There's one basement feature that women in particular almost always seem to notice and comment on first.
The art niche. Women go absolutely bananas for a framed out hole in the wall that's just for art. And I think I know why.
Women see an art niche as a signal that everything is ok. They instantly make a logical conclusion that if someone had the time and foresight to build a special spot, just for art, then all of the other stuff must be rock solid.
Food gathering, fire making, fighting off saber-tooth tigers, these are apparently taken care of. This dude has got things so under control that he's spending time drawing little fluffy clouds and animals on the walls of the cave.
There's one component of my art niche that I think really sets it off. This small detail is really the "cherry on top". I'll touch on that at the end of the post because I want to start with the basics.
Basement Art Niche Placement
Where you place your art niche is important. It will look really awkward in the wrong spot. Remember, it's art. You want people to look at it.
The end of a hallway is usually a good spot. Or, like my basement, in the line of sight as you come into the basement.
You also want to visually "frame it" within the wall space. You don't want a small art niche on a huge expanse of wall. It should look like it jives with the other dimensions of it's space.
You want the art to be just below eye level of an average height person. I'm 6'3 (taller than average) so I tend to put things up to high.
A good rule is that the base of the art niche should be 48" off the ground.
Since the light switch is near the basement entrance the light from the art niche serves double duty. It illuminates the hallway just enough to guide your way without having to turn on the main hallway lights.
Framing an Art Niche
When framing for an art niche you just need to add a few extra supports to act as anchors for holding the top, bottom and side of the art niche box. I set mine about six inches deep. This way I have the option to display a small object or a framed piece of art. If you go to shallow then I think the trim around the niche starts to dominate to much.
Trimming an Art Niche
You must, must, must trim out your art niche. I went with something a bit more elaborate on the corners. I thought it looked better and it was easier for me than getting the miter cuts just right. Remember, people are going to be really looking at this close up so you want your finish work to be dead on.
Lighting Your Art Niche
This is the cherry on top. I highly recommend that you install a small spot light in your art niche. Yes, it's more work, but this is what really makes it pop. Besides, you know how to do your own electrical now right….??? So this is no big deal and might cost you $30 for the light and the wire.
Building a totally function-less feature like an art niche can be a major factor in making your basement look more like your house and less like… a basement.
Plus, your wife, her friends, your sister, mother, grandma will all love it and tell you how awesome you are. Even if what they're really saying is, great job on fighting off that saber-toothed tiger.
Cheers - Jason