Basements are notorious for low ceilings or unattractive drop ceilings, so why not explore unusual or alternate ways to make this area useful, more appealing -- or even a focal point?

Get Glowing

A dark basement benefits from almost any type of light it can get -- natural or not -- so brighten the ceiling with glow-in-the-dark paint. Roll on a few coats, and remember that with this medium, it takes light to make light, so include an upward-facing lamp or two to charge the luminous pigment.

Drop Ceilings That Pop

You seldom -- maybe never -- hear someone bragging about their basement's drop ceiling. A tin ceiling, on the other hand, is something to gloat about. An alternative to replacing the panels with the real thing is to give them a basement-friendly, light-bouncing metallic .

Step 1

Take down the panels.

Step 2

Number the backs with a marker so that you can return them to their original location -- edge panels may be sized differently from the rest.

Step 3

Give the panels a few light coats with a paint roller or sprayer to achieve good results.

Step 4

Use a roller to paint the suspension bars or tracks.

Unusual Storage Ideas

Make the most of rafters in an unfinished basement:

  • Screw wire shelving to rafters for clear bins, forming easy-to-see storage.
  • Tuck drawers between them, using cleats to keep them up, and hinges or pivots to bring them down.
  • Strap them with plank shelving or 12-inch-wide plywood strips for an overhead library or a place for rattan baskets to neatly stash winter clothes, summer toys or photo albums.
  • Suspend concrete-form tubes for storing awkwardly long items -- pipe, trim, pool noodles -- using pipe strapping.

Unconventional Illumination

Many homeowners install pot lights or fluorescent lighting in a basement, and that's the problem. Show off your unusual ceiling with creative lights, such as stadium-style lighting shown on the DIY Network's website. Another idea to bring the eye upward is with large DIY pendants, such as lights made from turbine roof vents.