwise blank canvas that is your basement’s ceiling is to add ceiling medallions. Ceiling medallions can help to bring an elegant feel to your guest suite by adding a finishing touch to your lighting fixtures. They can help to enhance the light fixtures you choose, and they can give the guest suite a classic look that will make guests forget that they are in a basement.
Finnish The Space With Crown Molding
Of course, no space would be complete without crown molding. Crown molding is a classic element in any home that will help to give your basement guest suite the feel that it is an extension of your home. If possible, carrying the same crown molding used in the rest of your home down into your basement can help to further blend your basement guest suite with the rest of your home. Another reason crown moldings make a great finishing touch in basements is that crown moldings can help to give the impression of height, making your ceilings seem higher, which can be helpful to distract from the low ceilings basements often have.
Turning your unfinished or outdated basement into a guest suite is a great way to make use of this space. Not only will your guests have a private place to call home when they are staying with you, but also, investing in your basement can increase the value of your home should you go to sell it down-the-road.
Once you start working on designing your basement remodel, it is important that you do not forget architectural finishes, as the right finishes can help to add those elegant touches to your guest suite that will make your guests feel at home while staying with you.
Feel free to contact us for more tips on how to transform your basement into a beautiful guest suite as well as to find out about how our architectural finishes can make your guest suite pop.