Taming the basement is not always easy.

Basement blues: Taking spring cleaning downstairs

by Jenny

Last week, our friend Ronique Gibson kicked off our spring cleaning series when she wrote about the best ways to organize bedroom closets.

Ronique had some great advice — my personal favorite was the elimination of old, extra, or beat-up hangers. Your closet looks better, your clothes hang more nicely, and you savor the extra space when you toss those crummy hangers from the dry cleaners or the mismatched, barely-usable hangers you’ve had since you were in short pants.

This week, we continue our look at spring cleaning with a trip to what is sometimes the most cluttered room in your home: your basement.

Spring organization chores: Rethinking the basement

The basement can be a great space for storage, laundry, or even family fun — unless it’s a frightening collection of cardboard and cobwebs. Since the basement is often your largest storage area in the home, it’s easy to stash things down there that you think you’ll use one day…and then don’t.


How do you rethink the basement? Let’s consider some simple strategies.

Decide on Dedicated Areas. To make your basement a high-functioning space, you first must decide how to use it. Do you envision a workshop? A playroom? Storage? Most likely, it’s a mix of all of all three.

The answer, then, is simple — dedicate certain areas of the basement for each activity. Professional organizer Alejandra Costello (who somewhat famously hosts a home organizing series on YouTube) suggests using painter’s tape on the basement floor to visually map out the areas.

Shelving is key. Floor storage is not always a great option in subterranean conditions, where water can be a heartless foe. When storing your possessions in a basement, shelving is key.

Make sure to clearly label or use transparent storage bins to identify what’s what. Removing and returning boxes to shelves can be a triceps-burning nuisance.

Keep rarely used items, like holiday decorations or camping gear, on higher shelves (or, better yet, in self storage off-premises. It’s just taking up much-needed space for much of the year).

Keep anything you don’t want to risk getting damp — books, clothing, and photographs — out of the basement completely. Again, consider a storage unit (preferably climate-controlled for these types of items) for these potentially irreplaceable possessions.

The laundry life. While it might be a pain to drag your laundry up and down the stairs, basement laundry rooms are often a necessity in a space-challenged home.

If that’s the case, own it. Spruce up the basement laundry space with an area rug and lamp. If you plan on folding your laundry in the basement, consider adding a pouf (the ottoman’s casual cousin) and small table to your laundry space. Keep your detergent, dryer sheets, dryel bags, and more in an arms reach with some decorative shelves.

Potential playroom? A basement playroom is ideal for messy activities like painting, glue-ing, and building forts. For a playroom space, purchase an inexpensive area rug (you can find great deals on carpet remnants). You can add an old sheet as a coverup if your kids want to paint. A used couch, a ping-pong table, or shelves for board games and a game-friendly table can also be cool additions.

The basement can be a dangerous place, too — so plan the playroom accordingly. Make sure this space is out of the way from the sump pump, utility boxes, and other hazards. Use colorful bins to store toys for each child or activity.

Workshop wonderwall. Keep your tools organized with a pegboard. This can be purchased from any home improvement store. Use S-hooks to hang anything from pliers to work gloves.

For bonus organization points, paint sections on the pegboard by type of tool, or even outline each tool so you can easily find it’s spot.

It’s much easier to stay organized once you get on track, so avoid the old mistakes. Try to not let to let your stuff pile up. Be organized, utilize self storage if needed, and make your basement a cool place to be.

Header photo from Flickr / pnoeric.
Body photo from Flickr / uberculture.


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