[Window] Well, Why Not?
A basement window well can be a drab and unsightly part of a home - but it doesn't have to be that way!
Window wells are there for a reason and serve a very important purpose in times of emergency. Since they weren't designed with decor, enjoyment or everyday use in mind, here is an idea to "dress up" your window well.
First off, make sure that your window well is secure and not just an easy way to gain access to your home. Secure, clear window well covers should be installed. I would suggest having a service custom fit and install the heavy duty fiberglass version instead of the clear, flimsy bubble type found at some hardware stores. The fiberglass cover will keep unwanted intruders, blowing leaves and curious animals out and they will last a long time. Cotter pins on the interior or basement side of the window can be easily removed for a quick exit in case of emergency.
I decided to make our south window well a place for winter-flowering plants. To prep the window for plant growing, I first removed all vegetation and leaves from the window well and took out about 1-2 inches of the white rocks/gravel that were in the bottom. I then washed and scrubbed the galvanized metal and then painted with a bright white acrylic latex exterior paint. The white paint helps by reflecting more light into the basement. Once the paint had a chance to dry, I added a bag of red lava rocks to the bottom of the window well. (The layer of red rocks also cover up my paint line.) The darker color of the rocks will absorb some of the sun's energy and also provide some color contrast.
I chose cool weather plants like cyclamen, primrose and succulents. A small Christmas cactus was also planted and in just a few years, it has almost taken over the window well and requires regular trimming. The plants still require weekly watering and in the winter months a small grow light is added to the window on a timer just to give them a little extra light (and heat) but overall, it's fairly maintenance-free.
Overall, a small investment of time and money yielded some extra light and some pretty flowers in the basement! Add a comfortable chair (this one is from IKEA) and you have a cozy winter reading niche!