DIY basement makeover with DIY storage cabinets using white upper kitchen cabinets
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DIY Budget Basement Makeover Ideas (Easy Weekend DIY Projects)

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Learn how to do a cheap basement makeover to create a room in your home the whole family will love

Are you looking for an inexpensive way to redo your basement? We were in the same predicament after we decided we needed to use our basement space to become a play area for our children. Luckily our basement was “finished”, but it was completely dated. Here are a few steps and products we used to do a cheap DIY basement makeover on a budget.

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read full privacy policy here.  

Easy Ways to Cheaply Makeover A Basement

1. Redo old and dusty drop ceiling tiles

2. Replace flooring if needed (luckily our carpet was in good enough shape)

3. Paint or get rid of wallpaper

4. Paint or update some of the basement molding, doors or beams. Making a few things white can really enhance a space!

5. Add extra storage space in your basement

5. Add extra living spaces, such as a bedroom

6. Decorate using items you already have and enjoy your space for your family

Cheap and Easy Basement Makeover Ideas

Basement Ceiling Makeover: How to transform your drop ceiling

Our basement had a drop ceiling and probably the construction grade for all homes built in the 1990s. I researched all sorts of different ways to redo the drop ceiling. Here are a few that I read about:

1) Tear out the drop ceiling and paint all pipes and wood black or the color of your choice. If this painting method sounds appealing, here are a few tips from the bloggers over at One Project Closer.

Pros: Gain extra footage in your ceiling height, no longer have a drop ceiling, looks nice when done

Cons: Have to tear out the current system, best if you spray paint on (therefore require a lot of prep work/cover current materials, extra soundproofing from tiles gone

2) Paint the current basement drop ceiling tiles

Pros: Pretty inexpensive

Cons: Time consuming, still may not look the best

3) Drywall the basement ceiling

Pros: Professional looking

Cons: Expensive to have someone else do, have to demo current ceiling, time-consuming and unable to easily read basement pipes or electrical wires.

4) Use vinyl drop ceiling tiles

Pros: Looks professional, brightens up space, can easily order boxes of 10, easy to install, limited mess

Cons: Still takes time to replace all ceiling tiles but not nearly as much as tearing the whole system out and then doing something else, is not as cheap as painting the existing tiles

What is the best way to redo a drop tile ceiling?

We chose to cover the existing tiles. This drop ceiling product was ABSOLUTELY AWESOME! You can just take the old ones out, but we decided to keep the old drop ceiling tile and just add these covers. As you can see in the picture, it really brightens our space. The tiles come in 2′ x 2′ covers so you can easily guess how many boxes of this product you will need. 

The difference between old drop ceiling tiles and new celiume stratford vinyl tiles in basement makeover

The full tiles were very easy to install. I worked in small sections. I would take the one old tile down and add the cover and place both back into the grid. If one needed to be cut, I used my scissors to carefully cut a cover to match the existing tile.

Celuime Stratford Ceiling Tiles in DIY Basement Makeover

It was amazing that just a nice pair of scissors. You do have to be careful to not cut the tile too small. It will hang down if it doesn’t fit in your current drop ceiling tracks.

I cannot say enough about how much this simple drop ceiling cover product, changed the look of our basement. I know it is hard to spend money on a CEILING…but you will be glad you did. I never realized how much a dated and slightly dingy ceiling can really impact a space.

We wrote a full review of the product here. Be sure to check it out.

Here are some other drop ceiling tiles to consider

And if you are a price comparer like myself, links to see how much you will pay for the product we used.

Amazon

Ceilume Stratford Tiles (the ones we used)

Genesis Icon Relief Tiles: Great counterpart to compare to the Ceilume brand

Home Depot

Ceilume Stratford Tiles (the ones we used)

Single Raised Panels: Slightly cheaper, but not as much depth.

Flamingo Panel Grid Panel Ceiling Tile

Decorative Tin Ceiling Tiles: Just in case you want to consider something completely decorative and different!

Lowe’s

Genesis Icon Relief Tiles

Armstrong White Ceiling Tiles

I never thought I would LOVE vinyl drop ceiling tiles so much!

If you get any inspiration from my cheap DIY basement makeover, I really hope you try this drop ceiling tile product out. I was able to do it all by myself, without the help of anyone else.

You can also purchase this product by Ceilume to help cover up your drop ceiling grids. One day we might do it. It does look super nice, but right now it is not high on our priority list.

Our space really did transform once we covered our old and dingy tiles! Can you tell how happy a new ceiling made me????

Basement Wall Makeover: How to use a sealer on wallpaper?

Our basement had an ugly 90’s wallpaper throughout the wall space. One of my friends said that it looked like it came out of the TV show, Full House (not Fuller House). I had to update it, but when I tried to take a little off using traditional methods, it just didn’t seem to work. 

Therefore after more research on what do with wallpaper, we found that this sealer would work just as well. It is the counterpart to the SW brand that we used.

We found our wallpaper sealer at Sherwin Williams. If you go and ask them about what product they recommend, the will guide you to it. Just make sure you work in a well-ventilated area or that you take a lot of breaks when using the product.

You simply roll it out like you would paint after you lightly sand the wallpaper seams. For a basement, I think it was a perfect solution. Way better than trying to take all the wallpaper down and have to patch all the walls. 

Gray walls painted after wallpaper sealer with chair in basement

After it was done, we used a nice neutral gray, as we did in our DIY bathroom makeover.  As you can see in the above picture, you really can’t tell that there is wallpaper under the layer of gray paint.

Don’t forget to pin this image for later so you can reference back to all the budget-friendly DIY basement makeover ideas!!!!

DIY BASEMENT makeover that will keep you on budget with image of DIY white built-in entertainment and storage

How to update wood in the basement without painting all molding and wood surfaces?

So in this house, we had OAK molding and doors everywhere! It is very time-consuming and a little messy to paint all the molding when you have carpet already there. I REALLY did not want to have to paint all the molding for this basement makeover. When I paint molding I follow these steps: 

-Use a deglossing agent to wipe down boards

-Apply a bonding primer with a brush

-Use a white enamel paint in 2 coats (at least)

Not only does it take time to carefully do this, but you have to wait for each layer of paint to dry before you can do the next step. Inside of paint everything white, I decided to follow the steps listed above to make my doors and columns white and leave the molding…it is a basement overall!

White bonding primer applied to wooden posts and doors for diy bathroom makeover

For the doors and columns, the only difference was that I used a small foam roller to apply the primer and enamel paint. I did have to trim around the columns so that I can leave the top and bottom of the molding the wood color.

I am sooooo HAPPY that I did not try to paint all the molding in the basement. My days of painting molding may be coming to an end after doing every single piece in two houses recently! 

Where else can you use this same painting technique to get rid of dated oak in your home?

We used this same method to update our fireplace. If you are looking for another cheap DIY update that can really make a space in your home feel more modern, then check it out.

White column with oak molding in DIY basement remodel

DIY Basement Design: How to add extra storage to your basement using stock upper cabinets?

Again, I looked all over Pinterest and Google to find inexpensive ways to add DIY storage to our basement. There are IKEA hacks I considered and different ways to create more storage. I even have a list started of my favorite simple ways to organize. However, that still didn’t do it.

In my search, we finally saw something that we thought would be PERFECT for our DIY basement makeover.

Upper Cabinets used for DIY built-in cabinets

We thought we could handle to create DIY built-in cabinets by using stock upper kitchen cabinets as base cabinets.

Before my husband could install the cabinets, he had to create a base using 2’ x 4s, so that the cabinets would be off the ground and the proper height.

Before you order cabinets (they will even ship to you for free from most places), you will need to figure out the size of the cabinets that you want.

We wanted one large cabinet that opened from the middle to store a variety of toys and things. We then added smaller single cabinets to the sides to complete our basement storage.

Get your cabinets level!

The biggest challenge with installing any cabinets is to make sure they are level before securing them to the wall. You may have to use shims (or small wooden chips to make sure the first one is level before instilling more). 

Wood being stained for tops of DIY built-in cabinets

We then stained to 2 1’ thick, 8″ wide and 10 ft. long poplar boards to create the top of our DIY built-in entertainment and toy storage center. Once the cabinets were installed, we used wood glue and few finishing nails to secure the top to the cabinets.

We also added quarter-round to cover any gaps due to our basement wall not being completely square. And let’s face it, no wall is!

DIY built-in storage cabinet in a budget basement makeover

Add hardware (we used) and you have your own DIY built-in storage to help keep your basement organized.

If you are looking for different hardware for fun DIY projects, check out World Market. I always love their fun collection of hardware and have used their products on several different DIY furniture makeovers.

Organize your basement shelving

My husband and I were going to add other shelving on top but then decided we really didn’t need it. It was a great way to add a more built-in look on a budget. I have even made some of my own storage containers out of boxes to add another touch of inexpensive DIY solutions for inside the cabinets. 

DIY Basement Makeover using white cabinets to create DIY built-ins below tv

You can never have too many storage containers or ways to organize in my opinion!

DIY Basement Idea: Create an extra basement bedroom

Before our budget-friendly basement makeover, we knew we had to figure out what to do with an ugly room right off the main basement area.

This basement room used to be an old office will HORRIBLE green golf wallpaper. (I will add a before picture soon).

Therefore, we sealed the wallpaper using the steps above and drop ceiling covers to modernize this basement space.

Next, we added any furniture already on hand and lamps that could be repurposed. Using brushed nickel spray paint and adding a new shade really added to this.

DIY Basement Bedroom Idea

Also, my husband’s parents had given us their old record collection. Therefore, we decided to use these amazing record cover frames to add DIY artwork to the wall in the basement.

If you are interested in other DIY artworks then be sure to check out our easy DIY word canvas project or how to have your children make artwork you will actually want to hang above the bed.

We are so happy that we have another space that can be used if we have guests

… and parties (recently my husband made DIY poker tables) because a basement is the perfect place to send the kids and guys!

Our DIY basement makeover really gave us more space to create a kid’s area and adult area that we needed without breaking the bank!

Sectional couch with painted column in a DIY basement makeover on a budget

What is your favorite DIY home makeover? If you are like me, then you love it all! From DIY furniture makeovers to different painting techniques, I always get a thrill when I am able to transform something for my home on a BUDGET!!!!

Hello! My name is Erin and I am a DIY nut. Currently, I live in Ohio with my beautiful family. My husband and I love making our house a home through DIY projects. I hope this site inspires you to become a DIY nut!

38 Comments

  • Veronica

    We redid our outdated-but-finished basement recently too! I had never even heard of drop ceiling covers. They look great! We went with removing the drop ceiling and painting black (a lot of work) and we didn’t have wall paper but we had chair rail that we removed. We also installed cheap LVP from Floor and Decor. Thanks for sharing!

    • Erin

      Awesome work! Yes, I think since our system was still in place, the new tiles were the easiest thing for us. I did not want to have to paint and create a large mess since we were keeping the carpet that was there.

  • Jenn Summers

    I love the vinyl ceiling tiles they look so expensive! And that storage is absolutely gorgeous. I wish I had a basement this space is so family functional. Great job, Erin!

    • Erin

      Hi Jenn. One of the reasons we bought this house was because it had such a large basement. We just needed to update it and make it work for our family!

      • Jenn Summers

        That is smart thinking! Definitely, something we will look for if and when we decide to move from our home. Our town actually does not have a lot of basements because of flooding. We have a dirt basement that is just gross. I often think of filling it in and moving the gas and water into the stairwell. But that’s a huge cost haha.

        • Erin

          Hi Jenn! We were lucky that this basement was “finished” and just needed updating. I don’t have any experience with dirt basements. Our old house was a on a crawl space, but the ground was still concrete.

  • Rachael

    Those drop ceiling tiles look amazing! Such a great change on a budget and they sound really easy to install. Where did you get your artwork from? Or did you DIY it?

    • Erin

      Hi Rachel! I am an artist/teacher from a family of artists! So the paintings in this post that you see are some of my dad’s that he did in college. I love using all our artwork in our home decor!

  • Christine

    Love these ideas – super practical and informative article! Now I want to go redo everything!! Definitely will be checking out your blog for more DIY how-to posts!

    • Erin

      Hi Melissa! Thanks for the kind words. We do hope this basement space will be able to grow with us throughout the years. I am sure more DIY projects will be added a little by little to make it exactly what we want!

  • Eliza

    Fantastic stuff! I wouldn’t have thought it was a basement at all. We have a lot of building and decorating to do in our house and I’m definitely going to keep your tips in mind.

    • Erin

      Hi Eliza! I am so happy you didn’t think this was a basement as that was the whole point of doing all these DIY projects! We love having one more space that we can use as a family!

  • Sherry

    Great tips! I wasn’t sure if you could paint ceiling tiles or not, but we have a few tiles that have been cut to fit specific shapes that need something done with them. I may try that rather than buying new ones and having to cut them exact. At least if it doesn’t work, I won’t be out a lot of money.

    • Erin

      Hi Sherry! The covers I mentioned are able to be cut with scissors. You can just take your existing tiles down and lay on top of the covers as a template to make sure you get the right size. Good luck with painting or redoing your drop ceiling however you choose!

    • Erin

      Hi Mallie! Feel free to ask me any questions about the drop ceiling tiles. I did a lot of research before I finally went with the new drop ceiling tiles that covered my old and gross ones! We love that people love our DIY basement makeover that didn’t break the bank!

    • Erin

      Hi Sydney. Thanks for the nice comment. I am so happy we bought a house with a basement, even if we had to do a little DIY basement makeover!

  • Brenda Bunney

    Hi,

    We’ve done several DYI home projects. Always seems to be a combined effort of hiring some pros and us 🙂 I wish I’d know about that wall covering for existing wallpaper several years ago! It’s all gone now! Thank heaven’s and I feel your pain. Man we needed it! And your ceilings look great. I’d never thought of that! Awesome job.

    • Erin

      Hi Brenda! Some DIY projects are worth asking for help. We for sure have experienced that is all of our home projects. Thanks for the kind words. I really couldn’t get over how a drop ceiling makeover changed our basement.

    • Erin

      Hi Gina! I know how difficult it is to keep things organized. We just really needed space in our basement for our kids to go! It is nice that we were able to do that pretty cheaply!

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