Do you have a basement that could use a refresh? Learn how you can cheaply makeover your basement to create a room in your home the whole family will love. Whether you have a big basement or a smaller one, DIY projects can help you keep your basement renovation low budget.
The “Before” Basement
Here are a few home improvement projects we used in our basement space. Luckily, half of our basement was “finished” but completely dated. These few DIYs and products helped us to complete a low-budget basement remodel ourselves.
Design Your Basement
Do you have separate rooms in your basement or do you have some of your space in an unfinished basement? One of the main priorities in our basement was to designate specific areas for different things.
Our basement makeover incorporated remodeling spaces that were finished, adding a creative space for our children and creating a home gym on the other side of our basement.
Easy Ways to Cheaply Makeover A Basement
- Redo old and dusty drop ceiling tiles
- Replace flooring if needed (luckily our carpet was in good enough shape)
- Paint or get rid of wallpaper
- Paint or update some of the basement molding, doors or beams. Making a few things white can really enhance a space!
- Add extra storage space in your basement
- Add extra living spaces, such as a bedroom
- Decorate using items you already have and enjoy your space for your family
- Create a home gym space
#1: Redo Basement 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 of the best ways to makeover your basement ceiling.
Option 1: Remove The Drop Ceiling and Paint The Ceiling
- Gain extra footage in your ceiling height
- No longer have a drop ceiling
- Looks nice when done
- Have to tear out the current system
- It is best if you spray the paint (therefore requires a lot of prep work/cover current materials, extra soundproofing from tiles gone
Option 2: Paint Current Tiles
Paint the current basement drop ceiling tiles. You could prop the tile up or take them out and paint before placing them back in.
- Pretty inexpensive
- Can also leave them in the grids if you prop them up when painting.
- Still may not look the best
Option 3: Drywall The Basement Ceiling
This would also involve removing the drop ceiling grids and tiles.
- Professional looking
- Expensive to have someone else do
- Have to demo the current ceiling
- May be unable to reach basement pipes or electrical wires easily
Option 4: Add New Ceiling Tiles
There are a variety of styles and designs to help modernize your basement ceiling.
- Looks professional
- Brightens up space
- Can easily order boxes of 10 tiles at a time
- Easy to install
- Limited skill level needed
- Limited mess
- It still takes time to replace all ceiling tiles but not nearly as much as tearing the whole system out and then doing something else
- It is not as cheap as painting the existing tiles
Easiest 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 or 2′ x 4 depending on your current grid set-up.
The full ceiling tiles were pretty easy to install. I worked in small sections. You take the one old tile down and add the cover. You can place both back into the grid or just the new tiles. If one needs to be cut, use scissors to carefully cut a cover to match the existing tile.
It was amazing that just a nice pair of scissors. You do have to be careful not to 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. Once you have a bright white ceiling, you will realize how much your old one was dated and dingy.
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.
- Ceilume Stratford Tiles (the ones we used)
- Genesis Icon Relief Tiles: Great counterpart to compare to the Ceilume brand
- 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!
I never thought I would LOVE vinyl drop ceiling tiles so much! The best part about our ceiling makeover is that I was able to do a large area all by myself with limited tools. Just take your time and work in sections and you can get a new modern look.
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.
#2 Basement Wall Makeover
Our basement had ugly ’90s wallpaper throughout the living 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.
Use A Wallpaper Sealer
Obviously, the most ideal situation is to fully remove your wallpaper. However, it was impossible in our basement without completely tearing up the drywall underneath.
We had to research what to do with wallpaper and found an oil-based sealer would work.
- 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, they 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.
How To Use The Sealer
Before beginning to use the sealer, you want to sand the wallpaper seams. Then you simply roll it out like you would with regular paint.
For a basement, I think it was a perfect solution for our living space. It was a much better solution than trying to take all the wallpaper down and having to patch all the basement walls.
If your basement does not get a lot of natural light, then you want to probably want to consider using a light color.
#3 Update Some Wood Molding & Doors
In this house, we had OAK molding and doors everywhere! It is very time consuming and a little messy to add a fresh coat of paint to all the molding when you have the carpet already there. I really did not want to have to paint all the molding for this basement makeover.
We chose to paint only the columns and doors instead of all the molding. I am happy with that decision and like to have some warmth in the wood in our basement.
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.
Instead of painting everything white, I decided to follow the steps listed above to make my doors and columns white and leave the molding. This simple painting home improvement project really updated the space while saving us time.
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.
My days of getting rid of oak molding may be coming to an end after doing every single piece in two houses recently.
#4: Create Budget Built-in Storage
Again, I looked all over Pinterest and Google to find inexpensive ways to add extra space for storage to our basement. There are IKEA hacks I considered and different ways to create more storage. We decided that we wanted a more custom look than just taking a piece of Ikea furniture and redoing it.
An affordable way to create DIY built-in cabinets is 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 at the proper height.
Before You Order
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.
Because you are using standard sizes, you have to consider how many cabinets you can fit along your wall. You may have to add extra wood in the edges to make it work for your space.
Our DIY built-in design had 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).
Add A Top To The 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 a few finishing nails to secure the top of the cabinets.
Cabinet Finishing Touches
- Add quarter-round to cover any gaps due to our basement wall not being completely square. And let’s face it, no wall is!
- Add hardware (we used) and you have your own DIY built-in storage to help keep your basement organized.
#5: Organize Your Storage Area
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.
#6: Create A Craft Area For Kids
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 with green golf wallpaper.
#7: Work With Existing Features
This basement also has a bathroom that was in need of a low cost remodel. You can read all about the DIY projects we were able to take on. By working with the existing cabinet and light fixture we were able to renovate this space for under $300.
#8: Create A Home Gym
Adding carpet tiles to the concrete floor on the unfinished side of our basement created a workout space to add our gym equipment. This easy DIY project was a good idea because you can always replace individual carpet squares if needed.
#9: Decorate For A Finished Look
Add Areas Rugs
Sometimes you can’t replace your basement flooring. While we would love brand-new flooring, it just wasn’t in the budget. Adding area rugs in your large basement will help break up the space and create different zones. For example, this rug was placed with a sectional to create a family room vibe.
Basement Makeover FAQs
Using light colors on your walls, ceiling, and even in your decor can help to make a basement feel brighter and more spacious without adding windows. You can also install ample lighting fixtures, use mirrors & artwork strategically, and declutter the space to maximize openness.
Do-it-yourself projects such as painting, adding extra storage, decorating, and adding new light fixtures can really make an impact in your old basement. Updating your ceiling or flooring with budget-friendly materials can help to cheaply makeover your space. Lastly, create functional zones within the basement, designating areas for different activities like a TV or entertainment zone, a reading nook, or a mini home office to fully utilize all the available space.
- How To Clean Carpeted Stairs At Home
- DIY Waterproofing For Basement Walls
- How To Hang Shelves On A Cinderblock Wall
What is your favorite DIY home makeover project? I always get a thrill when I am able to transform something in our home so cheaply. Our DIY budget basement makeover really gave us more space to create a kid’s area, home gym and living area that we needed!