Skip to Content

10+ EPIC Exposed Basement Ceiling Ideas

Sharing is caring!

Last Updated on May 3, 2023 by lindseymahoney

Updating our unfinished basement has added so much more function (and value) to our home! While I decided to paint our exposed basement ceiling black, there are lots of basement ceiling ideas I considered, and I want to share them with all of you!

10+ AWESOME Exposed Basement Ceiling Ideas | Building Bluebird

First, I thought it would be fun to share our first basement makeover projects in our Denver homes. Below is the basement of our first home.

Basement makeover

While this space isn’t unfinished, this was our first experience with a basement makeover. We painted the walls, swapped light fixtures, and installed the carpeting ourselves.

Basement playroom makeover

In our second home, again, we were lucky to have another basement that was finished and usable. We painted the walls and installed built-in cabinets to store our toddler’s toys.

Basement bedroom makeover | Building Bluebird

Our third home had another basement where half of the space was finished and the other half was unfinished.

With our second child on the way, we planned to create a true guest bedroom and bathroom for our au pair to live in. We built walls for a bedroom, installed an egress window, and built a full guest bathroom suite.

Now that I have sufficiently walked down DIY memory lane, let’s move on to exposed basement ceiling ideas for unfinished basements!

10+ Awesome Exposed Basement Ceiling Ideas

[Affiliate links may be included in this post, thanks for supporting Building Bluebird!]

1 | Clean Black Exposed Basement Ceiling

Our fourth home (and current family home in Toledo, Ohio) has a large unfinished basement (1,400 SF).

I decided to renovate the basement after our family had been cooped up in the house for 8 months when the pandemic began.

10+ AWESOME Exposed Basement Ceiling Ideas | Building Bluebird
Basement before

We needed a place for the kids to run around and our basement was dirty and uninviting.

Turning the basement into a fully finished space was definitely not in our budget, so we tackled multiple DIY projects that added tons of function, value, and beauty to the basement.

10+ AWESOME Exposed Basement Ceiling Ideas | Building Bluebird
Basement after

For the ceiling, we hired electricians to install can lights, and then I spent a few days spraying all of the joists black. I still can’t get over how good it looks!

The black ceiling with the white walls and painted concrete almost has the atmosphere of an art gallery. Except in this art gallery, there is nothing expensive to be broken and kids can run around with food and drinks!

2 | Historic Unfinished Basement Makeover

Source | Beginning in the Middle

The older the house, the creepier the basement. I cannot get over Catherine and Bryan’s laundry room makeover at their Columbus Airbnb!

The raw wood, exposed stone, and cement walls give this once-scary basement a natural and soothing vibe. They imbraced all of the white pipes around the ceiling and sprayed the joists white to match.

3 | Unfinished Basement Laundry Room

Source | Cynthia Zamaria

I discovered Cynthia’s account last year during the One Room Challenge and have been a mega fan ever since.

She updated her basement laundry room during another ORC and it turned out beautifully.

The white exposed basement ceiling joists and clean white walls just feel right for a laundry room in the basement.

4 | Au Naturale Exposed Basement Ceiling

10+ AWESOME Exposed Basement Ceiling Ideas | Building Bluebird

Sometimes exposed basement ceiling joists look beautiful without any paint at all! My good friend, Jeff, updated this unfinished basement at one of his rental properties and it is so welcoming!

10+ AWESOME Exposed Basement Ceiling Ideas | Building Bluebird

He cleaned out all of the dust and cobwebs between the joists, removed unnecessary wiring, and installed bright lights.

I am convinced that 90% of making an unfinished basement feel livable is by giving it a deep cleaning and installing lights on a switch. Nobody wants to hang out in a basement with pull-chain lights!

This is a great option for a basement with low ceilings.

*Take a tour of the prettiest Airbnb in Toledo, Ohio that Jeff designed and renovated.

5 | Beadboard Drop Ceiling

Source | Jenny Komenda Blog

If you prefer to hide your exposed basement ceiling for aesthetics or to add a sound barrier, there are lots of options to create a modern look!

Jenny Komenda cut beadboard panels to replace the dated drop ceiling at her office and it looks incredible!

6 | Modern Take on a Drop Ceiling

Source | Clark + Aldine

Danielle and Michael of Clark + Aldine put their own spin on a modern drop ceiling at their office by adding plywood.

The wood panels really warm up this office and add interest to a surprising area of the room – the ceiling!

7 | Unique Plywood Ceiling

Source | Woodshop Diaries

Shara, from Woodshop Diaries, shares how to create this awesome plywood ceiling that would look great in a basement!

8 | Shiplap and Floor Joists Ceiling

Source | Liz Marie Blog

Liz from Liz Marie Blog installed shiplap planks between the ceiling joists for a rustic, farmhouse look. This is another great basement ceiling idea that can be replicated.

9 | Exposed Black Ceiling in a Basement Office

Source | Unskinny Boppy

Another incredible black exposed ceiling in this basement office makeover by Beth from the Unskinny Boppy! The picture gallery and hanging water skis are so fun.

I love the hanging lights and personal touches of this room.

10 | Cool Basement Playroom

Source | Old Salt Farm

I love this bright and welcoming basement play area I found on the Old Salt Farm blog.

The industrial lights look so good with the exposed ductwork and joists painted white.

12 | Clean and Organized Storage

Source | A Beautiful Mess

What a dream to have such a clean and organized space in an unfinished basement!

Elsie’s basement is definitely a goal for the storage area in our basement. One day it will be as pretty as this!

Instead of fully renovating your unfinished basement, consider a few budget-friendly projects like the exposed basement ceiling ideas I shared today. Good luck!

More Budget-Friendly Projects You Will Love

Jennifer Laura

Tuesday 20th of April 2021

I love all of these basement makeovers- basements are just not really a thing in Texas, due to it not freezing much here our building codes don't require homes being built that low, but I'm so jealous- such amazing bonus spaces!


Wednesday 15th of March 2023

@lindseymahoney, Exactly, we just got a house with unfinished basement. My hands are itching to finish it so the house would be bigger. Extra space! Our BFFs live next door, so my husband is joking to even connect our homes via basement tunnel :)


Friday 30th of April 2021

I totally agree! I feel like every home in the midwest has a basement and if its done right, it doubles the square footage of livable space.