Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

We are renovating our basement in two phases. Phase 1 is simply underpinning the basement, replacing all the drains, and building new stairs. The second phase will be finishing the basement (in whatever form that takes).

Because the underpinning involves replacing the drains (and installing new ones), we needed to figure out where these drains would go. So we hired an architect to help us layout the basement. This layout is called programming, and it involves just enough detail to figure out where drains and stairs should go, but not enough to design the rest of the basement. Considering I’m fairly good on the design end (thanks to endless hours on Pinterest and Houzz), we only needed someone to help us layout the space in the most efficient way, not actually pick materials.

We met with our architect and gave her a list of things we wanted to include in the basement. It wasn’t complicated, but we were looking for the most efficient layout that would maximize the space.


The design needed to include:

  • New stairs;
  • A new bathroom (toilet, sink and shower);
  • A bedroom;
  • A living space;
  • A work space (for all my various projects);
  • A laundry space or nook; and
  • A utility space or nook (for our furnace and water heater).


We were inspired by a few basements we found online:


To start the design phase, our architect came and measured the basement.

After a few weeks, we met with her again to go over 3 high-level designs for the space. This was probably the most challenging step. We had three fairly unique designs and we had to figure out what we liked and disliked about those spaces.

We didn’t overly love any of the options, but she convinced us that the third option was the best use of space. I really struggled with this because I couldn’t imagine having closed rooms at the bottom of the stairs. I wanted something that felt airy and open and I didn’t believe the third option would work.

But given that none of the other options were much better, we went with it and I tried to convince myself that it would be ok. I spent hours looking at Pinterest trying to find similar layouts to see how the final design could work.

I didn’t find a lot of examples (which to me was a red flag), but I found a couple that made me comfortable enough to proceed.

The final design looked similar to the concept but slightly more refined.

We still weren’t completely convinced so we asked her to draw out what we thought would be a better design based on some inspiration.

I spent a bit more time refining the design and finally came up with my own configuration of the space. We feel like it’s a much better use of the space and will create a more open feeling.

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