Is Your Basement Scary? 6 Cellar Upgrades To Do Before You Sell

“I love my basement,” said no one—ever. It’s not as if most of us trot down to our home’s underbelly to hang out and gaze at the fabulous view of the washing machine.

But if you’re thinking of selling your home, it’s a smart idea to improve this space with a few small, inexpensive upgrades.

The reason? A scary basement can be a turn-off to buyers, so if you hope to fetch top dollar for your home, you should spruce it up.

That said, Jeanine Boiko, a real estate agent in New York, says she “doesn’t recommend clients put out a lot of money prior to selling.”

If most buyers in your area tend to renovate to their own tastes—or raze homes to the ground and start over—it just means that your money (and your efforts) will be wasted. Instead, be judicious with your décor tweaks, and try to use pieces you already have.

If you’re the DIY type, all the better, since you’ll lay out a lot less money. Check out these simple, fast basement fixes.

1. Make your basement a worthy destination

If there’s nothing to greet you in the basement save for some old paint cans and a dozen boxes of Christmas decorations, this space won’t be too appealing. But if you amp up the fun, it’ll become a destination worth visiting.

Billie Marie Tharaldson of Julian design recommends a lower-level remodel, if you can swing it, to create extra space in the basement that could be used for entertaining.

“Make this spot a fun place to be, with cozy furnishings and finishes,” she says.

While you might not have a full-size pool table hanging around, another table set up for cards or art projects can help provide a similar vibe. Lay an all-weather rug underneath and add a few chairs that aren’t in use elsewhere for a quick game room.


2. Fix your basement lighting

Most basements read dank and dark, so improving the light you have can go a long way toward making this space usable.

“Basements usually lack architecture and good lighting compared to the rest of the home, so pay attention to these details,” says Tharaldson.

An electrician will charge hundreds to install high hats or recessed lights, so you might want to bring in more standing and table lamps from other rooms to brighten this area.


3. Stage a home office

Since working from home is the new normal, rehabbing your basement to include an office nook is right on the money.

“Try a thrift or secondhand store for a simple desk, and then roll in a chair and other accessories from different parts of the house,” says Boiko.

Add a bookcase to the opposite wall for office supplies and storage—or install a set of plain shelves for the same purpose.


4. Try a statement wall

You might not telegraph your fave team sport in the dining room, but displaying it in the basement is a safe enough décor choice. The bottom line: Always include a hint of flair in this lower-level space, lest it feel cold and uninviting, says Anna Brockway, co-founder and president of Chairish.

“Art or wallpaper can do wonders for making this room feel as special and useful as other parts of the house,” she says.

To limit your outlay, apply removable, peel-and-stick wallpaper and cover just a single accent wall.


Fill up a boring wall with pictures you’ve stashed in the attic, or download free art options and frame them affordably.

“Go big! Find something that inspires you and lifts your spirits when you look at it,” says Brockway.

Chairish carries a range of exclusive gallery wall sets too, or you could repurpose your kids’ artwork for this décor job.


6. Screen it off

The truth is, most of us have a basement filled with hulking appliances and other immovable gear, like the boiler and hot water heater.

So rather than try to create a room in the middle of this mess, and pretend it isn’t there, pick up a screen or two to hide these unsightly pieces.

Two simple room dividers made with rice-paper panels will run you just under $200 (Home Depot), but the investment is worth it, if you’ll reuse them in another space in your new home.



**Post & Images from by Jennifer Kelly Geddes 10/26/21