Choosing Colors in the Basement

When we moved into our home our basement was covered in high gloss white paint. There were no lights anywhere.

The carpet was old. And the window wells . . . well, you can see one of them below. They were hand painted. This window well in particular is actually covered by an addition upstairs. The window is obviously inoperable and not an ounce of sunlight comes through there. My favorite thing was when people would compliment my painting skills when they would see the window well. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time.

However, not shown in this picture is the window well with pink elephants, martinis and lemon wedges. THAT ONE is my favorite.

Picking Basement Paint Colors

Looking for basement paint colors? One tip. Yellow is not it.

I recently told my interior designer friend and HGTV design host Brian Patrick Flynnthat I was thinking of picking yellow for my basement. His response?

“Yellow makes me want to stab a kitten.”

Awesome that I sought that advice AFTER I had painted about 5 different yellow patches in my basement.

So how do you pick a paint color for your basement? Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t do yellow. Yellow needs natural light and is great for wet spaces like laundry rooms, kitchens and pool houses (straight from the mouth of Brian)
  • Never use flesh tones
  • Think about your lighting. You probably need to add some. The lighting in our basement was horrible. In order to brighten things up, we couldn’t just pick a great paint color, we needed to add more LIGHT
  • Test out your paint color using different light bulbs. Different bulbs will bring out different shades in your color.
  • Use low or zero VOC paint

Perfect Basement Paint Colors (according to the kitten killer . . . Brian Patrick Flynn)

  • Greige
  • Grey
  • Blue

Here’s what ensued after his sage advice. I like to call it: 50 Shades of Greige

And The Winner Is

It was a color called “Mega Greige” that we had Lowes match in the Valspar Ultra (Zero VOC paint). We also had them reduce the color intensity by 2 shades. It was important to me to find something that would feel light and bright, even though our basement is dark with low ceilings. It seemed counter intuitive to use anything dark or grey. But with the right accents it works. The #2 comment I always get on my basement is how light and bright it feels. (the #1 comment is how soft and fantastic my carpet is).

You can see in the photo above that we decided to frame in the inoperable window. That alone took care of so much awkwardness in our basement. We put new baseboards and trim throughout the entire basement, added electrical and lighting throughout, and of course, PAINTED. (not an ounce of high gloss left!)

Pulling in Color

Once we finished everything I realized I needed to pull some bright colors into the room. I found this awesome table at DownEast Home here in SLC. They are known nationally for selling clothing online through their site DownEast Basics (they’ve also got a bunch of retail stores), but if you live in Utah, their DownEast Home stores are packed with amazing, discounted deals on high end furniture. Like this awesome turquoise accent table:

Here’s a sampling of other colorful items I had my eye on in the DownEast Home store:

It was hard to choose.

Other ways I’ve added color to the basement?

Colorful Accents

A little turquoise on the mantle to accent my beloved table:

Some colorful books betwixt the cutest whale bookends that you ever did see:

A bit of orange at the far end of the room displaying my Utah pride (found on Etsy):

A bit of orange at the far end of the room displaying my Utah pride (found on Etsy):

And a few earthy items to mix it up:

This room is actually really long, so we built these faux beams to break it up, and also to add a little more white to the room to brighten things up.

I’ve still got a little ways to go in terms of fully furnishing the basement. With any project I think the mantra has to be “one step at a time”. That has to be my decorating focus as well. On my wish list? I’d love to get a cozy leather chair for the right side of that turquoise table. One step at a time . . .

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