Basement Design can be fun
Whoever would think that it was possible to make a basement design that would turn a dark and dirty concrete basement into a beautifully finished living room? Well, who ever thought even about the very idea of living under the ground?
Most people would say that living under the ground is for cavemen and primitive, undeveloped cultures, but in today’s ever increasing vertically towering urban landscapes and cities, nothing could be more efficient and modern than a good basement design and that makes proper use of all possible living space in a home.
Thousands of years ago in what is now Turkey, the ancient Hittite civilization had constructed deep cities into the underground volcanic turf, a natural wonder in the Ihlara valley of Cappadocia (Kappadokia).
Later the Greeks, and what was left of the Greek civilization in the VII’th century would protect and hide themselves from the Roman persecution of their Religion within the soft volcanic rock below the desert valley floor. How? How did they live?
They lived well. They lived in peace and harmony among each other surrounded by protective volcanic rock (invisible to the eyes of invaders). The keys to their healthy life style were simple, light and ventilation.
Derinkuyu is an ancient underground city with more than 13 different floors below ground and still gets excellent lighting and ventilation through vertical shafts at intersecting points throughout its complex and labyrinth structure to this day (even after millennia of wars and cave-ins).
Basement design can follow the ancient wisdom of these great civilizations. And windows are the key. A window without a shaft, also called a window well, is fine, if your time and budget will not allow anything else, but they make the difference between real and healthy underground living and just mere living. The effects of natural light on the human mind and body have been researched over and over, study after study… But who needs to be an expert to know that underground dwellings need to get at least as much natural light as the upper floors. Spacious windows are not just common sense; they are the best part of any decent basement design.
Ceiling basement design is one of the areas where people most get uneasy, but it can be simple, safe and sound, with little effort. Low hanging ceilings need to be covered with plates that come nearest to each and every surface and colored as brightly as possible. If the ceiling is not so low, then be sure and curve as much as possible around the edges, with arches that spring up from the wall.
The idea of springing up from the upper corner of a wall also should extend its design technique to the lighting as well. Make absolutely sure that light comes from about one foot or so from the top of the walls (all around the basement) and casts its ray up and out, blocking the light coming down, from the bulb. This will give the effect of space that the human eye needs to feel comfortable. Lights are traditionally put in the center of the ceiling, which is a big no-no… Whenever light bulb is stationed in the center of a room, shadows are cast on the ceiling… But it’s the ceiling that needs to be bright, the floor and walls are given priority by a center bulb, but by putting lights all around the top of the walls, not only the center and walls receive light, but also the walls and the floor as well. “Remember to throw light UP not down.”
Walls, floor, pillars, stairs, electricity and plumbing, all need to be designed in such a way as to permit more and more space. Colors should always be as bright as possible, and surfaces should be smooth with so light will bounce nicely off of them. Floors should be as warm as possible, and the walls should be filled with insulation. Interior decoration should conform to the rest of the house’s design, but inner workings like water heating, plumbing and electricity can be creatively hidden in walls and between pillars that close off spaces with false walls.
False walls and hidden closets spaces are not just for castles, in a basement design, they create the illusion that this room is not a basement at all, while still making sure that it never loses its original purpose, easy internal maintenance. If a wall or a ceiling close off the access to anything that needs to be serviced later, then things can get really ugly in the new living room, and more expensive as time goes on. Expensive in the long run means the basement design was wrong and inefficient, so let the imagination go crazy with this.
Rerouting plumbing, electricity and moving the water heater, waterproofing the whole basement and digging window wells are not things you do to be fancy, they are put into the design to make remodeling the basement as cheap as possible. As strange as that may sound it is true… Basement design means being practical and practical is being prepared for the future. Make sure light comes from below and shoots UP. And finally, make sure that when planning your basement design, that you take into account as many false closets, walls, floors and even secret passages as possible to keep the uniform style with the rest of the house, without losing your basement.