As I’ve mentioned before, we have a smaller home and only one room in the basement is finished, and that is where my craft room and office “storage” is housed. The rest of the basement is one big storage place, which happens to include the laundry area, under-stair storage, two walk-in closets, and additional shelving behind sliding doors. We therefore have a lot of storage space, but it also winds up being a dumping ground. I regularly go down and organize and clean, but within a month things get dumped out of place and in no time the basement’s a disaster again. My husband’s solution is to get rid of my stuff, but a hoarder I am not and my “stuff” consists mostly of daycare toys (I rotate toys regularly and the extras are stored downstairs), holiday decorations, off-season clothes, and other items that we need to keep but don’t necessarily get into regularly. I also usually have a stack of bins and boxes for our annual garage sale, where I continually get rid of things. I’m pretty good about getting rid of what I don’t use.
Here’s where I get real with you. As much as it pains me to do it, in order to demonstrate what I’m talking about, this is a photo of my basement about a month ago. (Yes, even MY spaces can look like this.)
|The result of running downstairs and dropping something close to where it needs to go, but not quite in the right place.|
|I was storing boxes for the daycare kids to play with so that took up a fair amount of floor space. The less I can walk around, the more likely I am to put things where they go.|
|Even Remi is ashamed.|
|Nightstands that don’t fit in our bedroom. Currently used for extra bed linens. The stuff on top includes extra pillows, blankets,outdoor cushions, and a quilt set I bought at an Estate Sale.|
Sadly this is only part of the problem, but since the laundry space is the most used of all the basement spaces, it was a great place to start. It’s also the easiest to get tidied up, which helps motivate me to tackle the rest of the basement.
I went into this basement organization a little differently than in the past, trying to focus on what causes this to keep happening. My hope is that if I identify the problems (other than Brad’s “too much stuff” theory), then I can come up with solutions that will stick. Here are some issues I identified:
1) While there is a lot of “stuff”, most of it is necessary. Having a daycare means having a supply of toys to pull from so that I can regularly rotate and keep things fresh and fun for the kids. As long as I’m doing daycare, toy storage will be a storage issue. Smaller toys are already in labeled bins on shelves, while larger things (kitchen, workshop, Barbie house, etc.) are kept elsewhere in the basement. Besides the quantity of toys, a big cause of the mess is that when I swap toys (often when kids are at my house since I don’t have a lot of extra free time), I wind up running downstairs quick, grabbing what I want, and taking the items we’re done with back down and dropping them to take care of “later”. I can’t spend a lot of time downstairs away from the kids (I’m sure my daycare parents will appreciate that I don’t leave their children unsupervised!), so I don’t take the time to put things away immediately. So one issue I need to address is easier access to get the toys and put them away. (This is for a later post.)
2) Garage sale items are kept in bins and boxes as much as possible, but as spring/summer nears and the pile gets bigger and bigger, I run out of boxes and bins and when in a rush, stuff gets tossed in the general vicinity of the garage sale “pile”. It doesn’t take long before it’s difficult to tell where the garage sale pile ends and the toy storage begins! I need to get the garage sale stuff away from the toy storage area, and make sure that there are plenty of bins/boxes and that they, too, are easily accessible to add items to. (Also a post for another day.)
3) One of the biggest problems overall, I’d say, is that there isn’t enough floor space for everything, and not all things can be put in a stackable bin. Added shelving will go a long way to helping out this situation (though we also don’t want to invest in a ton of shelves because at some point we’d like to finish the basement).
4) My husband has his own stuff…and since I don’t see a reason for a lot of it, I could easily justify getting rid of quite a bit. However, since a lot of the house is decorated in my style and includes my things (though I’d argue that the stuff is for our home and my job(s), I don’t push the issue of him parting with much. Not.An.Option. (Poo.)
4) We need a bigger house. I say that knowing that with only a family of three we should really be able to make this space work, and since I pride myself on being someone who can creatively make use of small spaces, I know I can come up with solutions. Regardless, moving is not a plan for the near future, and since we had to go to some lengths to prepare our home for having a licensed daycare, we won’t likely consider moving while I am doing daycare. (And once I’m done with daycare, there will be less stuff…so I’m not going to entertain ideas of moving at this point.)
With those things identified, I started out with the laundry area by adding inexpensive shelving that was on sale this week at our local home improvement store for $20. While I would have preferred that the shelving match what was already there (metal and the same height), these worked well. The window to the crawl space is just above the height of the new shelves, and they’re light enough that if we need to move them to access the crawl space, it won’t be a big deal to do so.
This became the storage for things like extra paper products, the dog’s things, vacuum filters, the hand-held vacuum (the base is in the photo, still need to bring the vacuum from upstairs), a mini-fan and laundry items.
Once the purpose for this shelf was determined, I decided the existing metal shelf would primarily be a place for my organizational items like baskets, bins, boxes for DIY storage, and other containers. First I wanted to cover the not-so-attractive shelves. There was already non-adhesive shelf liner on there, but I decided to use one of my adhesive varieties and bring it over the front of each shelf. While I wanted to add some fun color to this space, the reality is that it’s an unfinished concrete block room that I currently have no intention of “prettying up”, so I chose to use shelf liner that I wasn’t as in love with. It still added a little brightness and more importantly, covered up the nasty rust spots on a couple of the shelves.
Once the shelves were lined I moved on to my favorite part: Putting things away! It didn’t take long to fill the shelves…
|I can see floor!!!|