Planning Your Basement Space #2: Beams and Columns
What needs to be done in planning your Basement living space is identify the fixed items, things that can’t be moved and deciding what to do with them. Previously, we looked at and tried to group the utilities together to free up as much space as possible. Now we need to look at the structural members and see what we can do to incorporate them into the floor plan.
Again, it seems, consideration is not taken for the possibility of finishing off a Basement for living space when placing beams and columns in the Basement. Now you have to deal with these items. Here are a few options that we have found that work well.
These are generally unmovable. They are supporting weight from above.
Solution #1: Box them in and making them look decorative with trim and mouldings. If they fall in the middle of open space, this option helps to make them look like they were a planned part of the design.
Solution #2: Wall them in. Plan your walls to incorporate the column inside of the wall. This option make the column disappear all together.
Solution #3: Design them into the environment of the room. Using columns to frame an entry way into an entertainment area creates a dramatic visual effect. Or placing a Kitchenette or Bar in the area of a column will help to ease the visual impact of the structural member.
These usually must stay. They are spanning openings and they are weight bearing as well.
Solution #1: Use the bottom height of beams to establish soffit heights. These soffits can be used to create visually pleasing coved/coffered ceilings. Coved and coffered ceilings can be great places for lighting fixtures to enhance the lighting scheme of the space.
Solution #2: If ceiling height and design style permits, you can establish a dropped beam pattern across the ceiling of certain spaces to hide the beams.
Solution #3: Again, use the bottom height of the beam to establish your ceiling height, effectively making the beam disappear all together. Just remember, you don’t have to keep the entire ceiling down at the lower height. In fact, varying the ceiling heights is aesthetically pleasing.
Solution #4: Just like columns…wall them in. Plan your walls to line up with the beam. Not always possible, but something to consider.
On a related note, all of the above can be applied to HVAC ductwork as well as plumbing piping, taking into consideration that ducts and piping can be easier to move to a more convenient location.
Next Time… Planning Your Basement Space #3: Developing a Floor Plan
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