Great mention for BasementWorks in ’Bridge for Design’ - Spring issue
“It seems that almost everyone is getting home cinemas, gyms and wine cellars and very likely these are located below ground. In fact, digging down has become di rigueur for those with family houses across London, so much so that planning applications in certain areas have doubled over the last few years.
However, how you do your basement [it] is just as important as the square footage added. It used to be the case that any subterranean space commanded lesser resale value than the above-ground accommodation, but basement conversions are so much more sophisticated now that they are valued at the same rate as the rest of the house.
The key is to make any habitable area into really superb living space – this can be the deciding factor as to whether you make a profit on your investment. Not that home refurbishments are necessarily all about profit, of course, but no-one would want to miss the opportunity to maximise their investment.
If the space is going to be turned into truly desirable living space, it needs to be well designed and not resemble a utilitarian rectangle carved up by partition walls. Space, light and air are absolutely crucial to the success of the excavation. You really don’t want a basement to feel like a basement, but a natural yet modern extension to your existing house.
To bring light below ground is always a challenge, but this can be done by creating carefully positioned lightwells both at the front and back of the property, and even at the side where possible.
Space planning and flow of rooms is also very important and it’s essential to utilise the staircase area so that the existing house doesn’t feel disjointed from the basement. A really handsome staircase using materials such as glass, metal, hardwood, stone and leather can make the downward journey seem much more open and inviting.
Family rooms and guest bedrooms are logically placed next to lightwells to the front and rear of the house to allow direct light in through windows and glazed doors, whilst rooms that do not require direct sunlight such as laundries, wine cellars or storage areas can be positioned to the centre of the basement.
Never skimp on the area allowed for the basement hallway; it shouldn’t be a narrow and cramped passageway, but a space that in itself is attractive and useful. Make the hallway an exciting visual experience with beautiful wallpaper, lighting and art because first impressions really do count.
As a basement excavation is the chance to plan space afresh, it’s much easier and more economical to add the latest technology here than to retrofit it upstairs. So if you’ve always longed for a cinema screen, surround sound and your music playlists accessed at the touch of a button then now’s your chance.
Another popular option is the wine cellar or wine room, which also needs technology since temperature, humidity and light need to be carefully controlled. Having the extra space allows you to make your wine collection spectacularly visible, which makes it easier to select the optimum bottle and show it off and enjoy the experience with your friends.
Most important of all, the added space created by a basement extension – if done cleverly – can be very flexible and be designed to change as the family grows. Basements are all about improving rather than moving and savvy homeowners are asking for high quality conversions that adapt with their lifestyles. A playroom and a nanny flat, for example, can transform into a teenage den and cinema/games room which later might work just as well as a private annex for an elderly parent.
Sometimes the most spectacular area of an otherwise ordinary home is at its subterranean level – a trend that’s set to continue.”