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Dingy to dazzling: Beautiful basement makeovers
The after picture of a basement room remodel reveals an elegant entertainment center, new light fixtures, finished mocha walls and cozy furniture.

The basement.

It's where mom sent you and your 17 rapscallion friends for popcorn, movies and Nerf basketball. It was your older sister's domain. It was your younger brother's biggest, darkest, creepiest, noise-infested fear. It was your dad's serene, Sunday football sanctum where he found quiet respite -in between chores-to watch the football game. Yawn.

But these days, with new developments in design, the basement is anything but tired. Modern-day basements are morphing from the modest multi-purpose rooms of yore to personalized, unique relaxation stations.

And, depending how you and yours like to best unwind, your basement could be transformed into a personalized fitness center, a spa, a one-of-a-kind guest room or red carpet-worthy theater room.

Whether your basement is unfinished with pipes peeking from the ceiling with concrete floors, or finished but in need of a face-lift, remember these design ideas from local experts as you create the perfect space. Your upstairs will be jealous.

Nesting place

Stay-cations and lounging at home are becoming more commonplace during these unsettling economic times.

"Staying home is becoming more and more of a trend and families are looking to make their house more comfortable," said Jeremy Freyenhagen, president of Freyenhagen Construction. "People are comforted by knowing where their kids are," he said, "and happy to create a space for their kids and their kids' friends to hang out."

And these entertainment rooms aren't just for kids.

Theater rooms, foosball tables, Wii and air hockey are earmarking several Billings basements. Preference, of course, guides the purchasing-as the cost of creating a new entertainment room greatly varies.

Freyenhagen, who has been in the remodel business for the past 13 years, has overseen the renovation and remodel of many Billings homes.

"We work with clients to help them use space functionally," he said. "Your home needs to make sense with your lifestyle."

With regard to basement remodeling, Freyenhagen cautions the do-it-yourselfer, advising homeowners to consult a professional with ideas in mind. Basements in particular are tricky for several reasons: low ceilings, exposed beams, protruding plumbing and duct work to name a few.

Another local design expert, Cynthia Devitt of Signature Interiors in Billings, agrees that an outside eye can often point out caveats that the do-it-your-selfer might miss.

"For example, when designing a theatre room, it's probably not a good idea to have a room with windows," Devitt said. "An enclosed room with insulated sound is ideal."

Devitt has designed both ornate and modest theatre rooms.

"Remodeling is more

financially doable than buying a new home, and since the first ofthe year, I've seen the market trending that direction," she said Another reason to remodel, Devitt reminded, is that it ads resale value to your home. But why would any cellar dweller want to abandon his downstairs sanity sanctuary?

Locally, theatre rooms/entertainment rooms seem to be the most popular downstairs additions, Devitt said. However, some are leaning toward more atypical basement remodeling trends.

Adult alcove

Bring your nightlife home with a modern wet bar and service center. Create an ambiance all your own with soft lighting, classic countertops and spill-friendly carpet or flooring. Your friends will be wowed when their new favorite bar in town is located in your basement.

Cover charge optional.

Let's get physical

Is your body begging for a workout? Full-service, at-home gyms equipped with treadmills, free weights and elliptical machines have become much more popular in recent years.

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The cost of creating an exercise room, Devitt said, depends predominantly on what type of equipment you buy.

"Exercise rooms don't require a lot of extra electricity or electrical work, and people are opting to work out privately at home," Devitt said.

Freyenhagen suggests frosting your custom exercise room with wall-length mirrors to brighten the space and perhaps a wall-mounted TV.


If your wish is create a soothing, calming respite, a downstairs spa could be the ticket.

One local family created an oasis, boasting teak wood floors, a granite sink pedestal, a soothing steam shower. Another cleansing feature is in the shower: as the water drains, it flows over a bed of rocks lining the lip of the shower, creating a sort of relaxing by-the-river effect.

Devitt cautions that before you consider installing a spa, be sure to consult a heating/cooling professional, plumber and electrician. Be sure that the room is vented correctly, has adequate electricity and is properly insulated.

"Mother-in-law" room

Freyenhagen loosely uses this term to describe creating an individual, private nook in the house for live-in relatives.

Assisted living costs have become exorbitant for some, and in the long-run, designing a special suite or wing in your home for a loved one could be less expensive. An addition like this can create a warm, at-home feeling, while at the same time, affording your loved one freedom and room to roam.

Shape shifting

Our space should mirror our lives. With this in mind, it comes as no surprise to Freyenhagen that he's been contracted for ongoing remodels. "One seems to roll to the other," he said. Single: add spouse-add dog-add kids-add grandparents-subtract kids and grandparents. These circumstances call for rearranging and reorganizing our space.

"It's important to be mindful of using space functionally," he said. "Create spaces that make sense and remind yourself that a room you remodel for one purpose could outdate itself later on."

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