Is your terraced house feeling a bit too small but you love it too much to think about moving?
Have your circumstances changed since you bought the house and now you ﬁnd you need another bedroom or a home ofﬁce or a place for the children to play, or provide some space for an elderly relative?
Or now that your life has moved into a new phase you find yourself wishing you had some space dedicated to your favourite hobby?
Well if you answered yes to any of the questions above then a basement might be an ideal addition to your property and you’ve come to the right place…
NOTE: Don’t miss the ‘Case Study Video‘ section at the end of this post. It will show you how to take what you learn in this blog post to an entirely new level…
Whilst a basement is the most expensive and time consuming method of making a terraced house bigger, the hassle is well worth it as you are effectively adding an entire floor to your property at a bare minimum.
At the last Grand Designs Live Show in London, George Clarke (the guy from The Home Show & Amazing Spaces on TV) told me a very interesting story.
He told me that he had to visit a man’s house in Nottingham as part of his show Amazing Spaces and to his surprise the guy had a pond in his living room.
Except it turned out it wasn’t a pond, but was in fact the entrance to a massive storey sized aquarium he had built in his basement!
And in this aquarium he had stingrays, turtles, catfish and the 4ft alligator gar fish!
Here’s what one of those look like!
Not many people know this but George is a bit claustrophobic and he had to get the wet suit gear on and get into this thing.
And let me repeat this is some blokes basement!
And once he is down there, the turtles proceeded to take a fancy to Georges toes and there wasn’t much he could do except push his face up into a 6 inch gap between the water and the underside of the living room floor pleading to get out!
Needless to say he wasn’t happy!
But the real interesting part of this story is that the guy who owned the house had built all this himself.
All the demolition, all the structure, the aquarium itself, everything.
Now I’m not sure I would be too happy about someone building something like that beside my house as I’m sure you wouldn’t be too keen on it either.
But the fact is the guy knew exactly what he wanted to use his basement for and it formed the basis of how he built his basement.
And you need to have this crystal clear clarity too when it comes to your basement.
So to help you with that, we’ve listed below a list of rooms & spaces that are ideally suited for a Terraced House Basement be it a new one built from scratch or converting one you already have.
Double height basements are now beginning to be frowned upon by planners especially in London as they are usually constructed by foreign investors who don’t actually live in the property but subject the neighbours to a couple of years of noise, dirt dust.
In fact one woman whose planning application got rejected for this very reason took it very personally and painted her house in red & white stripes just to pee off the neighbours:
But these issues aside constructing a basement has massive advantages, the biggest one being that we have more options when it comes to layout.
In fact we can usually have them as open plan as we want and it largely doesn’t matter what the floors above look like, we more or less have a blank canvas to play with.
And as a result our room options dramatically increase.
So we’ve put a list of rooms to get your brain going and for you to get a feel of just what is possible with a terraced house basement.
Now this list is far from complete, we felt 39 was enough for a blog post and we’ve got an infographic version of this post as well as a text version.
You can download the infographic here.
We have hit on the main categories of rooms and you can view the text sections of this article by clicking on one of the links below to view the basement room ideas from that section:
Let’s start with the infographic… (Click the image to enlarge or download it here)
And here is the text version.
Ok let’s go down to the basement & get started!
Living spaces are the rooms in your basement that support you & your family and how you use your home and not just rooms to gather and hang out in. Here are a few that are very suitable for a basement:
1) Family Room
The family room is a room where your family can gather together and relax. The number one factor for this kind of room is comfort and the space should be inviting and a natural place for the family to get together in the evening.
A dry cool basement is an ideal place to store food.
3) Wine Storage Room
A dry cool basement is also an ideal place to store wine. Basements without heating generally stay at around 12 or 13 degrees centigrade which is ideal for storing wine.
Humidity should be kept between 50% & 70% and the room kept dark. The middle of the basement is an ideal place for this kind of space.
This might come across as an odd one but I have seen several basements that had seriously equipped kitchens in them and they worked really well for the house as a whole.
There are issues with fire protection, smoke extraction and multiple means of escape for the basement but these are all easily dealt with.
5) Laundry Room
The middle of a basement tends to be quite dark unless you specifically design for getting natural light into the space.
This lack of light makes the middle of a basement an ideal spot to locate rooms that provide a specific function but aren’t a place to hang out in.
A laundry room is an ideal example of this.
6) Utility Room
As is a more multi-purpose utility room.
Or maybe you just want more storage space.
A trick to use here is to keep the ceiling of the storage room unplastered so you can use the floor joists to hang extra storage cabinets for various bits and bobs.
Toilets can be located in the middle of a basement too as they can function quite well without natural lighting.
9) Luxury Bathroom
If you want to have a luxury bathroom in your basement then this will require some natural light.
The ideal place to have one is right under the front entrance to the ground floor as you can put in a glass block floor which will get light into the space without compromising your privacy and you can of course furnish the bathroom anyway you see fit.
You can also have a jacuzzi or large tub in this space.
Basements are ideal places to locate large heavy tubs as they can be comfortably supported on the concrete basement slabs.
10) Self-Contained Flat
A self-contained flat is essentially combining the kitchen & luxury bathroom above with a bedroom.
The bedroom can be located to the front of the house which is also where we have our luxury bathroom.
The kitchen can be placed in the middle of the basement but we do need to factor in ways to get natural light into the space which is very doable.
11) Guest Room
Or if you don’t fancy a self-contained flat then we can omit the kitchen and keep the luxury bathroom & bedroom and use these spaces for guests.
You can fit several bedrooms into a basement and because room layouts can be very flexible in the basement we can get very creative with how we lay them out so we can either squeeze more in there add less with a touch of luxury to them.
Ideally the bedrooms should have windows which places them at either end of the basement but if that isn’t possible the room can still be livened up with bright colours and spot & overhead lighting.
13) Master Suite
You can of course use the guestroom & bathroom as a master suite instead.
14) In-Law Suite
Or you can create an in-law suite to take care of an elderly family member or a member of the family that has a disability whilst also affording them some independence too.
This is a spin on the self contained flat but with a greater focus on mobility and usability for the person using the room.
Factor into the design things like wider doors, plenty of natural light to get into the space and a separate entrance than to the rest of the house.
15) Rehabilitation Room
You could also have a purpose built rehabilitation room for use by a recently disabled family member.
Again planning access, door widths and mobility in this type of space are important.
16) Home Office/Study
A home office could pretty much fit anywhere in the house but they make a really cool addition if you build your basement to extend under your rear garden.
With this scenario you can create a link to the outside with your office or study which makes it an inspiring place to work.
The goal for any home office/study is to create an efficient work area where everything that is needed is within touching distance.
Whilst not strictly a work room, I personally use my library as a work tool and dedicate 1 hour every day to studying various topics so am including it here.
Books are heavy when lumped together so a basement is an ideal place for a library as the concrete floors can take heavier loads than the timber floors above.
18) Art Studio
You can make your basement as open plan as you want so you can have a nice open space to use as an art studio.
If you extend your basement underneath your rear garden you can create a beautiful space with a link to the outside as we discussed earlier.
An art studio requires plenty of storage for supplies as well as good ventilation and lighting.
19) Photography Studio
If you’re still using the darkroom for developing photographs then the middle of the basement is ideal for that.
You’ll also need to use sealed doors to prevent light entering although this is less of an issue the nearer the middle the basement you are.
Other requirements are a ventilation system to remove chemical fumes, a sink and plenty of storage and a low intensity red light so you can see what you’re doing without ruining the photographic paper.
20) Recording Studio
The middle of the basement is a perfect area for a recording studio as you can sound proof that portion of the basement most effectively.
It could also double up as a rehearsal room too.
21) Dance Studio
Again because basements can be as open plan as you want, you can create the ideal open plan dance studio.
22) Candle Making Room
I included this one because I designed a basement a few years back that had a candle making room and it had candle wicks all over the place.
Storage is important for this type of room as is ventilation.
23) Woodwork Room
For the wood working enthusiast, this would ideally be located to the rear of the house although access for material & equipment deliveries would need to be considered.
Adequate storage is a must and can be provided by plenty of shelving.
A neat trick is having a workbench that can be folded up or moved under a countertop when not in use.
24)Model Building Room
Again you can create a really cool model building room that can be sized to suit even the biggest of model kits.
25) Knitting Room
The rear of the property would be an ideal place for this as it’s away from the road and you can create a nice relaxing space to knit away to your hearts content.
Supplies can be stored in wicker baskets and a chest of drawers will suffice for yarn needles, etc
26) Sewing/Quilting Room
A sewing room needs a bit more space than a knitting room so you can spread out the quilts or clothes.
You also need more storage too for all the supplies.
Good lighting and a nice relaxing place to sit should be factored into the design and laminate timber flooring makes a sensible choice as it’s easy to spot and pick up needles that get dropped on to it.
With a bit of thought you can design some really cool places to spend time in and here are a few ideas:
27) Music Room
Being a rock music (& 80’s music) fan, this one is near and dear to my heart.
Material finishes are something to consider here as you don’t want too hard or soft surfaces to either bounce around or absorb the sound.
A good rule of thumb is if the floor is soft (like a carpet finish) then the ceiling should be hard (such as a plaster finish).
Glass surfaces are a no go in a music room.
28) Home Bar
I once worked on a job where the client had a traditional English style pub built in the rear of his terraced house basement and it was linked outside to a retro barbecue area he had constructed on top of the basement roof slab.
Now that is the life.
29) Home Cinema/Entertainment Centre
One of the more common rooms found in larger basements is the movie room.
You can fit a fully equipped screen and surround sound system and if you’re worried about noise you can sound proof the room too.
These can be placed towards the middle of the basement as natural light isn’t such an issue with these types of rooms.
30) Games Room
Snooker or pool tables, ping pong tables, arcade machines, games consoles, darts, etc
The scope for this type of room is ridiculous and it can be placed pretty much anywhere in the basement that you like but a room like this does require a good bit of space.
One thing though is to provide comfortable seating next to games tables as some games do involve standing for prolonged periods of time such as snooker and pool.
For adult games rooms these do tend to go well when mixed with a bar & music room
For teenagers you can remove the bar!
31) Children’s Playroom
If you’ve got young kids you can build them a nicely designed playroom with lots of nooks and crannies for them to discover.
A room like this needs plenty of storage and safety is a design consideration.
Placing the kids room near the home office or family room will allow you to supervise them to make sure they’re ok.
If this isn’t possible then you can get a home monitor or intercom to keep in contact with them as they play.
32) Gym Room
Gym equipment lends itself to sitting on concrete floors however a gym room does usually need to be towards the front of the house to get the equipment in as some of it like treadmillls and the like can be very big and heavy.
My advice with these types of rooms is get the equipment in early whilst there is room to do it, don’t wait until the basement is finished as you’ll have a nightmare getting all the gear into the place.
If you do it early you can also have the gym room out the back of the house, either way you will need windows for ventilation.
In both situations make sure that the entrance doors that lead to the gym room are wider than normal to get the gear through.
Spas can be a wonderful space to relax in but make sure they are separated from the rest of the spaces in the basement so the daily traffic doesn’t disturb your quiet time.
34) Swimming Pool
Swimming pools tend to be built with double height basements as the size of a swimming pool will take out a large area of the basement, however you can just as easily build them in a single storey basement if you are ok with having less room to use for other spaces.
35) Steam room
Steam rooms are generally the same size as a bathroom and utilise humid heat rather than the dry heat of a sauna.
Steam rooms have all sorts of health benefits and you can even use essential oils with the steam delivery system so can use this room for aromatherapy too.
36) Yoga Room
You can also create a chilled yoga room, you can even create a bikram yoga room if you wish, fully equipped with the relevant heating systems to get things warmed up.
You will require ventilation for that kind of room so either the front or rear room of the basement is best.
37) Meditation Room
Alternatively you can create a chilled out meditation room fully equipped with an audio system to play some meditation music or trances to get you in the right state.
Last but not least we come to animal spaces for our dear pets. I’ve seen dog rooms, cat rooms & aviaries over the years.
I’ve even seen a squirrel room, am not kidding, and it was the fattest squirrel I’ve ever seen, it was like a sumo squirrel!
These spaces do work well when there is good access to outdoors so the obvious place is to the rear of the basement especially if you build out underneath your garden.
Remember the aquarium I mentioned at the start of this article? Well the reason it works is because the heavy loads from an aquarium do suit basement floors and here is a video of that very aquarium that was built in a basement in Nottingham:
So there you have the 39 rooms you can put in a terraced house basement!
Now as you may appreciate a lot of these rooms can be put in several categories and not just that, a lot of them can be mixed and matched or you could design a room to perform double duty by having 2 or more functionalities built in.
So when you think about that, the list suddenly becomes exponential and I have left quite a lot of rooms out too.
The only limit is your imagination.
So what do you think of this list of rooms? I’d love the hear what you’ve got to say in the comments section below.
The Ultimate Terraced House Basement Information Pack
In the meantime if you would like to know how to layout your basement AND make sure that the building work goes as planned then you need to check out a our Terraced House Basement Information Pack.
This information pack has been developed over the last 16 years in designing & managing peoples basement projects.
Here are some of the things that are covered:
- Step-by-step, easy to follow instructions that show you how to create a basement underneath your terraced house
- How to AVOID BEING RIPPED OFF by builders during the work
- Several basement layouts so you can pick and choose what to do with your basement space
- Where to get some other work done to your home that will ADD A LOT TO THE VALUE of your property
- How to make sure and check that you are getting quality workmanship in your basement
- How to put a world class bathroom into your basement
And this is just a sample!
This info will give you confidence when you deal with builders so you’re not taken for a fool or even worse ripped off.
So to find out more all you have to do is click the link below: