Turn Your Basement into a Home Office

Think your only option for building a home office begins and ends with an addition or kicking Uncle Louie to the curb? Think again.

The basement has long since stopped being a repository for chipped furniture, boxes of broken toys and extra lawn equipment. Savvy homeowners are cleaning out and cleaning up the room down under for a variety of purposes and in a variety of price ranges, even if a luxury basement renovation isn’t in the financial plan.

All You Need is a Dumpster and a Dream

Raising the once-lowly basement to room status begins with a thorough clean out, easily and cost-effectively accomplished with a dumpster and a free weekend. Sketching out a plan is much easier — and more fun — when the space you have to work with is clutter-free. The point is, before you get married to a plan, evaluate your available raw space first. You never know what ideas might spring from an empty room.

Evaluating the Space

Nothing drives up project costs faster than moving wiring, heating/cooling systems and plumbing fixtures, so before you get your heart set on a plan consider your budget. You’ll also need free wall space for shelving, cabinets and a desk. Is a landline telephone a requirement? If so, purchase a satellite-system set of cordless phones that requires power but no jack. And don’t forget to keep heating, water and electrical systems easily accessible in case they need repair.

Needs vs. Wants

Once the nuts and bolts of your project are set, it’s time to imagine your workspace. Although luxury basement renovations often include custom built-in cabinetry, enlarged windows, sheetrocked ceilings and recessed lighting, an attractive home office doesn’t require these high-end finishes.

For example, painting the ceiling — the entire ceiling, including pipes, wires and beams — with a matte black paint provides a finished look at a fraction of the cost of sheetrock. Add track lighting and you’ve made yourself an elegant, contemporary office space.

Eliminate the cost of built-in cabinets and opt for inexpensive open shelving instead; coordinate them with color-matched binders for an easy and stylish organizational fix. Paint the background a soothing, neutral color and choose looks-like-hardwood laminate flooring instead of the real thing for looks-nice, cleans-easy care.

Finally, add throw rugs, a desk lamp and easy-care plants for your cheerful new space. And don’t forget: no more procrastinating!

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