Many homeowners struggle to keep their basement space organized, especially if it is centrally used for storage. Messes can accumulate quickly in unfinished basements, as we’re not always downstairs to realize how dusty the corners have become, or how disorganized we’ve left our filing cabinets.
There’s tons of opportunity for our basements – finished or not – to become great spaces for storage and organization, even if you’re not a “tidy” person by-nature yourself. Follow these tips to improve your basement storage and organization strategy.
Keep valuables off the floor and tucked away on shelves or in boxes.
Professionals who specialize in basement development in Calgary highly recommend keeping any valuables that you may store in your basement off the floor, especially as our basements tend to be the first victims of water damage when there’s flooding or spring melt overrun. If you’re looking to make your basement more livable whilst simultaneously waterproofing to reduce the risk of disaster, you’ll want to consider a couple water-prevention steps as well, such as:
- Ensuring your downspouts are always facing away from the home
- Cleaning out your gutters regularly
- Changing the pitch of your foundation if your home’s grade is causing water to drain into your basement
- Installing a sump pump to drain extra water
If you’re particularly worried about your antique collection of chinaware or you aren’t sure if your photo collections would hold up to a flood, you can go the extra step and seal them away in waterproof bags or store them somewhere else in the house.
Get rid of items you no longer use.
It’s tempting to hang onto old furniture, appliances, clothing, etc. for the nostalgic value or that back-of-the-mind voice that’s telling you that you’ll use it again…someday. It’s important to think logically and get rid of your old furniture and belongings to clear out your basement space and make room for the items that actually make sense to hold onto. Ask yourself what the value of the item is and if it’s really worth holding onto, or if someone could make better use of it.
Do some cleaning and painting.
Nothing freshens up a space like a nice new coat of paint, some scrubbing, and some long-awaited dusting. Many basements that have been out-of-use for a while will have gathered mildew and moisture, making it difficult to do any real work. Take the time to scrub the walls and floors with a detergent mixture and follow up with some household bleach. Once everything has had the time to dry, go ahead and paint your walls and ceiling with waterproof primer. You’ll want to ensure that your dehumidifier is set to auto – especially in the months where things can start getting a little clammy.
Make use of your laundry room space.
Do you have a laundry room down in your basement? That’s an opportunity right there! You’ll likely want to be storing a lot of “laundry-room” items as well. This is a space you’ll likely be using once or more a week, so you’ll probably want to avoid having items stashed away where you can’t use them. Instead, consider installing cabinets above your laundry machine and dryer. They look neat, and you can put your detergent, dryer sheets, towels, and other items here.
Try incorporating a DIY deodorizer.
There’s no kind way to say this, but an unused basement, over time, will start to smell. Fortunately, not all is lost. There are a few ways that are relatively affordable which can help you to ensure your basement space stays smelling good. Ensure that any items stored in your basement which may absorb smell easily are kept away in air-tight bags or containers.
Plenty of online resources exist for how to make DIY deodorizers. They’re cheap, inexpensive, and generally work pretty well. Alternatively, you can find Mason jars, puncture holes in the lid, and fill them with baking soda. Add on a few drops of essential oil. If you have any pets, you’ll want to ensure that the essential oils you use are pet-friendly first.
Take a regular inventory.
Not only is a good idea to take an inventory for your home insurance provider, if you ever need to make a claim, but it’s a good idea to take inventory to have an easy overview potential of any items you may need to get rid of. This will keep you in the habit of including new items to your list while sorting out any items that may no longer be of use to you.
Keep items prone to mold growth elsewhere.
Because your basement is typically located below-ground, it’s not a bad idea to consider storing anything prone to mildew and mold overgrowth elsewhere. Basements can be damp, especially in muggier summer months, so you may want to avoid storing anything downstairs which could be irreparably damaged if it gets wet. This includes photograph albums, separate photos, pillows, blankets, fabrics, cardboard boxes, and any wood items – even your musical instruments!
Instead, store these elsewhere, like in an attic or somewhere that may be kept dry. It’s not worth risking losing any items that might hold significant nostalgic value to you and your family!
Create a storage plan that organizes items by season.
This step may only be possible once you’ve ensured your basement is dry, possibly smelling a lot fresher, and clear of any items you no longer use. You’ll want to take a review of all the items in your basement (and the items you wish to store in your basement) and go through an organizational phase where you create storage zones for different seasons. This might be outdoor furniture and lawn tools for spring and summer, Halloween decorations and costumes for fall, and colder temperature equipment like skis, toboggans, and Christmas decorations for the winter season.
Being organized doesn’t require anyone to be a neat-freak – it just takes a few additional steps to ensuring that your basement is clean and clear of any possible useless items, smelling good, and looking fresh. Hopefully, this list has given you some direction on how to tackle your basement organization!