There are two ways to make a small basement feel much larger: A) hang up a framed mirror and b) pay attention to the lighting in the room. To make a space feel bigger with lighting, you want to have as much ceiling lighting as possible and try to light up all of the corners (Design Guide: Basement Lighting Ideas and Options).
That space under the stairs, the nook, can be used for a number of great small basement ideas and spaces. There are people who have built a home office, playroom, bathroom, and even put a bed in there. A simple way of using that space is to turn it into a storage area by hanging shelves. For ideas and photos on way to use this space have a look at our post here: The Space Under The Stairs: Ideas and Designs.
Other storage design ideas for a small sized basement or half basement include putting baskets into the overhead rafters (pictured) or have built in cabinets made (In The Basement: Storage and Organization Ideas).
One way to save space in a small basement is to avoid having internal walls to separate different areas. An alternative is to use railings and curtains. So for example, if you want to have gym equipment down there, a laundry room or a small home office, along with a family room, then you can put curtains up that hideaway the gym equipment, washing machine, or home office when it is not in use. This will then leave you with a nice and cozy family space. 1/2/3/4/5
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