Thursday, June 9, 2016

Dilemma: Making Sense of the Basement Mess

When I posted a 10 year home tour a few months ago I said I didn't want to show the internet pictures of our basement.  Apparently I've changed my tune since then because here are a whole bunch of pictures of our pretty messy basement.  Although I guess it is very different not wanting to post them in a "look how far we've come!" post (since it might actually look worse) versus this post "here is why our basement needs a lot of work". 

For as much as I feel organized on our main living floors, our basement is unorganized.  Pretty much every part needs some work.  And that's part of the problem.  Our basement is roughly 800 sq feet (the size of our downstairs) and serves a lot of different functions.  It would be very hard to finish our basement, put in real walls, an actual ceiling, etc. So that means a lot of these areas blur into each other and there isn't any real division (besides things like the furnace and water heater).  Also, the basement is about 40% Matt's workspace and my dear husband doesn't share my obsessive need to organize everything (although he is waaaaaaaay better than me when it comes to homemade cards.  Almost to the point I shouldn't try.  His are always 1000% better.)  Regardless, here are some things/thoughts I have in mind/hope to accomplish at some point this year.  Even if just half of these happen we'll have made huge progress.

Starting with the many different functions our basement serves (I don't know how anyone lives without a basement).

1) Food Storage
We have a deep freeze, canning storage, and our extra pantry storage box all down here.  I was semi-recently given more canning jars, a pot, and other supplies which have nowhere to go and are just piled in front of my (at one time) organized shelf.

PLAN: I have a large shelf planned (and designed) that would go all the way to the rafters with space for all the canning supplies, my jars, and some baskets for the pantry things.  I should also have space to move down more of my freezer boxes (or sour cream containers turned freezer boxes) since they are currently taking over a cupboard in the kitchen.  (Much worse than pictured here.)  I also have plans for a produce bin to store potatoes and onions.  Now it's just getting Matt enough time to make those!

2) Laundry
Basement laundry isn't ideal but I don't know where else these could go in the house.  We added a laundry chute when we were doing the bathroom and it's amazing.  I wish we had one all the way from upstairs but even just getting the bathroom laundry down without carrying it is pretty amazing.  That's been the biggest improvement to our laundry situation in 10 years and there really isn't much else we can do.

PLAN: Pretty it up somehow.  I'm not a fan of those curtains and might finally be changing them.  I saw some pictures somewhere of a basement laundry corner that was much prettier than this so I am toying with the idea of painting the corner a color (aqua?) to kinda mark it off and maybe help hide some of the wall dirt.  Or even just fresh white paint.  Something different.  But really, this is pretty functional and is far from the biggest problem down here.

3) Workout Area

My father-in-law found us an exercise bike for super cheap (like less than $5 cheap) at an auction years ago which is what necessitated a workout portion of the basement.  Matt made the green/black table (it was originally supposed to be for his computer rebuild work) and when we bought a new tv for upstairs our original one moved down here.  Matt built a computer from spare parts (he's so handy) so we can stream Netflix or watch DVDs on it.  I don't ride the bike much anymore since I've been doing the 30 Day Shred but a twisting or spraining my ankle this morning might put me back on it for a few days (there is A LOT of jumping in the 30 Day Shred).  Our DVD stand has been in the basement for over two years now, ever since little Luke discovered how "fun" it was to pull them off the shelf.  Matt since ripped them all to a hard drive (which is legal since we still own the DVDs) but I don't mind the shelf so much because it makes it a little homier down there. 

PLAN: This is one of the best parts of the basement.  The stand could use a little cleaning up/organizing but it all functions pretty well.  Although I've been thinking for years about hanging up old Hawaii calendar pictures (which have been piled on top of this table for 3 years) on the white board behind the tv (which is there to keep the plaster chunks which sometime fall off the stairs from messing up the tv).  I should really get on that.

4) Sewing

I really like that I have a dedicated sewing area that doesn't require moving and storing a sewing machine and that is also out of the way.  I do not like that it's in the basement (I hate sewing down there when it's nice and sunny outside!  Not enough natural light down there!).  BUT...the only other place it could be is in Matt's office where I wouldn't have it set-up in front a TV and there is also not great light in there so I'll take what I can get.  These pictures are a few weeks old so those boxes in front of my sewing machine (and covered with burb cloths) have been gifted.  The 20+ year old paper mache hot air balloon remains. 

PLAN: I, obviously, really used those gifted boxes for stacking/and storing what I was working on and I'd like something to take the place.  I'm thinking maybe the shelf that currently has canning jars on it, once the new one is made.  This could work with the shelving unit I'm planning for my upstairs craft space, for storing in process projects, fabric, and supplies.  Not exactly sure how the space would work but it's a nice (free) possibility. 

5) Storage

I don't know where people without a basement store all this stuff.  These are mostly our sentimental boxes.  The cardboard on the far end are mostly Matt's (besides the top paper box which are favorite childhood books of mine and the inflatable jet ski box on the top which is obviously Luke's, and has since been inflated...for riding at home.)  The middle stack is mostly my sentimental boxes which is a HUGE improvement over where I was 5 years ago.  Just 3 boxes for the first 22 years of my life.  The other boxes are mostly toys: my Playmobil sets, my Lego sets, a $5 box of Legos (!!!!) we bought at a garage sale (best find EVER), and my stuffed animals and Barbies (ok, so the "just three sentimental boxes" was a little bit of a stretch).  There are also a tub of my extra fabric (like the old sheet I used for these, not so much purchased fabric), a tub of extra "lake" stuff (Matt's snorkel stuff, some inflatable rafts that don't seem to get used so I'm not sure why we have them), and our tub of stuff we leave at the lake (which is now at the lake for the summer).  I should really pare down my boxes a little more but since I just did that last year I'll probably wait a few before attempting again.  But mostly, we've made a lot of progress here. 

PLAN: Sort through my boxes again.  Consolidate?  Really, this is much better than a few years ago.

6) Garage Sale Pile

Ahhhh...the always being added to garage sale pile.  This year my sisters came with all their stuff already sorted and I had done mine like this months ago which made our set-up SO. MUCH. EASIER.  Also, not having the pile take over the basement is a HUGE improvement.  I sort stuff as I purge and it makes it easy to pull out the right stuff to sell at Half Priced Books or Once Upon a Child or if my sister requests baby toys for her mission trip to Haiti.  Matt built this shelf over the winter with mostly scrap wood and it's been SO. HELPFUL. 

PLAN: Have a garage sale and get rid of all of this.  Oh wait, we did that a week ago!  There is still one box labeled "Fabric" which is for (hopefully) when our church does a fabric/rubber collection.  They've had them twice before and will take anything, even things you can't/won't donate to Goodwill, for getting to African women (I believe in Kenya) where they use the fibers to make fabric and their own clothes.  At least that's how I've understood it and I am more than happy to save and donate all sort of things.  I just wish they collected more regularly.  But other than that, this shelf is pretty empty at the moment...besides the few things I've started collecting for the next sale. Oops.  I made it a whole two days...

7) Matt's workbench/computer fixing

I honestly don't even know what this is.  Besides the chair.  Matt pulled that out of a dumpster when helping me move out of a dorm 13 years ago and used it for years as his main computer chair.  And it still gets some use in the basement.  For free. 

Matt and I both wish we could easily build walls around his workshop areas so he could make a mess and I would never have to see it.  Our low ceilings and weird walls make that pretty hard though.  My dear, sweet husband doesn't share the same passion for organizing and clean surfaces so this part of the basement is ignored by me.  Until I need gloves or a hammer and can't find it anywhere. 

PLAN: Continually convince Matt this needs to be cleaned up.  And half of it gotten rid of (in my opinion...).  Also, figure out the local free electronic recycle day so we can take a big load.  A lot of people pass on their old computers and Matt can salvage some pieces...but then we have a lot of half computers that are just taking up space. 

8) Paint storage
Another almost free shelf Matt built which is a huge step up from how we stored paint for a long time.  This needs some work, and actually looks better at this moment than it does here, but could use a little more.

PLAN: Clean it up, better organize the non-paint that is on this shelf. 
That's it.  Eight different functions our basement serves.  Making this list actually makes it seem a little more manageable, actually.  Some painting, some organizing, and some convincing my husband that I am always, 100% right when it comes to these decisions.  We always put off cleaning up the basement in the winter because it's cold down there and then in the summer because we're working outside and who wants to be stuck in a basement when you could be enjoying 80° days???  But things do need to happen down there and now I'm a little more motivated to start! 

First up, the pantry shelves.  I already bought pretty liner for it!  No doubt I'll share when something happens (so look for that in about 6 months...or longer.)

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