How to Remodel a Basement on a Budget (When to Splurge vs. Save)

July 11, 2023

Are you wondering how to remodel a basement on a budget? This is a great question for homeowners to consider! After all, not every change gives you the same “bang for your buck,” or return on your investment. In fact, some updates might be an outright waste of money!

To remodel a basement on a budget, you might improve part of the space or create an accent wall. Also, splurge on durable flooring, quality paint, and lighting. On the other hand, you can save by getting creative with furniture and dividers. Lastly, save by creating cheap storage solutions.

To find out more about how to remodel a basement on a budget, keep reading! Some added details about all these options ensure you make the best choices for your space. Also, don’t forget to consult with a home renovation contractor near you when needed. Their expert services ensure a basement remodel you’ll love for years to come.


how to remodel a basement on a budget

How to Remodel a Basement on a Budget - When to Splurge

When considering how to remodel a basement on a budget, you still want to splurge on a few items. After all, more money can sometimes mean higher-quality products and finishes! Check out when to splurge on your basement remodel:


Adequate lighting is crucial for a basement remodel, as dark basements are unsafe and unwelcoming. Consider adding additional lighting fixtures including recessed lights or track lighting. These are especially helpful in brightening up the space.

Also, track lighting allows you to angle individual lights as needed to highlight various features. For instance, you might angle one bulb toward the stairs, for increased safety. Additionally, don’t forget to opt for energy-efficient LED bulbs. These allow you to save on electricity costs in the long run!

Quality paint

Fresh paint updates and brightens up a basement instantly! Choose light, neutral colors when remodeling a basement. These make the space feel larger and more inviting. You might also have fun with a paint design including stripes or bold geometric patterns.

Also, while painting is a budget-friendly option, you don’t want to “skimp” on paint quality. Trapped humidity can make cheaper paint peel more easily. High-quality paint will last longer and offer a truer color even in a dark basement.


New flooring is an excellent choice for improving the look of any room in your home! Additionally, a new floor can make your basement look more like a standard room. Carpet is especially helpful for creating a soft, welcoming feeling.

Cost-effective flooring options for basements include laminate, vinyl, or engineered wood. These are all durable, moisture-resistant, and less expensive than traditional hardwood flooring or carpet. You might also check for carpet tiles, which adhere quickly and easily.

On the other hand, you don’t want to choose a low-quality flooring brand. As with paint, flooring options risk more damage in a basement than anywhere else in the home. This is especially true if you’ll be using the space as a rec room or “mancave.” The more foot traffic, the more wear and tear on that floor!

new basement flooring

Where else to splurge on your unfinished basement remodel

First, consider all needed repairs and waterproofing and invest in quality materials. Second, don’t overlook safety! For example, you might need to splurge on stair runners or even new stair treads for your basement.

Also, remember that sleeping spaces need proper egress in case of fire. In turn, you might need to splurge on new basement windows if you’re thinking of using it for a bedroom. For walkout basements, check the door locks and invest in something sturdier where needed.

Lastly, consider how you’ll use your new basement space. Are you planning on bringing down a large TV? If so, splurge on sturdy shelves or wall mounts, to avoid damage. You might also consider a quality dehumidifier to protect those electronics. Investing a bit more money now ensures those electronics last as long as possible in your new basement space.

Remodeling a Basement - Where to Save Money!

While you might splurge on some basement remodeling options, you can save on other choices! Check out where to cut costs on your planned basement update:

Painting the Basement Ceiling

  • Instead of investing in a complete ceiling overhaul, consider painting or refinishing the existing ceiling. For instance, you might paint exposed beams or ductwork matte black or fire engine red. These give the basement an industrial or modern aesthetic.

Hanging Curtains

  • Also, if you need to hide adjoining rooms, hang inexpensive curtains along doorways. These are far cheaper than new doors and help soften a basement space.

Opting for a Painted Concrete Floor

  • If you can’t afford new flooring, paint exposed concrete! Specialty concrete paint offers a water-resistant finish. Also, it helps brighten up the space for far less cost than carpet for tile. You can do the same for exposed basement walls.

Open Up the Basement Walls

  • For basements that feel closed-in, consider removing walls where possible. Removing unnecessary walls or partitions makes the space feel more spacious and versatile. However, it's important to consult with a professional to ensure you don’t remove load-bearing or essential walls.

remodeling a basement

Budget-Friendly Accessories for a Basement

Adding budget-friendly accessories ensures your new basement still offers a comfortable, inviting look. Check out some ideas you might incorporate into your partially finished basement:

  • Mirrors visually expand a space, bounce around light, and make a basement feel brighter. Look for affordable framed mirrors or explore thrift stores for unique finds.

  • Add warmth and coziness to your basement with affordable area rugs. They can define different functional zones, provide comfort underfoot, and add pops of color or patterns to the space.

  • Don’t forget artwork! Wall art transforms a plain basement wall into a focal point. Look for budget-friendly prints, posters, or framed photographs. You can also explore local thrift stores or online marketplaces for unique and inexpensive pieces.

  • Overhead lighting is important but so are other lighting fixtures! Bring in lamps, string lights, paper lanterns, or inexpensive pendant lights. Also, try battery-operated candles for some added warmth.

  • If you have the budget, install an electric fireplace. These offer the look of a fireplace without a real flame! They add coziness and warmth throughout the space.

  • Every basement needs toss pillows and blankets. Decorative throw pillows and cozy blankets add texture, color, and comfort to your furniture without breaking the bank.

  • Don’t forget needed storage in a basement. You can find affordable shelves at many home improvement stores. You can also make your own with scrap wood and other items. Use them to display books, games, and other items that bring some personality to the space.

What Is the First Thing to Do When Remodeling a Basement?

When remodeling a basement, you need first to consider repairs and waterproofing! Before you paint or make any other changes, ensure you’ve patched any cracks and leaks. Then, apply waterproofing to exposed walls.

Also, consider adding a sump pump or high-quality dehumidifier. These items help remove excess water before it risks damaging building materials in the space. A waterproofing contractor can assist with these steps as needed.

After you’ve addressed moisture issues, plan the layout and make sure you account for any unfinished space. Do this by deciding how you’ll use the space and fit your furniture. Next, create your budget for updates and renovation. If you’ll be making structural changes, obtain needed permits.

Lastly, select your materials and ensure you have everything on hand needed for the renovation. Since installing flooring often damages walls, do this before painting. Additionally, ensure you let flooring adhesive dry before walking on your new tile or carpeting! Do the same with paint before moving furniture into the space.

after a basement remodeling project

The Most Expensive Part of Finishing an Unfinished Basement

The most expensive part of finishing a basement is typically any plumbing and bathroom installation. For instance, if you plan to add a bathroom or wet bar, the plumbing work can cost thousands of dollars.

One reason is that new plumbing means extending water supply lines, drain lines, and vents, and connecting to the main sewer system. Two, new plumbing can involve excavation, permits, and hiring licensed plumbers, making it the most expensive part of basement finishing.

However, while plumbing installation is costly, it adds significant value to your finished basement! If you update the space to use it as a bedroom, this can also increase your home’s value significantly.

In addition to new plumbing, electrical work, HVAC installation, new insulation, and specialized features also add to those cost. Lastly, note that expanding the space or adding doors and windows also mean added costs. Your contractor will likely need to cut through concrete for these projects, which means hiring specialists. Also, they’ll need added permits and inspections, which also increase your costs.

A Word From Our Pros

Gold Heart Homes is happy to help explain how to remodel a basement on a budget. Hopefully we’ve given you some great tips to save money on your basement remodel project! If you’re ready to update your space, call our basement renovation contractors. We offer expert, affordable services and outstanding customer care. Remember that a basement remodel is an excellent investment in your home and your family! To find out more, contact us today.


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