Basements often conjure up an image of a damp, dank, dark rooms, but that need not be the case. Finish your basement the right way and you can turn your boring basement into a livable room.

Step One: Paint

The first step to any kind of home renovation is usually paint. This is especially important for basements, as they tend to be dark due to a lack of windows or being at or below ground level. A dark paint or leaving it unpainted obviously contributes to the dark appearance. Paint your basement walls a light, bright color. If you are not fond of white, try a golden yellow or bright pastel green.

Step Two: Lighting

In the same vein as painting, lighting is essential to give a basement a bright, cozy appearance. Some basements have no lighting other than a simple overhead light, which tends to look dull and cold in a large room. Instead, invest in some other lighting fixtures such as standing lamps or wall sconces. More ambient lighting helps create a sense of space and brightness, especially if there is a lack of windows.

Step Three: Mirrors

Another great way to create a sense of space and brighten things up is to strategically place mirrors in the room. You can do this with a standing mirror, or you can get other pieces of furniture with mirrors built in. An example is cabinetry or media shelving. Mirrors reflect light, which helps brighten the room, and they also create a sense of space while filling space. Position mirrors along the darkest side of the basement.

Step Four: Tall Furniture

Similar to the paint and mirror ideas, this is another idea designed to make a basement feel like a more normal room. Basements tend to have lower ceilings, so tall furniture or floor to ceiling drapes for windows have a lengthening effect. Try tall bookshelves or cabinets. Add drapes to the focal window in the room.

Step Five: Area Rugs

If your basement does not have carpet, area rugs are a simple and inexpensive way to add warmth and give the appearance of more space. Even if the basement does have carpet, area rugs can add both ambiance and warmth.

Step Six: Exterior Shutters for Windows

Exterior shutters for windows provide two functions for a livable basement. On the outside, they have a functional and decorative appearance. Window shutters can be used to add an element of safety to a basement by closing over the windows. This can keep out both weather and prowlers.

Treat a basement as any other room that you want to renovate and add elements for both value and functionality.