Finished surfaces and decoration should never be an afterthought in a basement conversion or construction design. Decorative materials and fittings are not merely a matter of taste; in addition, they inform and enable the ways the space can be used and should therefore influence your design from the outset.
Not all building companies know much about finishing and fitting out, while not all outfitting companies adequately understand issues specific to basement constructions. Specialist basement companies in London will provide more reliable advice than either ordinary general builders or the latest trendy interior designer.
For example, one outfitting website devotes a page to basement conversions and recommends vinyl flooring because it is waterproof. A properly-constructed basement should not need a waterproof floor covering; in fact, if you have dampness, covering it with vinyl will multiply your problems.
Vinyl floor coverings and furnishings are also inappropriate in basements with limited air-flow, as they slowly emit toxic VOCs (volatile organic compounds). If you consider vinyl floor coverings for a basement, also review your ventilation provisions. Think twice about using a space finished in vinyl as a children’s playroom or full-time living space.
Whether a basement floor is suspended or solid, the cold can penetrate from the ground. Stone floors are certainly hard on the feet, so soft warm coverings such as cork can be perfect. Cork is hardwearing, breathes, and is naturally resistant to moulds and rot. It is ideal for living spaces, changing rooms, bathrooms or gyms. Polished concrete or terracotta will be fine in areas used as workshops, bars or billiard rooms.
Open-plan designs are always a plus for areas some may feel more enclosed and claustrophobic. Open-plan design also provides practical advantages, enabling better air circulation and lighting. To counteract the ‘heavy’ feel of some basements and make best use of this light, glass features and furniture work extremely well, such as glass-topped tables, glass walls or transparent partitions.
If your basement is large and you are adventurous, pools can be extraordinary. Whether you swim in them or keep koi, light can be refracted through water in amazing ways and your pool can look like a blue sky on the floor. Exotic modern flooring, such as resin-sealed murals, works exceptionally well near water features.
Open-plan designs suggest – and limit – the way you will use the space. They are good for entertaining and socialising, but less good for activities requiring privacy.
Enclosed spaces can make temperature and lighting control easier, which is excellent for wine storage or a photographic studio. Basements are also naturally sound insulated. With a little extra proofing near entrances, they make superb recording studios or band practice rooms, or a neighbour-friendly area for noisy workshop machinery.
In smaller basements, compact and well-designed storage containers, shelving and integrated multifunction appliances are essential. Recessed lighting also saves a lot of space while equipping you with the means to focus different lighting where and when you want it. Whatever your vision, specialist basement companies in London can help you to realise it.