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  • Jeff Russell

Basement Design: Form or Function?

February may have you dreaming of a fire in a warm cozy basement, or maybe it is wishing you had a place to send the kids to play with their friends. If you are considering finishing your lower level, you may wonder "Where should I start?"


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The first and most important item to work through is purpose. You may know exactly why you want to remodel or finish your basement, but take some time to discuss what the key purpose of the finished project will be. You may find that family members have vastly different views on how the space should be used. Let this discussion bring you to a list of key purposes for the basement, and then pare the list down to two or three main items. Here are some of the purposes we see most often:

  • More space for the family or kids

  • Additional bedrooms

  • Additional bathrooms

  • Entertaining or entertainment space

  • Storage

  • Specialty room: Music, sauna, office, or school room


Your purpose(s) for the project, and the priority of those purposes, will then dictate the design of the space. While it might be more fun to jump right into choosing colors, products or specialty items to add, you will be wasting time if those items don’t fit into the purpose for the project. What's more important, "Form" or "Function?" We have found that with basements, this classic question is best served when “form follows function.” With only a limited space to work in, the purpose, or "Function" must be settled before working on the "Form."


If you are struggling to nail down the purpose, these questions may help –


Who will use the space most? Adults, kids, teens, groups,...


What types of activities do you want to host or use it for?


Is there a specific focal point you want draw people to within the space?


What activities will occur? Family events, games, entertaining, food prep or buffet space, movies, work/office, book clubs or small groups, home school, guest visits, etc.…


This is just a smattering of options to consider. We would love to help you work through these questions, and then with the purpose in mind, ask the questions about how we can best design the space to accomplish that purpose. The layout and final floor plan will be needed to start an accurate estimate of the building materials and labor for the project, and it is also needed to inform the quantities of finish items, like tile, paint, countertops, etc.…


With the finished plan we can help guide you through the selection process. Some clients prefer to let us choose products, or give them a few suggestions, while others like to dive deep into visits to showrooms to view the various options available. Our process is designed to help you through the plans and selections in the way that best serves your style. Take a peek into our showroom and then call us when you're ready to discuss your project. We’re happy to guide you through the process at the level of involvement you want participate at.


The cost of the project is always another key factor, and the selections will drive much of the final price. We can help you weigh the options and guide you to selections that stay within your budget. If you are curious about more information on basement finishing, including the cost of a basement remodel, check out our other blog posts on that subject.


This blog post is similar to a two part series we did in 2021 on basements. Click here to dive into the cost breakdown of finishing or remodeling your basement.


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