Basement Remodels

_**Fitchburg**_: Built-in shelving and recessed lights help solve spacing issues in the great room, and a couch divides the lounge area from the exercise area.
Photograph by Eric Tadsen

If your basement isn’t finished, odds are making use of that space is on your remodeling wish list. Maybe it’s an extra bedroom, room for entertainment, a workspace, a playroom, a gym, or just something to up your home’s resale value. A finished basement can be a cool place to hang out on a hot Wisconsin summer day.

Sugar Creek Homes in Verona has been doing basement remodels for years, and two of their recent jobs highlight different takes on interpreting unrealized space.

These homeowners wanted “more of a sitting area. Books. A TV setting. Nice and casual,” says Tim Burke of Sugar Creek Homes. But to get there they had to deal with the soffits for the duct work, and there were a lot of them. “The soffits are always tricky. In this case, they put the furnace in the middle of the room, and they really didn’t think about where to put things when finishing the basement. When I build a new house, I look at how we are going to finish it. Where are the soffits going to be? I try to put the furnace in line to limit the amount of duct work that needs soffits.”

Very quickly, space becomes an issue. The ceiling is low, on eight-foot walls, and the soffit work cuts down the height even more in some places. There’s also an issue of cluttering floor space with furniture. Using the walls and ceiling provide a perfect solution. Built-in shelves and recessed lights allow the space to achieve a desired coziness without feeling cramped.

With the furnace in the middle of the basement, thoughtfulness in planning is a must to get the most out of the living space. Having a long great room works with a couch dividing the space into an exercise area and a lounge area. This allows the homeowners to switch things up in the future if they want.

Carpeting and a half bath motivate the homeowners and their guests to make frequent use of their new space. Additional shelving in the basement’s utility area will help ensure that the space is divided into a storage area and a space that everyone can enjoy.

The goal with this property was to create a second living area, complete with a kitchen and island, living space, bedroom, bath, and even a secret doorway disguised as a bookshelf leading to a children’s playroom (you have to pull a book to unlatch the door). In order to get things rolling, the remodel started with removing a loadbearing wall.

“I was working by myself, and had to figure out a way to get a 20-foot beam up in the air,” says Tim. The engineers from Wisconsin Building Supply helped calculate the load that the beam would carry. This opened up the section for the refrigerator. “It didn’t seem like a lot, but it was enough to make the room feel bigger.”

Thanks to yellow tones used throughout and a lot of natural light from waist-high egress windows, the room now feels quite open. The end result is a space that gives the impression of being on the ground floor rather than underground.

With a beautiful vinyl floor mimicking maple wood and white trim accenting the island’s granite countertop, everything ties together to create a second family room, a room for parties, or a guest area for friends and family.

Finishing Your Basement
The thought of finishing your basement can be daunting. In the case of these projects, Tim says, “Literally both basements were floor to ceiling with personal belongings.” The families had to sort through their belongings to make room for construction.

Pragmatically, “the best place to start is your budget.” If you want a bathroom or kitchen, you’re talking more money. The Fitchburg basement remodel cost the family $20,000, whereas the kitchen alone in the DeForest home was $25,000. When you start looking at the options that are realistically affordable, you can determine what you want based on your budget.

Educating yourself beforehand is wise, but talking with a professional is essential. Designers like Tim provide options you may not have known were available. Getting the job done is one thing, but when you find the designer that’s right for you, the end result will be a space that not only increases the overall value of your home, but provides something your family will enjoy for many years to come.

Photographs by Eric Tadsen.

Sugar Creek Homes LLC
237 Ridge View Trail
Verona, WI 53593