5 Basement Design Tips to Make a Dark Space Feel Bright and Inviting

Interiors & Decor

We only have one small window in our basement. Over half the square footage of our home sits below ground level, so making the most of this space means using some creative design techniques to make it feel less “creepy”—as my kids say. 

Today I’m sharing five basement design tips to make a dark space feel bright and inviting.

1. Choose the Right Paint Colors

While I love bold wall colors in other areas of a home, in a basement, I generally recommend picking colors in the white or cream family. The lighter colors will help reflect light and make the space feel bright and airy.

When we painted our basement family room last month, we used two colors: White Dove and Sail Cloth, both by Benjamin Moore. These colors make the whole room feel much brighter than it did before. The Sail Cloth color also adds a sense of warmth to the space, thanks to its warm beige tones.

2. Add Art to the Walls

Adding art to your basement walls can transform the space. In basements with low ceilings, I especially recommend pieces that give the illusion of height. Select a few large-scale, tall pieces you love—you’ll be amazed at what a difference they make.

3. Bring in Plenty of Textiles

Textiles like rugs, pillows, and blankets are the antidote for any space that’s naturally dark and cold. Go for something cozy and inviting, like a soft rug (I love the plushness of Nordic Knots rugs) or a chunky knit blanket. Add multiple throw pillows with lots of patterns to the couch. Any space will feel instantly warmer and more inviting with some good textiles.

I also considered these design tips when designing the basement in our previous home.
Photo by Colleen Eversman at 2ndtruth Photography

4. Focus on Lighting

Lighting is an impactful way to bring warmth and light to a basement—especially a basement without windows. You can install recessed lights or wall sconces, add lamps, and even get creative with string lights as accents to give the room a cozy ambiance.

In our basement family room, I like to have the option to turn on recessed lights while I’m downstairs doing laundry or playing sports with the kids. When we want a cozier vibe, we turn on a few lamps.

5. Incorporate a Few Pieces of Unexpected Furniture

Don’t be afraid to add furniture pieces that bring personality to the space. I love funky little stools that work both as seating and a place to put a drink. Layering in unique textures always helps bring warmth to a space, so consider this as well when making furniture selections.

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BY Kate Arends - February 20, 2023

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February 20, 2023 10:50 am

Use Mirrors: Mirrors can help to reflect light and create the illusion of a larger space. Hang mirrors on the walls or use mirrored furniture, such as a coffee table or bookshelf, to help bounce light around the room.

March 1, 2023 2:29 pm

Hi Kate,

Love your basement design and tips!

Can you share information (brand) regarding the chair and matching ottoman in the first photo? It looks super comfy!

Thank you.

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