In fact, basement conversions aren’t only for people with basements. Any house with a void beneath the ground floor is ideal for creating a new basement. Even a concrete floor doesn’t make it impossible.
If you’re considering a basement conversion in London, consult a specialist for ideas before you start planning. Small basements can be just as functional as big ones if you plan the right space-saving ideas into them.
Unless you were thinking of reaching your bat cave with a fireman’s pole, you’ll need a staircase. The footprint of a conventional staircase eats a chunk of your new floor space before you begin, so this is definitely the place to explore space-saving alternatives.
Indoor staircases in old cottages were usually spiral. They would be tucked away next to the chimney column and often concealed behind what looked like a cupboard door. As well as a huge space saver, this helped fuel economy by controlling the airflow between floors. They are also delightful if you want privacy in your new space – or to keep it a surprise for guests!
Open-plan spiral staircases also save physical space, but save even more perceptually. If they have a light minimalist design (such as metal-supported glass), it feels as if they aren’t even there.
Or create your new access outside the original building. Excavating a stairwell beyond the outer wall has the fantastic bonus of bringing direct sunlight down into the basement. You can still roof and enclose it if you want comfortable all-weather access.
External stairs also mean that visitors, clients or tenants can have direct access.
Shelving and Storage Ideas
A new open-plan stairwell can be designed to create a shelf at the back of every step. That adds up to a lot of discrete shelf space. Another approach is to build pull-out bookshelves perpendicular to the wall under the stairs. This transforms this often wasted space into almost 100% storage volume.
If the purpose of your new basement is expressly for storage, then consider the system used in county archives – shelving that pushes together on runners. This will at least quadruple your effective storage capacity.
Doors and Walls
Modern sliding doors are neither noisy nor inclined to stick like old ones did.
Doorways need a lot of space around them and limit your options for arranging furniture. Today’s sliding doors run quietly and smoothly and recess into the void between the two wall surfaces. Bi-fold or “French accordion” doors are another option and look elegant.
Taking it a step further, concertina room dividers could let you use the same space in a variety of ways. Also consider Japanese-style shoji doors. An even more radical solution is an overhead door similar to those used on garages.
We have lots of other ideas – but we want to leave space for you!