8. Door Knobs
Especially if your basement has closet doors and multiple rooms, changing the old door knobs is undoubtedly a noticeable update. Murphy shares these recommendations when it comes to replacing door knobs:
• Using a screwdriver, remove the existing door hardware. This includes the knob or lever, as well as the latch and strike plate
• Your new strike plate should be the same shape as your old strike plate. For example, if your old strike plate had rounded or square edges, your new one should be the same shape to fit perfectly into the space
• Next, select the appropriate latch face. Also, make sure the slope of the latch is in line with the way the door closes -- then tighten the latch into place.
• Insert the new knob or lever through the latch and connect it to the inside handle. Avoid a common mistake and make sure the keyhole is on the outside of the door, if your hardware includes one. Tighten into place.
9. Installing a Dimmer Switch
Instead of having your basement lights turn on and off, installing a dimmer switch makes for a more relaxing atmosphere. While this is a project suited for the more experienced DIYers, Paul Lobo, vice president of retail sales at Lutron Electronics offers these tips for installing a dimmer switch:
• Turn the power OFF at your circuit breaker or remove the fuse
• Remove the wallplate and switch mounting screws from the wallbox in which you want to add the dimmer, leaving all wires attached. Carefully remove the switch from wall
• Next, identify which type of circuit you have: Either a single-pole or 3-way circuit. Below are key identifiers for each wallplate.
Single pole: Insulated wires connected to two screws of the same color. Replace with a Single-Pole dimmer.
3-Way Wiring: Insulated wires connected to three screws. One of these wires is connected to a screw of a different-color (not green) or labeled "common." You should mark or tag this wire to identify it when wiring. Replace with a 3-Way dimmer.
• When disconnecting the wires from the switch, if your wall switch has two wires attached to the same screw, tape these two wires together before disconnecting.
• Remove the wallplate (if there is one) from the switch. Depending on the type of circuit you have, here are some wiring instructions for the two types of circuits:
Single pole: Connect the green dimmer ground wire to the bare copper or green ground wire in the wallbox. Connect one of the black dimmer wires to either of the wires removed from the switch. Connect the remaining black dimmer wire to the other wire removed from the switch.
3-Way Wiring: Connect the green dimmer ground wire to the bare copper or green ground wire in the wallbox. Connect the black dimmer wire to the wire removed from the different-colored screw on the switch (marked or tagged wire) as referenced in the previous step. Remove the tag from wire. Connect one of the red dimmer wires to either of the remaining wires removed from the switch. Connect the remaining red dimmer wire to the remaining wire removed from the switch.
• Finally, form the wires carefully into the wallbox, mount and align dimmer -- and install the wallplate
And anytime you're dealing with a project that involves electrical wires, if you don't feel up to the challenge, save this one for a professional electrician!
10. Bookshelf Unit
Stocking your basement with enough furniture makes for a hefty credit card payment. For creative furniture ideas, we turned to Christopher Lowell, best selling author and Emmy-winning lifestyle authority, who suggests the following steps for building a bookshelf unit:
• Take three bookcases spaced about four feet apart on a single wall. Then take two matching half bookcases (which are shorter in height) and place them between the tall bookcases
• Next, take solid plane hollow core doors or 3/4 inch plywood (from your local hardware store) and attach this to the top of each half bookcase
• Paint the tops a complementary color to the bookcases or the same color as the wall. This will create a usable working surface with enough overhand to be used also as a desk for computers or TVs.
Basements tend to be the nightmare area of the house, especially if unfinished. And while you may need the help of a professional for some of the more intense basement renovation projects, some elbow grease and vision will transform the space into your dream basement, or in the least a liveable space.
--By Scott Gamm