With a level, smooth surface you also have tons of other flooring options, based on your decorative scheme and your budget. A relatively inexpensive and easy option is carpet, with a carpet pad beneath it for added comfort and to keep your feet warmer in winter. Peel and stick vinyl tiles are another option, and they come in various styles, colors, and price ranges for any budget.
When it comes to basement remodels, the most costly way is to start with bare bones. If all you have is concrete walls and floors, you need to add framing, electrical, plumbing, flooring and trim. Basement finishing in a newer home that already has plumbing and electrical roughed in, a watertight foundation and some insulation installed—but no final finishes (like drywall or paint or carpet)—usually costs less than remodeling an already finished basement. This is because when you already have a finished basement, the pros will need to do demolition at the beginning of the project, which can add $500–$1,500 to overall costs.
Bedrooms – A common strategy is to set up a couple of extra bedrooms in the basement for guests. This is especially beneficial for families that love to entertain on a regular basis. You can easily have guests stay over without disrupting the family space above. Basement bedrooms can also come in handy if you have older kids that cannot share bedrooms any more. Plus, you could also add a small kitchenette and bathroom for convenience.
Failure to obtain proper permits can result removing (demo-ing) any current finishing work or remodeling already installed. You could also face fines. A "stop work order" may be issued, which usually causes double the fees when you do, eventually, apply for the permit(s). If you have to file an insurance claim and can't produce any permits, the insurance company may deny the claim. Finishing a basement without permits also can affect the home's resale value.
But the brilliant trick she employed to disguise the too-low ceiling was to paint the walls and ceiling the same color (Farrow & Ball, Elephant's Breath). Painting the ceiling white and the walls a different color would have created a horizontal line. The eye would use this line to establish the height of the ceiling. Instead, walls and ceiling blur together, making the ceiling look higher than it really is.
If time is critical, consider a basement finishing kit. A finishing kit has insulated wall panels, and some include a walkable flooring surface and ceiling material for DIY installation. Depending on the size of your basement, these kits can be installed in a weekend. However, the floor won't be carpeted, the walls won't be painted, and there will be no electrical or plumbing. Other features such as doors, trim work, and more also need to be added.
Another choice is to apply a stucco surface. Stucco is inexpensive, comes in a few different earth tone colors, and makes a durable an attractive surface. Applying it requires some skill, however, so you may need to pay a masonry contractor to stucco your walls. Otherwise if you mix or apply it incorrectly the surface could crack and deteriorate over time.
Since this basement is not entirely underground - it includes a walk-out entrance on one side -- new egress windows bring natural light into the basement. A simple Roman shade in fun fabric softens the space and brings all the colors of the room together. Egress windows provide an emergency exit; most building codes require one in every bedroom and in habitable basements. Adding one will likely increase the value of a home, as it provides safety, natural light, and increased airflow.