Creating a hospitable and habitable basement living space

Most basements are underutilized real estate, often used for storage, home gyms or kids’ recreation rooms. By warming up these subterranean spaces with a few creature comforts, you can create an inviting apartment, perfect for grown children living at home, house guests or home-sharing.

Bedding buy

Let the sunshine in your basement boudoir with blooming florals from bluebellgray, the flirty and fashionable bedding that Lena Dunham slept pretty on in HBO’s Girls. Add uptown style to your downstairs space with the collection’s assortment of bold and bright or subtle and elegant patterns of duvet covers ($270, with closeout styles priced as low as $37), sheet sets ($75-$165) and decorative pillows ($85-$100) to create the look and mood you want. Available at Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s.

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Get FLOR’d

Polished concrete floors of unfinished basements is a vogue look, but it can be cold and hard on feet. Warm up the space and add a splash of style with FLOR carpet tiles. The brands innovated design concept allows you to mix and match tiles to create a unique look, and the tiles are easily replaceable and washable. The materials are also low VOCs, so there are no toxic fumes as with many other carpeting textiles. The floor DIY tiles are designed to hug the floor, and they come with adhesive dots that hold the tiles together, so there is no need for nails, tax or glue, or even additional padding.

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Warm and fuzzy

Stay cozy in your basement space with plenty of warm blankets, like the snuggly Heat Holders Thermal Oversized Throw/Blanket ($29.99), available in seven fashion colors to fit in with your decor.  The super soft fur fleece, called HeatWeaver, was developed to be efficient at retaining heat, which is why it has an official TOG rating of 1.4, making the material measurably warmer to the touch.

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Dry time

Basements don’t have to be damp.  Invest in a good dehumidifier. This will not only make the environment more comfortable to live in, less humid in the summer and less cold in the winter. It will help eliminate that musty smell of furniture, clothes and other items stored in the basement. The Frigidaire FFAD5033R1 Energy Star 50-pint unit ($279, Best Buy, Sears, Home Depot) will effectively dry up a large basement, and it has a stylish design so that it won’t be an eyesore in the room. This type of unit has an option to drain into a tank, which has an alarm and it automatically shuts off if the bucket gets too full; or you can use a hose and it can automatically flow into a drain. With an effective dehumidifier, odors from mold and mildew caused by excess moisture can be eliminated, along with airborne bacteria that can make breathing difficult and irritate allergies.

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The smart basement

Keep your basement space and entire home comfortable year-round with a thermostat that you can regulate from anywhere – at home or outside the home.  Cool off or warm up the basement before you get home with the programmable  Honeywell Lyric WiFi Thermostat ($199, Home Depot)  This Wi-Fi thermostat is Apple HomeKit and Amazon Echo compatible, so you can control your HVAC system with Siri or Alexa voice commands and through your smartphone.

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Never worry again if you leave on the heat or AC after you have left the house, and with Lyric WiFi Water Leak and Freeze Detector ($79.99, Home Depot) you can track for mold, water damage and pipe leaks from your phone, for added peace of mind when you are away from home. Check out the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=yKKrFaJbRy8

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Heat it up

It is a fact of thermodynamics that hot air rises, cold air sinks, so it’s not surprising the basement is often the chilliest place in the house. In order for basement dwellers to keep warm, often the furnace has to be turned up so high that the upstairs occupants are boiling hot. Avoid this upstairs downstairs feud with a cost efficient space heater. Honeywell, one of the most trusted names and heating and air conditioning, makes a number of reliable and safe room heaters. Their latest digital 360 surround heater ($39.99), one of their bestsellers, delivers 25% warmer heat output and 20% faster room heat up compared to prior models.

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It also features an automatic shut off if it is tipped over and an automatic shut off if the unit gets too hot. Also has a four-hour programmable thermostat and timer and a handy remote control you can place on a bed stand, so you don’t have to get up to adjust it during the night. The Honeywell Digital display ceramic tower heater ($39.99-$69.99) with a remote control is a tall stylish design that oscillates to give you full room heat. This style is perfect for rooms where floor space is at a premium, and it features tip over and over heat protection or piece of mine, and it’s great if you have small children or pets, because it features a safeguard motion sensor that shuts off of any object gets too close.  Available at www.honeywellpluggedin.com Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Amazon.

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Be alarmed

It’s an unpleasant thing to think about, but carbon monoxide leaks from furnaces can kill, and most furnaces are located in basements. Make sure you safeguard yourself with a CO alarm. Kidde makes some of the best-rated CO alarms in the industry, including their single screw easy install combination smoke and CO alarm ($53) that is always on and features a sealed lithium battery that lasts for 10 years and has a hush button too quickly silence false alerts. It also has a voice alarm that states “Fire!” and an 85 decibel alarm if carbon monoxide or smoke is detected. Kidde also makes a plug-in CO detector ($67) unit perfect for hallways that doubles as a night light that even works when the power goes out.

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Note:  The companies featured in this article provided sample products for review, but the opinions stated belong to the author.

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