Basements are too often a repository for items we think we “might need someday”, or are undecided on whether or not to throw away. If your basement is cluttered, you can take a few simple steps to reclaim that large storage space: make an efficient organization system with a designated spot for each item. Here are some professional tips for effective basement organization:

Start by De-cluttering

Do not waste your time organizing items that you do not need. Although it can be emotional, your best bet is to start by sorting through everything in the basement and making five piles:

  • Items you need access to throughout the year.
  • Things you need seasonally (such as holiday decorations or sports gear).
  • Mementos that you do not need at hand but want to save.
  • Items you can give away (to friends, relatives or a thrift store).
  • Items of no use (your trash pile).

After sorting your belongings, throw away the trash and give away what you can. At this point, you will have a more manageable collection of items.

Designing Your Storage

Are you planning to renovate in the future? You might want to build a storage system that can remain the same after the remodel. You can use painter’s tape on the floor to map the layout as you decide how to arrange your storage. Make a plan by dividing your basement into areas for living spaces, utility areas (HVAC, plumbing and electrical), and storage. It helps to divide your storage areas by use, for example:

  • Tools
  • Craft and sewing
  • Holiday decorations
  • Sports equipment
  • Suitcases
  • Camping equipment
  • Stored furniture
  • Seasonal clothing
  • Memorabilia

Vertical storage can be a wise use of space, but be sure to keep heavy items on the lower shelves. You might also want to consider how you are going to move items in and out of your storage space.

Build a Safe Storage System

Storage systems are not always stylish, but they do have to be safe from moisture and strong enough to hold all of your belongings. Here are some ideas:

  • Shelves made with 2 by 4 studs and plywood which can be painted are strong and versatile.
  • Metal or plastic shelving that can be assembled is inexpensive and easy to use and move.
  • Pegs, wire racks or hooks are useful for hanging tools, sewing items, or craft accessories.
  • Large Hooks can be used for hanging bicycles.
  • Cubby shelving with boxes is especially good for smaller items or children’s toys.
  • If groundwater is a concern, create a track flange system off the floor and use airtight storage containers
  • Colourful lockers can be an attractive alternative to shelving and especially nice for children’s items or seasonal gear.

Choose Containers that Help Keep You Organized

Often, a variety of sizes of plastic boxes with tight lids and sturdy plastic bags make the best sort of basement organization containers. You can label them right on the outside with a sharpie pen, or use office labeling stickers. For a more decorative look, you can use chalk, coloured or computer printed labels. Alternatively, try clear plastic boxes that you can see through so you do not need to label them. If you want a more attractive look and are not worried about moisture, you might want to use baskets or canvas boxes to hide the clutter. This look works especially well in a finished basement.

Creating an organized basement can take time, but by de-cluttering, carefully planning, grouping like items together and labeling them in moisture-proof containers, you can reclaim your valuable basement space.