Could Your Home be Enhanced by a Basement? Find Out Here
Basements have had a rather bad press in recent years, but, if done well, they can be a great addition to your property
Quite simply, excavation is expensive work to undertake – and when it’s done beneath an existing building that needs to remain standing throughout, it’s even more costly.
Nonetheless, basement extensions are becoming more and more popular, despite the cost, because in areas where property prices are high, people still want to find more space, especially when lofts or side extensions aren’t possible.
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Basements don’t need to be mega-structures. One of the most popular ways to add some wine storage is with one of these cylindrical spiral wine cellars. As basement spaces go, these can be very cost-effective.
While features such as exterior light-wells and full-height glazing can make basements expensive, small and cost-effective designs can lend themselves to particular functions. If the space is needed, as here, for a utility room, then you can save on the cost of letting in daylight.
Other popular uses for basement rooms that don’t require natural light are saunas, home cinemas and music rehearsal or recording studio spaces.
1 Create a void
Generally, however, people like to have as much natural light as possible and are looking to create additional sleeping, living or kitchen spaces when they extend their houses with a basement. All such spaces benefit from daylight and, in many cases, the art of good basement design is all about letting in the natural light.
In this house, where Planning Permission prevented any external lightwell at the front, the solution was to create a void in the ground floor, giving a wonderful double-height space to the basement living room and allowing daylight to pour down from above.
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One of the benefits of this arrangement is that one gets ‘multiple reading of the spaces’: that is, you can see the same space more than once from different viewpoints within the house. This is a classic technique for creating the impression of a larger property.
The same technique has been used here but on a smaller scale. Again, there was no opportunity to add windows at a standard height, so the daylight comes down from above and is ‘bounced’ off the plain white wall to illuminate the space.
The subtle lighting and simple grey décor give this bedroom an understated yet stylish feel.
With this bedroom, orientated in a similar way, a different approach has been used.
Here, an external lightwell, large enough to provide space for outdoor seating, has been added, with full-height glazing to create the impression that this room isn’t really below ground.
If a full external lightwell isn’t achievable or affordable, external steps leading up to ground level can help reduce the sense of being underground.
This indoor/outdoor shower room feels full of light thanks to the external steps. The cool concrete walls and floor link the space to the steps outside, while the timber joinery adds warmth.
If your basement level isn’t entirely below ground, it can be tempting to install high-level windows, but this can make the space feel even more claustrophobic.
Even though this room isn’t entirely below ground, an external area has been excavated to floor level, which has allowed full-height glazed doors to be installed, making this room feel light, spacious and connected with the garden.
Here, a lower-ground floor, which is not entirely below ground, has been created and extended to house a family kitchen/dining/living space. It opens out onto a terrace at the same level, with steps leading up to the garden.
There’s an added benefit to this conversion, as the roof of the extended lower level doubles up as a handy outdoor terrace space for the upper-ground floor, with steps that lead down to the main garden.
How would a basement conversion benefit your home? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.