By guest blogger, Jon Labelle
Did you know that the average person wastes one year of their life looking for misplaced items in their home? While many of us face problems controlling clutter in our living spaces, it’s difficult to find the time and motivation to organize. To further complicate things, if you have a basement, all of your seldom-used or discarded items seem to accumulate there until you run out of room or it’s time to move.
Home management and organizing services such as ClutterBGone indicate that most Canadian families would like to reduce the chaos in their lives by organizing but often lack the space, planning capabilities, time to do the job or the organizational tools to make a change. Success in overcoming your clutter depends on accomplishing two very important things: establishing your organizational goals and changing your habits.
- De-clutter and Discard
If you’re like most homeowners, the basement is a convenient place to stash those rarely used or miscellaneous items. As they’re out of sight, it’s easy to forget about them until things begin to pile up or you try to find something you’re sure is “down there somewhere.” The first step in organizing is to sort through and remove any trash or broken items. Once a garbage bag is full, take it out of the basement to your trash receptacle. After a few bags are gone, you’ll have more space to move around and see what’s left. Next, sort through the remaining items looking for anything you can sell or donate to charity. You’ll be amazed at how much you can make by holding a garage sale or selling your unwanted items online. Now, you should have a manageable pile that you can store for easy access later.
- Devise a Plan for Use
Now that you’ve got a better idea of what must stay in the basement, you’ll want to come up with a usage plan for your space. Typically, your basement is used for utility, storage and living areas. Each section may need separate sub-sections to accommodate your personal situation.
Utility – Your household equipment falls into this category and includes your furnace, water heater, sump pump, circuit breaker box, laundry tray and possibly washer and dryer. Whether these items are located in one or several spots in your basement, always make sure there is a clear path for easy access in the case of emergency. Rolling carts or shelves can be used for small storage areas and moved out of the way if necessary. Make sure to keep flammable items away from the furnace and hot water heater to keep your family safe.
Storage – This area will hold the majority of items you just sorted through, so you’ll need to further categorize like items, such as tools, holiday decorations, sports equipment, camping or fishing equipment, food/canned goods, paper supplies, seasonal clothing, extra linens, painting supplies, excess furniture, etc. The key here is to keep similar items together, so you’ll stay organized (put items back in their new location after use) and know just where to look months from now.
Living Space – You may already have a finished area in your basement, or you may just be clearing a space for future use. In either case, assigning a specific use for each area will keep it chaos-free. If you’re handy, set up a workshop space to keep tools within easy reach. Just think about how much time and money you’ll save by doing household projects yourself.
If you have younger children, this newfound space can be the perfect location for a playroom. Just imagine all the time you’ll save putting toys away every day. With plenty of room for a large toy bin or shelving, the kids can clean up quickly and easily, freeing you up for more important family time.
- Arrange for Accessibility
Now that you’ve sorted through the clutter and established a designated area for storage, you’ll need to make sure you have access to all the items you keep there. Keeping similar items together and being able to get at them are key to keeping the space organized. If you have to rummage through boxes or unload a shelf each time you want to use that oversized roasting pan, the area will soon return to disarray.
To keep the place organized, don’t pile containers too high or deep. If it’s too physically demanding to retrieve items every time you head downstairs, you’ll likely avoid the task. Also, make sure you put items you use most frequently in the front or on top.
- Use Proper Storage Solutions
Remember that your basement can be damp and at risk for wall cracks or flooding. It’s critical that you choose the best storage solutions to protect your belongings. There are a number of items that don’t store well in damp or humid places, so take care with papers, books, photos, fabric and cardboard boxes.
The waterproofing experts at Royal Work Corp. recommend using a dehumidifier to remove dampness from the air, make sure your sump pump is working properly and consider adding a battery back-up unit for extra protection.
Plastic storage totes are an excellent choice to keep valuables dry and safe from bugs and rodents. Remove cardboard boxes from the area. Cardboard absorbs moisture and can provide an excellent food source for mold and mildew to grow. Even a small flood will compromise your belongings if stored in a cardboard box.
Keep everything a few inches off the floor. Invest in some freestanding or hanging storage shelves. Make sure you can fit two plastic bins side-by-side for maximum capacity. Use smaller bins for flat, lightweight items that can be easily retrieved from a top shelf without risking injury.
Finally, label and inventory everything. If possible, identify the contents of the container on all sides. That way, you’ll always be able to quickly locate what you need.
Organizing your basement makes a lot of sense. You’ll save time searching for buried items, you’ll save money by not buying duplicates, you’ll earn money by selling unused items, and you’ll gain peace of mind by finally taking back control. It’s time to get started today!
Jon Labelle is an expert in the field of home improvement and remodeling, with extensive knowledge and many years of experience. For more tips related to home renovation and remodeling follow Jon on Twitter.
For more tips on finishing, waterproofing and organizing your basement check out Royal Work Corp. Waterproofing.