How To: Organize a basement

Organize a basement

It's not too uncommon for your basement to become extraordinarily messy, as that is where unused items tend to migate.

Has your basement become the catch-all place for stuff you don't know what to do with? Take a deep breath, go downstairs, and get the clutter under control once and for all.

Step 1: Set up

Set up three boxes: "garbage," "donations," and "I'll think about it later."

Step 2: Sort

Sort through boxes, closets, and shelves and get rid of as much stuff as possible. Be ruthless! The worst that can happen is that you'll throw out something you'll have to buy again.

Step 3: Store

Take everything you are keeping and decide where best to store it. If you've done a good job throwing stuff out, you'll have extra space in your closets and on your shelves for items that have been languishing in boxes.

Step 4: Install shelves

If need be, install extra shelves to hold household goods like paper products and light bulbs. Use milk crates or storage bins to hold shelved items, and mark the contents on each one, like camping, holiday decorations, or games.

TIP: Invest in waterproof plastic bins; basements always run the risk of flooding.

Step 5: Hang

Hang hooks and pegboards for tools, extra pots and pans, toys, and so on. Group like items together.

TIP: A basement is not the place to store books, photos, good wood furniture, or fabrics that can be damaged by moisture.

Step 6: Discard

Throw out your garbage and donate the rest of the items you don't want to charity. Go through your "undecided" box one more time before stashing it in a closet or corner to revisit on another day.

Did you know? One in 11 households rents storage space, even though the size of the average U.S. home keeps growing.

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