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The drea: a decluttered laundry room in the basement.

5 tips to reclaim the basement

by Ben Kirst

Seven months ago, as the temperature slowly inched out of Frozen Tundra range, I vowed that Spring 2013 would be different. This year was going to be monumental. I was going to successfully complete the chore that was hanging over my head like the sword of Damocles. I was tackling the basement. No talk, just action!

Here we are, two seasons later — nearly winter again — and I haven’t even started yet. I am reminded of my sloth each time I do the laundry downstairs. My basement is a dumping ground, a storage facility for everything that time has forgotten. It is a stain on my otherwise meticulously clean home. This is stressful.

No more excuses. It’s time to stop procrastinating and face the clutter. If you are in a similar situation — it could be any room, really, or even your own unit at the local storage facility (those can get pretty unorganized if you’re not careful) —  read on. Maybe my approach can help you, too.

Reclaiming the basement: A step-by-step plan to reinvigorate the storage facility downstairs

A laundry room can be a good storage facility, too.

1. Game plan. My basement became a mishmash of boxes and loose items because there was no rhyme or reason to the storage plan.  That has to change first. I’m going to devise my basement’s new layout before rearranging the storage spaces. What area is best for holiday decorations? The grill? My stinky soccer spikes and golf clubs? What gets carted off to the storage facility? What stays?

2. Clean it up. The next time I sweep the basement floor will be the first. It feels good to admit the truth! I have to knock down spider webs and wipe away the years’ worth of dust. I may even get out the mop. Hold me back! Pro tip — remember to bring a broom and dustpan to your storage facility next time you pay a visit.

3. Should it stay or should it go? Maybe it’s time to get rid of those old sweaters that look suspiciously like a mouse hi-rise (“mousing” development? Eh?). The lamps sitting idle in the corner are serving no useful purpose — thought I might need them someday and I didn’t. I should drop them off at a consignment store.

It pains me to admit this, but my old baseball cards have been buried in shoe boxes since I was a freshman in high school. They’re not mint — they’re not particularly valuable. Should I toss them, give them away, or…no, I can’t do it. I will compromise and bring them to the storage facility. I can’t just send Tippy Martinez to the trash.

4. Prepare for the flood. My basement has never flooded. I do, however, live in a part of the country where rain and snow aren’t exactly rare. I’ve decided to live like the flood is coming.

I am going to keep the floor clear of cardboard boxes. I’m investing in plastic bins to protect my belongings from potential water damage. I’m going to install additional shelving. My wife and I are even going to take preventive actions against flooding — we’re patching up cracks in the foundation. Anything that shouldn’t be below the flood line is going to the storage facility. If it can’t survive a soaking, it needs to be off the floor or out of the basement.

5. Self storage? Yes sir. We don’t have a tom of extra stuff — we’re not hoarders by any means — but we also have limited storage space in the basement. We have some larger items that we want to keep (I have a cool old chair that I’d like to reupholster, among others) as well as other, seasonal items that really don’t need to be around the house. Why take up prime real estate? Admittedly, I am a little biased, but I know that Uncle Bob’s Self Storage can help me out, so I will pay a visit to their nearest storage facility this weekend. I will also take advantage of Uncle Bob’s free truck rental policy — I don’t want to beat up my Jeep.

With the basement out of the way, maybe the 2014 spring list won’t be so intimidating. The garage should be easy after this project. Maybe I’ll treat it like an athletic competition. The Olympics are every four years, right?

• Neat freak
• Baseball fanatic
• Next great novelist