We have a relatively small house under 1,500 square feet. A perfect little starter house. But as our toddler has started moving around, we realized that having an extra space for her to run around would be a great addition, especially during those cold Champaign-Urbana winter months! Since we have a full, unfinished basement, we have been slowly and cheaply setting it up as an extra play area/office space/guest room – basically an extension of our 3rd bedroom upstairs!
After this winter, we will likely evaluate to see if we will spend enough time downstairs to necessitate a little more “finishing.” This is our (unpatented) way to try something out without having to invest a lot of money upfront. We are doing a similar thing in our backyard during the summer months. If it turns out we spend a lot of time in either area, we may consider investing some money. If not, then we will be glad we didn’t spend thousands of dollars on an unused space!
Back to the basement: there are basically four quadrants in the basement: play area (seen above), Organizing CU area (desk, supplies, etc), an extra bed and nightstands, and the storage area. The play area was, of course, the easiest to set up since there are always so many extra toys around the house. We had gotten the mats from a neighbor and they are a great addition to the concrete floors. The paint by the bed (not seen) was leftover from an earlier project. The couch was a remnant from merging households. I did splurge on a $7 desk for my office area (thank you Facebook Marketplace!).
Considering the amount of times our kid will go to the top of the stairs and shake the gate, I think the (slightly more) finished basement is a hit.