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Finishing a basement? We'll walk you through the basics, from plumbing and insulation to space planning and design ideas. Review step-by-step plans to help determine the best use of your square footage, and learn how to avoid common pitfalls. Consider smart add-ons and remember to keep the decor bright, even if you don't have windows. What about the finishing touches? Get expert advice on surfaces, layouts and energy efficiency. Your basement shouldn't become a black hole. Here's how to clutter-proof it once and for all.

A world of fun is available in that dark and dingy space, but before you start creating the basement of your dreams, assess your wants and needs. Don't be afraid to dream big, but be realistic. "You want to make everything fit for what you want to do," If your heart is set on a big multipurpose space with game tables and a home theater system, make sure there is ample room. Before you start any work on your basement, you should detect and fix water and humidity problems. If you get water in your basement or regularly use a sump pump to pump it out, address this before adding walls, floors and furnishings.

You may have a furnace and a hot water tank on one wall and a water filtration or water softener system on the other. Mechanical systems and other obstacles can present design opportunities. Get tips for tackling the most common problems. There are pipes for water and heating, and ductwork can cause unavoidable issues in a basement project. You can get water leaks and worse from overhead pipes, sewer and septic pipes, and cracks in the foundation or floor. Water tanks can erupt, and valves can suddenly blow, spilling inches or feet of water into your basement before you realize it.

Moisture and humidity are some of the most common problems in basement spaces, and water issues need to be resolved before you build any room down there. If you get water leaks from your foundation walls or floor, this needs to be addressed. Because of their expansive layouts, basements are often catch-all rooms. When browsing basement remodeling ideas, always think in terms of your family's needs and whether the space could best serve as your playroom, media room, home bar or storage space — or all of the above. Although finishing a basement is a large investment, it can add much-needed square footage to your home, which can also up the overall resale value. Designing a basement can be an intimidating task, but it can also be a fun adventure for a homeowner. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Embarking on a basement design project is like any major home renovation — there are a lot of details to consider. From the layout to the final touches, the options are endless for how a basement can be arranged. When it comes to illumination, consider placing basement lights along the perimeter of the space. This design idea makes it appear as though the walls have been pushed outward, making the space look much larger. The same goes for paint choices — use light paint to open up the space. Remove dated finishes, like old carpet, linoleum and paneling. This doesn't mean you have to tear everything out and start from scratch. Instead, consider making simple updates, like painting the paneling or placing new tiles over old linoleum flooring. Industry standards focus on many aspects of a basement remodel, from what kind of building materials you can use to how much support you need for beams and columns. When planning to finish a basement, brushing up on building codes is essential for ensuring good results.
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