Reader SOS – Family-Friendly Basement

I’m back with another “DIY Playbook, Save our Space”. My plan for this series is to take a reader’s space and (virtually) offer design tips and tricks on how to improve it.

Here are some of my favorite design solutions from this series…

How Do I Spruce Up Our Basement?

Today’s design dilemma comes from Jenna. She moved into a new home earlier this year with her family and is struggling with her new basement. There’s a lot of space (I’m jealous!) and they even have a really cool bar down there. Overall, she needs to get some furniture and decor pieces to make it feel complete. Let’s take a look at the space…

Jenna’s Design Dilemma

basement reader sos

These are photos of the prior owner’s setup (we bought from a friend). We are only keeping their couch and the bar stools.

playroom area
the entertainment area

Any tips on making it look a little more bright and colorful would be wonderful.  The area is a bit dull. 

Bar area in a basement

My style is modern farmhouse and traditional. I like things simple and clean and love neutrals/blues/light leather. Lastly, I am a fan of circular coffee tables since they are baby-safe.

Family-Friendly Basement – The Gameplan

Here’s the layout that Jenna sent over to give you a better feel for the space.

How awesome to have such a large basement that can have multiple purposes – bar, playroom, and cozy area all in one space. My goal with this design plan is to do two things. First, I want to define each area and make each space functional. And second, I want to make sure everything is cohesive. I know those things sound counterintuitive, but I hope you’ll stick with me.

Entertainment Area Plan

  • Add a large area rug
  • Bring in a round leather ottoman, a cozy chair, and a side table
  • Incorporate new pillows, blankets, and lighting
  • Buy media console for under the television

Bar Area Plan

  • Add classic subway tile backsplash
  • Swap hardware for black
  • Style countertops and cabinets

Play Room Area Plan

  • Add a large area rug
  • Incorporate storage, storage, and more storage
  • Bring in a play table for crafts, coloring, etc.
  • Add cozy seating

The Entertainment Area

basement reader sos

Okay, let’s start with the TV area. This is a spot that will be enjoyed by people of all ages, so it needs to work well for everybody. First, we need to define the space and there’s no better way to do that than with a rug. Yes, you can put a rug over carpet. I like this large blue/white one and I would suggest using this carpet tape to keep it in place.

family-friendly basement ideas

Tray // Gray Accent Chair // Floor Lamp // Media Console // TV Area Rug // End Table // Blue Lumbar Pillows // Striped Pillows // Faux Snake Plant // Gray Lamp

I know Jenna likes light leather and she specifically requested a round baby-friendly coffee table. This ottoman from Article would work perfectly. Just add a tray (like this one) on top, to display coffee table books, coasters, and remote controls.

In that same area, I’d add this gray striped chair. It screams “farmhouse” and would add another cozy spot to hang out next to their sectional. I’d then place this floor lamp nearby and this end table. And, I found these awesome pillows that incorporate a bit of the blue, leather, and cream all in one, at a crazy good price! Under the television, they need some storage. I think this is a good place to incorporate some wood for warmth. This one has farmhouse vibes, plus lots of storage underneath.

The Bar Area

Bar area in a basement

Okay, onto the bar area. First of all, how freakin’ cool it is to have a bar area already finished and in your basement! I love it. I would add a backsplash, and since Jenna loves traditional/farmhouse vibes, you can’t go wrong with an inexpensive white subway tile. A backsplash is a great DIY project for newbies and this wouldn’t take too long. (You can follow my tips here.) I’d also recommend removing the backsplash of the countertop, so it looks more custom.

Tips to create a family-friendly basement

White Subway Tile // Black Hardware // Woven Tray // Faux Snake Plant // Decanter Set // Faux Olive Branches // Large Vase // Glassware

Inside the cabinets, Jenna can have a lot of fun styling! Pretty glassware, baskets, vases…what a beautiful spot to have some fun. Oh, and obviously this would be a good spot for any alcohol bottles or wine. (I love a pretty decanter set.) Then, on the countertops, I would style it up with a woven tray, plants (probably faux since they might not get tons of light down here), and a candle.

bar area in the basement

Another quick win would be to swap out the hardware on the cabinets. Right now, I believe it’s chrome. I’d replace it with this black hardware to really bring in those farmhouse vibes.

The Play Area

Okay, now this is where there’s a lot more work to do! First, we will need to define the space with a large rug. Here, I would go with this one from Ruggable. I’ve heard good things about their products and I love that you can toss them in the washing machine – a must with kids. This one brings in the blue that Jenna likes and adds a contemporary vibe.

family-friendly basement, the playroom area

Bookshelves // Playroom Rug // Toy Storage // Art Frame // Kids’ Learning Table // Alphabet Poster // Bear Basket

When it comes to kids’ stuff, storage is key. I’d make that a priority from the start. On the far wall, I’d go with this storage unit that has lots of cabinets and easy access for kids to grab and store toys. Above it, Jenna could add a gallery wall with family photos, kids’ artwork, and other cute items, like this alphabet poster. I’m very intrigued by these frames that make it easy to swap out the artwork from the front. What a cute way to display the endless crafts that kids create at school!

I love the idea of having a table in the middle of the rug for drawing, coloring, and playing. We have one similar to this and it’s fantastic! I think they would have room for four seats and this one is great because the legs are adjustable, so it can go higher as your kids grow!

When it comes to playrooms, I think one component that is often missing is a cozy chair for the caregiver. As a parent, I’m often playing on the floor with the kids, but I also like to have a place to sit back, relax, and watch independent play happen. I like the idea of adding two of these cozy floor chairs. Not only are they nice for a parent, but the kids will love them too. And, bonus points, they tie in that light leather from the other side of the room.

Shop the Look – Family-Friendly Basement

Let’s bring the entire look into one visual with the three individual zones all working together.

tips to create a family-friendly basement

Ottoman // Wood Tray // Gray Accent Chair // Floor Lamp // Media Console // Playroom Rug // TV Area Rug // End Table // Blue Lumbar Pillows // Striped Pillows // White Subway Tile // Black Hardware // Woven Tray // Faux Snake Plant // Decanter Set // Toy Storage // Art Frame // Kids’ Learning Table // Alphabet Poster

Need Help With Your Space?

Need help with your space? Email [email protected] with the subject line “Reader SOS”. Please include photos, dimensions, information about your style, and your budget.


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.