Adding Warmth and Light to Your Basement Apartment

By Kaitlin Hurtado on October 25, 2021

Finding an affordable living space is definitely not an easy task, especially if you live in a desirable area that is highly competitive when it comes to rental units. Basement apartments are something you may find yourself stumbling upon with some hesitancy. If you are not as familiar with basement apartments, you may be hesitant at first because they are basements and you’ll often think of the drawbacks associated with basements — low ceilings, limited natural light, and strange floorplans.

Photo: Pexels

Keep it light and bright with your palette

Nothing will make your basement look more like a dark, depressing cave than painting the walls a dark color, especially if you are working with extremely limited natural lighting. Instead, try focusing on lighter and brighter colors. If you are not keen on the stale white that most rental units come with, you can ask your landlord if you can paint the walls a different color — such as a pale light blue or gray to make a smaller space feel larger.

Add mirrors

Incorporating mirrors into your basement apartment can be another way you can create an illusion of space and light. Mirrors will help reflect the limited natural light you do get in your basement apartment, maximizing the amount of light you can get from a tiny window. Small framed mirrors can double up as decor on a gallery wall. A floor-length mirror can be functional as well as make a lower ceiling look higher.

Add lights where you can

With a basement apartment, you are likely not going to get enough natural light to keep the room well-lit during the day, and definitely not into the later hours of the evening. Your basement apartment may come with the typical overhead lighting fixtures, but they may not brighten up the entire space as you would want them to, leaving some corners dark.

If you’ve placed your couch in one of these darker corners, opt for table lamps to place on the sides of your sofa for more light. Choose more decorative lamps or lampshades to make the space bright and add decor at the same time.

Ideal Magazine suggests following the formula of layered lighting to make the perfect balance of lighting in your base. First, begin with your “overall lighting” — the lighting fixtures on your ceiling that acts as natural lighting. Since basement ceilings are typically lower, avoid hanging fixtures like chandeliers that can make the ceilings look even lower or be a walking hazard for taller folks. Try for something that doesn’t take up much space, like ceiling spotlights.

“Task lighting” is your next focus. This type of lighting will provide lighting for specified tasks, such as studying or getting ready for the day, in specific areas, like your desk or dresser. Then, fill in your space with “accent lighting” which can help set the mood and focus in your basement apartment.

Add coziness via texture

There’s only so much lighting can do for a space and its coziness level. If your basement is lacking warmth, add textures throughout the space to make it feel cozier. For example, if you are dealing with hard flooring throughout your basement apartment — concrete, laminate, tile — you are likely going to be dealing with very cold floors in the winter months. Add some much-needed cushion to your floors with some rugs.

Rugs can help you divide up spaces between a formal dining space and a sitting area, and also help add some of your own personal flair between colors, patterns, and textures. A bright-colored area rug can add some brightness to a dark room.

Bring in some greenery

You may think that having a basement apartment means that there’s going to be a serious lack of both life and natural light with limited windows, but you can still incorporate greenery into your space. There are many plants that will work for your basement apartment that will not require bright natural light.

Incorporating some plants – fake or not – into your space can help make it appear more bright and lively.

Install a space heater where you lack warmth

Beat those colder zones of your basement apartment with an electric space heater. If you aren’t using the space frequently, space heaters are the perfect solution as you can turn them off and on as you please, as well as unplug them and take them to a different space where warmth is needed at a moment’s notice. If you are renting and unable to make major upgrades to your space, relying on an electric space heater or two can help bring in some much-needed warmth to your basement apartment.

Ample lighting in the right place will make your basement apartment feel right at home, throw in some warmth and you’ve got yourself a perfectly-lived in basement apartment.

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