Wendy, thanks for sharing your basement video with me (If you missed it check out yesterday’s post!) While it seems very overwhelming to you, your basement is actually under much better control than the average person…and you have enough space to spread out! I have said that the basement represents your past and you don’t want to be too stuck in it. Lucky for you, you seem to be storing a lot of present day items that you and your family currently use.
While it is probably the visual clutter that makes you feel disorganized, the fact that you knew where everything was in your basement shows that it is more organized than you think! Rather than focus on what you need to get rid of, let’s first talk about five characteristics I loved about your basement and point out all of the organizational skills you have brought to that area that work so well in any house.
1. PEGBOARD: I cannot say enough about its utility in the basement, garage, craft rooms and attic spaces. Wendy, you would probably prefer not to see any of the items on the pegboard, but it as an organizational tool it can’t be beat for the visual person. Not only does it maximize your vertical space to store even more, but with so many varieties of hooks and shelving inserts you can store just about anything and see it quickly. Great use of it for the ski equipment, tools and for hanging your floral arrangements.
2. CREATING AREAS FOR DIFFERENT ITEMS: You have done a phenomenal job of using sections of your basement for like items. Most basements tend to be piles of boxes, furniture, and other archival pieces that people throw down there when can no longer decide what to do with it all. You have clear areas for the items that you store. If someone asked you where your holiday decorations, children’s memorabilia, the living room paint color or ski masks are you would be able to put your hands on them within minutes. That shows you have inventoried and categorized your items properly. That is organization.
3. BIG LABELS: Even though you have quite a bit on your shelves in your back room, I love how you printed big, clear labels to go on your bins. Labels don’t have to be fancy, but they need to be easy to understand and quick to see. If I could be sent to that room and find the box labeled Aunt Sissy’s china, then you are organized!
4. FIREPROOF SAFE: Having a fireproof safe in your house is a great idea. There are just some things that are too precious to be out in the open and a protected area such as this can allow you to store original social security cards, wills, passports, copies of your credit cards and birth certificates in a safe place.
5. LIMITED SPACE FOR KIDS MEMORABILIA: I love that you are archiving the special memories from your kids’ school years in reasonably sized containers. It is easy to get carried away saving every item. By limiting each kid to a clear drawer you are creating a neat and easily accessible area to direct the memories, while forcing yourself to really choose the most important pieces.
Now I would like to focus on four areas I think you could make a quick impact on:
1. You mentioned saving your photograph negatives. Consider keeping your most precious negatives in the fire proof safe if you haven’t already digitally scanned your older photographs. If your house burned tomorrow, with negatives you would be able to recreate the lost pictures to their original quality.
2. Sort through the pantry items. It is so easy to keep storing extra food because you have extra shelving. I know you have a particularly large family, so it is necessary to bulk up on items. But you might want to challenge yourself to grocery shop in your basement first before you head out to the store. Often, once food makes it downstairs it quickly gets forgotten or avoided because of the extra steps it takes to access it. If you find you aren’t running down there more than once every couple of weeks, you may be storing too much.
3. If you are going to store large boxes from purchases on your shelving, make sure that you are inventorying periodically. If you have had an item more than 6 months to a year, the likelihood that you will need to return it for any reason under the warranty is slim. If you need the space, consider keeping the UPC code part of the box, or any other unique identifiers, with your original receipt and ditch the bulky items.
4. Paperwork and columns. Wendy I know that you are an avid scanner of paperwork. Consider scanning some of your memorabilia, such as your original columns, or placing the most memorable or special ones in a scrapbook so you can begin eliminating some of the paper on your shelving downstairs. Scanning can allow you to recall and revisit memories on paper without the physical need to store it.
Your basement is a prime example of the imperfect perfection we love to talk about. It may not look perfect, but it functions perfectly. I can’t wait to hear how your basement clean-out goes!
Kristin is a professional organizer and the owner of Livable Solutions Professional Organizing (www.livablesolutions.com) and The Organized Lifestyle Store (www.theorganizedlifestylestore.com). You can e-mail her your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.