Posts and beams present one of the most common challenges of basement renovations. But with a little help and some planning, your Virginia basement will turn out spacious and comfortable in spite of these architectural road blocks. It helps to look at the problem from a certain angle and consider the various solutions available.
Posts in Your Basement?
Depending on the size of your home, posts in the basement may be inevitable. These steel posts often support the main beam of your home, and as such, hold up the main floor and any other floors above that. Your contractor cannot simply knock them out. But with the right design, these posts can virtually disappear and leave your basement living space open and bright.
Choose from these popular ways of dealing with basement posts:
- Invest in a Double Beam – if the span does not exceed the distance allowed by local building code, you may be able to take out the post and replace the beam above with something larger. This process costs a fair amount and requires extensive renovation work. It may reduce the number of posts in larger basements or completely eliminate the posts in smaller homes, but you should weigh the value of this investment carefully before jumping in.
- Minimize the Post – using color to “paint out” the steel post, this method basically leaves the posts as is and blends the narrow towers into the space with matching tones. Use furniture placement to avoid awkward traffic and choose bright, neutral colors for both walls and posts.
- Build the Post Into the Room – incorporate the posts into shelving, half-walls, arches and other basement features to ensure these structural components blend. This won’t work as well with an open concept floor plan, but if you can use the posts as part of the architectural design, they cease to be eyesores and fade into the background of your Virginia basement.
- Decorate the Posts – if you do not like the look of minimized posts (left in their natural state as smooth, steel posts) and cannot build them in, consider decorating your posts. Some homeowners use trim and molding to create an old world feel, while others opt for more modern appeal and use bamboo slats or soft fabrics to enhance the appearance of the basement posts, making them almost stand out as decor pieces.
Low Ceiling Beams in Your Basement?
Posts are often accompanied by low areas on your basement ceiling, commonly known as bulkheads. Duct work, plumbing and framing for the space above create these challenges that could potentially make your basement space darker and less roomy. And it can be tricky or expensive to remove them.
One of the easiest ways to hide low ceiling beams is with color. Use a bright white ceiling paint (matte finish works well) on the entire room and make sure to eliminate lines near the bulkhead. All corners and seams should be a continuous color to allow the lower areas to fade away. A visual trick that will not add height to the area, painting out makes the overall space feel lighter and more open.
Dealing with basement posts and low ceiling beams in your Virginia basement can be challenging. Ask your basement contractor about the easiest, most attractive ways to handle these design issues and be creative. The solution may be cheaper and more appealing than you think.