Make the Most of Natural Light in Your Basement

by Rachel Laurendeau on September 22, 2012

When finishing a basement, it is important to plan out your lighting to ensure that you make the most cost-effective choices while providing the best quality of light possible in your new living space. No matter how well finished your basement, if it is dark and unwelcoming or if only certain areas are well lit, it will not get used nearly as much as you might have thought it would, were it well lit and inviting. However important your lighting plan, nothing beats natural light in a home. Here are some tips to help you make the most of the natural light in your house’s basement.

If you are lucky enough to have large basement windows, make the most of all the natural light you have and let the sun shine in!

• If your basement will house a bedroom, check the local building code as they generally stipulate the need for at least one egress (exit) window in each bedroom. Egress windows are large enough for a person to crawl through in an emergency and the building code will specify a minimum size requirement. While this is a code issue, you’ll benefit in that the larger window will provide more light into the bedroom.

• Choose window treatments that allow light to filter in. Understandably, you will want to choose something that prevents people from looking in since your basement windows are at ground level. Consider privacy shades or blinds that allow light to filter through while preventing curious onlookers from peeking in.

• Keep garden plants and shrubs away from windows or keep them well pruned so that they do not block light from entering.

• A strategically placed large mirror can also help reflect the natural light from your windows around the space.

• If you don’t have very much natural light, you may also want to choose to paint your walls in light or bright shades to keep things airy. If you are really set on using darker shades, perhaps use them on smaller wall surfaces and use a bright contrasting color or, simply use those darker colors in your decorative elements such as area rugs or furnishings.

• Of particular importance, don’t use a dark color on the ceiling. Most basement ceilings are fairly low so a painted ceiling can feel quite oppressive.

• Believe it or not, hanging bright artwork in the basement is another great way to bring in color and texture. Large landscape images can even feel like windows to the outdoors and add a sense of light.

Before starting your basement home improvement, make sure there are no foundation repairs required and consider basement waterproofing to ensure that your investment is protected.

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