Dressing Up a Window

It's hard to enjoy the view when all you can see is a curtain of corrugated steel, but that's exactly what you'll get in an average basement window well. Changing that dreary scenery may be easier than you think.

For about $130, you can add a view of the seashore, mountains, woodlands, desert or golf course. Scenic Window Wells' WELLliner (above) is a weather-resistant polystyrene liner that slips into a standard window well. When you look out the basement window, you might imagine yourself in any one of 36 postcard-perfect locales. Liners are available in two sizes, and the flexible sheets can be trimmed to fit. A light kit also is available to keep the scene visible when the sun goes down.

If all you want is extra light, check out the MaxLight2 System ($120 to $160), which promises to increase the amount of sunlight in the basement by as much as 10 times. It consists of a flexible well liner that fits inside an existing window well and a reflection panel that is attached to the side of the house. Sunlight striking the reflection panel is bounced onto the well liner and then into the basement.

Bilco's ScapeWEL provides light as well as an emergency exit from the basement. The high-density-polyethylene window well snaps together and sits in an enlarged well. Its two- or three-tiered design creates shelves that can be used for plants — or as steps during an emergency exit from the basement. Available in several sizes, the 48- to 62-in.-high unit projects from the foundation from 41 to 49 in. A ScapeWEL alone costs from $470 to $660, but count on buying a window and paying for a contractor to cut through foundation walls to create an opening large enough to handle it. That will boost installed costs to $1,500 to $2,000

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