Basement Wall Ideas

Make your basement an inviting place with these stylish ideas for finishing basement walls.

Brighten with Color

Create a focal point wall in the basement by painting it a bold, warm color. This deep orange wall sets off an earthy palette of gold, pea green, and light brown. Prints with a healthy dose of purple accent the orange.

Painting adjacent walls bright white tames the orange and reflects light, eliminating any danger of basement gloom.

Create a Message Board

In a basement hobby room or office, turn one wall into an oversize message board. This treatment works in for basements where humidity and moisture are not a problem. And this treatment helps reduce noise and echoing.

Staple batting and fabric to the wall before installing the baseboard and crown molding. Stretch wide ribbon on the diagonal from floor to ceiling to make diamonds. At each intersection of diagonals, hammer in a decorative furniture tack to create a tufted look.

Leave Brick Exposed for an Urban Look

If your home's foundation walls are brick instead of the more common poured concrete or concrete block, leave them exposed for a chic loft look in the basement. This basement office gets light from above-grade windows. For hip urban style the brick walls are in their natural state and the wood floor joists overhead are exposed.

Tile the Walls for Easy Care

Subway tiles applied over drywall up to plate-rail height make durable, easy-to-maintain walls for a basement laundry room.

Finishing basement walls normally involves attaching wood furring strips or 2x4 studs to masonry walls, then adding insulation and covering with drywall. Tile is applied over the drywall as for any bathroom or kitchen installation.

Create Architectural Interest

Basement walls take on handsome Art Deco-style using ordinary lumber--4x8 plywood sheets of rotary-sawn maple hardwood and solid poplar 2x3 battens. The poplar is stained dark walnut and attached over the joints between the plywood sheets.

Boost your home's energy efficiency by insulating walls before applying the finishing treatment. Rigid foam panels offer more insulating value than fiberglass and are impervious to moisture.

A Bright, Beautiful, Budget Finish

A thrifty solution to finishing a basement laundry room is to paint everything white--concrete-block walls as well as the exposed floor joists and ducts overhead--and mask the walls with curtains.

Make the curtain panels from canvas painter's drop cloths and attach large grommets to the top edge. Slide the curtains onto galvanized pipe. Mount the pipe using galvanized round floor flanges (found in the plumbing supply department of a home center).

Shape and Style the Space

Define a basement room with curved walls and interesting artwork. The curved wall here started with a framework of studs. It is covered with shaped veneer panels overlaid with molding and raised wood blocks to create the wainscoting. Above the chair rail, a hand-painted mural depicts a whimsical scene of dogs playing billiards.

Perk Up with Plywood

For a fun and affordable basement wall finish, attach 4-foot-square pieces of plywood to furring strips or wall studs. Vary the direction of the grain pattern to emphasize the quilted effect, and play up the corners by driving the screws through metal washers.

Paint some of the plywood squares with chalkboard paint to create a message center.

Maximize with Molding and Paint

Arts and Crafts-style wainscoting is easy to create with plywood, crown molding, and 1x3 boards.

Here the trimwork and ceiling are painted warm white and the drywall is painted bright white. The combination makes this area of the basement feel light and open and makes the most of natural light coming in through the above-grade window.

Achieve a Modern Log Cabin Look

Walls covered in warm pine tongue-and-groove siding, and a wood and stone fireplace give this basement a rustic log-cabin feel.

Before a treatment like this can be installed over masonry basement walls, you need to make sure the walls are plumb and dry. If your basement walls are bowed or out of plumb, you'll need to build a stud wall in front of the masonry wall to ensure a flat, plumb finished surface. In this case, the stud wall is attached to the overhead joists and the concrete slab.

Define Space with Partition Walls

Basements are often one large, open room. Add definition and interest with simply framed walls.

Because partition walls don't have to support the weight of the house, you can build them anywhere in the basement to create separate rooms. This partial wall divides the sitting area from the dining room. Wood planks laid horizontally in a randomly staggered manner recall wood floors or exterior siding.

Lines and Color Add Punch

A picture-frame motif repeats in the panel insets on the walls and carpet squares on the floor in this basement living room. The geometry is emphasized with a bold color scheme. The faux wall panels are made from picture-frame molding.

Painting the walls a warm red above the chair rail and khaki below gives the area a feeling of intimacy. Applying the same red to the panels creates lively pattern in the wainscoting, and crisp white molding makes the color combination pop.

A Unique Wainscot Measures Up

Old yardsticks attached to the wall between 1x4 dividers create a dense and interesting texture on a basement wall. Try this on a focal point wall or a short room divider--the number of yardsticks you can collect will determine how wide each section between the dividers should be.

Cover the Wall with Pegboard

Panels of white-painted pegboard add funky texture to the wall of this retro-style basement. With the help of hanging hardware designed for pegboards, you can decorate the wall with photos as well as baskets for DVDs and magazines.

Centering the television under the small basement window plays down the awkward size and placement of the window. Covered with a sheer organza shade embellished with metal washers, it looks like a piece of artwork.

Mask Block Wall with Paint

If your concrete-block basement walls are dry and free of efflorescence or mold, you can seal them with a masonry sealer or all-purpose water-base primer-sealer and paint with a high-quality latex paint.

Paint is an easy way to make the basement feel warmer, brighter, and more welcoming. Be sure to test paint colors in the basement: Because of low light levels, you may find you can use brighter colors than you would upstairs.

Focus Attention with Color

Create a focal point wall in the basement with bright color. In an underground space with no natural light, choose warm colors, such as warm orange, golden yellow, or yellow-green.

Paint a Lively Grid on Basement Walls

Brighten a basement playroom with a grid of colorful rectangles. This design is best for drywall and is recommended only for walls that are straight and plumb. The most time-consuming part of the process is measuring off the grid, using a carpenter's level to make sure the lines are straight.

Paint the entire wall white, then use wide painter's tape to tape off the grid. Roll on paint in the colors desired. After the paint dries, remove the painter's tape to reveal the white outlines.

Begin with the Basics

A simple facelift for a basement office starts with painting concrete-block walls bright white. If your basement walls have never been painted, use a specialty masonry waterproofing paint to seal the walls.

Strips of stained wood add architectural interest, and panels of bright fabric add color.

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