As homeowners are spending more time at home, they may be contemplating ways to create more space and add value. If so, it might be time to urge them to take a closer look at their cellar. This inhabitable space might not look like much right now, but even the smallest cellars can be transformed into something practical and beautiful. Whether an extra bedroom, an office, or gym, transforming the cellar could provide the ideal solution.
Read on to find more you can share with a potential clients on how to convert their cellars into a beautiful and functional living space.
Reasons to convert
Many older homes like Victorian, Georgian, and Edwardian come with a cellar – a room which was generally used for coal storage or as a scullery or larder many years ago. With few people now using coal fires and there being no need for rooms like these, they’re mostly either used for storage or ignored. This makes them ideal for development by homeowners seeking extra space in their homes.
If the homeowner wants to create more space in the home but extending it upwards or outwards isn’t possible, it makes sense to consider converting the cellar. It’s a viable option, especially because it’s physically close to the ground floor and reception rooms. Not only is it in the perfect location for additional living space, but it’s unlikely to drastically alter the home’s exterior, with major extension work rarely required. Converting the cellar allows the homeowner to create a substantial amount of space – something which is likely to make the property very appealing to potential buyers.
The options for transforming the cellar into a functional space are almost endless, with so many possibilities for this vacant room. You can convert the cellar into a playroom or home gym, or even relocate the boiler there, creating a utility room and freeing up more space in the home. Alternatively, you could turn the cellar into a self-contained unit, making it ideal for use as an annex or an office. However, keep in mind that if you want it to become an independent separate dwelling, you’ll need to obtain planning permission.
If the living room is being taken over by toys, why not transform the cellar into a playroom? All kids need space to release their energy, so giving them a designated area to play could be a great idea. While it won’t require a big or expensive renovation (especially since its use will change once the children have grown up), it’s important to make the space fun and imaginative. Consider square carpet tiles rather than carpeting if damp is likely to be an issue, and opt for durable furniture fabric, such as suede. This is a must for a playroom, with seating likely to get heavily used and become stained over time. Choose bright colors for décor and make sure the room is adequately lit.
Subterranean rooms are great for home cinemas as they let in minimal light, giving the perfect environment to create a real cinematic experience. The homeowner can immerse in movies without the sound interfering with other rooms in the house. High-quality home cinema equipment is available to suit a range of budgets, but make sure the cellar has a waterproofing system in place. It will need to be insulated, plastered, and then soundproofed so that it’s suitable for a home cinema. You’ll also need to consider electrical cabling when planning the layout of the room. Don’t forget to add some comfy cinema-style chairs to relax on too. Go for squashy sofas that are comfy and cozy, or to imitate a real cinema, opt for individual armchairs.
The biggest challenge of working out is often just showing up! At the end of a long day, fighting the traffic to get to the gym can seem like a battle we can do without. If this sound familiar, why not think about transforming the cellar into a personal workout center? Being able to get fit and healthy without even leaving the home can certainly be convenient and appealing. The first thing needed to consider is the flooring. While rubber is often the first choice for home gyms, consider carpeting over rubber flooring to provide greater comfort and better aesthetics. Also, make sure the room is well-lit, with overhead lighting helping to boost motivation while working out.
Most guys dream of having a mancave to escape to for relaxation and “me time”, so why not create one? Whether married with kids or living the single life, a man cave is an ideal space in which to chill out. Those clients will love having total control over the design and décor and adding whatever items they like to enhance the room. For example, incorporating a wide-screen TV, video game console, pool table, and even a refrigerator to keep drinks and snacks cool.
As this will be a room to kick back and relax in, it makes sense to make sure there’s somewhere to sit too.
Many people are choosing to convert their cellars into extra bedrooms. Whether the family is growing or in need of a guest room, transforming the cellar is certainly an easier and more affordable option than moving to a new house.
One of the most important things to think about when turning the cellar into a bedroom is natural light. Natural light is important in any bedroom; however, it can be hard to get sufficient daylight into a cellar. A cellar bedroom should have an openable window that can be used as a fire escape. If the window doesn’t provide enough light, you can always create light wells or shafts to promote natural daylight. There are so many décor ideas for cellar bedrooms, however, if the room is relatively small, consider using lighter colors such as white and pastels to make it appear more spacious. It may be possible to install an en suite too, which can be a good idea if it’s a guest bedroom and you want to make your visitors feel more at home.
In many big cities, properties often have very little outside space, with gardens in short supply. This can make it difficult to enjoy nature without venturing further afield. So, why not consider transforming the gloomy basement into a garden? Garden basements are a fantastic way to connect the house with the garden, making a great alternative to a conservatory. Although cellars are underground, they will still let enough light in if you have steps leading up to ground level outdoors. This will allow lots of natural daylight to enter the room. Light is probably the most challenging aspect of a creating basement garden, especially as some plants require more sunlight than others.
There is also a need to make sure the basement is warm and ventilated properly. Just like in an outdoor garden, plants need warmth and the right level of oxygen to grown and flourish. Ensure that the space is draft-free by installing heaters to maintain a suitable temperature. If the basement is also damp, fans are needed to help move the air around and stop rot occurring.
If your client is thinking of transforming their cellar into a functional space within your home, they will need to find out if it’s suitable for conversion. They should get in touch with an experienced builder and organize a cellar survey. They will analyze options and identify any issues that they might face. They’ll also inform the client of waterproofing regulations that the cellar would need to adhere to.
It’s also important to keep in mind that cellar conversions which are intended to be used as living areas are covered by building regulations. This is to make sure that buildings are safe and hygienic, as well as energy-efficient. The regulations for cellar conversions include waterproofing, ventilation, fire escapes, wiring, and ceiling height. There’s a lot to consider when thinking about converting the cellar, so check with specialists adhering to local building law.
If the client needs more space in her home, or simply wants to add value to it, converting the cellar into a functional space could be the right move. Whether they want to add an extra bedroom, a playroom, or even a gym, the options are endless. There are so many things that can be done to a dark and dreary cellar to transform it into an attractive and practical space within the home. Converting a cellar can be stressful, but it’s usually a smooth and organized task providing an experienced team is on hand.
Anna Sharples is the office and marketing manager for Sloane & Sons.
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