December 1, 2023

Let There Be light – How To Brighten Up Your Basement

Living in a rented apartment in a big city is considered a luxury. Owning one is wishful thinking for most. Due to the trouble of finding an affordable apartment, people interested in renting a place out are scouring for every option possible – even basements.

Living in basements ironically has a lot of downsides while the upsides are very debatable points. The ceilings are usually lowered, the rooms are cramped (many rooms are built for storage, not living), the lighting is low/non-existent and basement levels usually have specific maintenance demands other floors avoid.

Some people opt to live in a basement level – challenges will occur in transforming it into a welcoming living space. Limitations influence the interior design to be creative and even innovative in a sense. This isn’t a new concept and has been done before, so there are some general rules that can be followed. Here are a couple of things you should be looking at solving when renting out a basement apartment:

Paint the walls

Basement walls usually suffer from mold and other conditions that can impact the quality of the paint. Some are even just plain brick walls leaving very little to the feeling of coziness and comfort. If the landlord agrees, painting the walls is a great idea for changing the overall appearance of the apartment.

Painting in lighter and brighter colors like white, light blue or light gray will make the apartment feel more spacious. Additionally, it will diffuse more natural light which is a scarce resource in the basement level. Warm colors are a no due to the reverse effect they have on rooms. Dark colors are great for contouring space, putting an accent on specific areas – effectively increasing the size of the apartment.



Illusions are quite effective, especially if you plan on having guests. Mirrors are great for increasing the size of the room while also reflecting light across the room a lot better than the aforementioned wall paint. If one commits to the mirror solution for the space, additional benefits come into play.

If the mirror covers a wall from bottom to top, low ceilings can look higher while also giving a somewhat unique look to the space. Living in a basement has its own demands so somewhat strange solutions shouldn’t be off the table.

Low contrast

Different colors between walls, floor and ceiling visually lead to the shortening of the room. Even worse, the ceilings will lower which is already a real problem in this space. Columns or bulkheads along with the ceiling should match the color of the walls while the furniture can create contrast but only color. Saturation, intensity and other color components should be the same.

Playing the game of contrast is important. Visually we rely on contrast all the time when making our aesthetic opinions (buying clothes, furniture, and art). In general, if there is something being done in terms of interior design, contrast is being used elevate the design to next level. Google has endless images for inspiration if you feel like this should be a DIY project.

Conserve space


Basements are usually thought of as places where we dump things that we feel too sorry for to throw out or sell off. Now, if you are living in a basement you probably don’t have a “dumping basement”. This is why the thought goal turns towards space conservation.

Built-in storages and shelves are great for removing clutter which is beneficial to the increase of overall brightness. Limited space creates problems that heavily impact design solutions.

Natural light


Basements aren’t usually just areas that are completely underground. Some have windows but mostly they are small and don’t provide much light. There is always an option of installing a bigger window. If you opt for that the first step is to check with the city about the permits and regulations. After that choose to do it by yourself or with a company which might end up costing you a lot of money. Presuming you are a DIY enthusiast and you go for this option you will need to do a couple of things before you start.

The first thing you wanna do is order a custom made window since this take anywhere from two to four weeks.

Secondly, determine if your wall is poured concrete or a block wall. That will tell you what tools you need and how much time will it take.

Now it’s time to put on your work boots get out your power tools and bring in the light!


The level of redesigning one should do is highly dependent on the landlord and the space itself. It is quite a challenge to reach the desirable amount of lighting in basements. One should always weight the benefits with the effort required.

The main aspect that will be the most telling at how much work needs to be done is if the basement is for living or storage purposes. If you absolutely must go for a basement dweller lifestyle, make sure it is built for humans living in it.