What do you keep in the basement?

karinlApril 20, 2011

Our house is crowded and cluttered, and we have just made some space in the basement for household stuff; previously it has mostly been DH's storage and hobby space. I have painted it so it is quite pleasant and am moving some furniture in to store some stuff down there.

It feels like getting a new room added to the house, but it's not the best room, as it is not the handiest room from the stairs and is cold in winter. We've had drainage problems before too but they seem to be resolved. Nonetheless, the fine antiques aren't going down there! The ceiling is also a bit low (I have to duck under the ducts) and I am wary of spiders - we are working on sealing off entry points. So I don't love being down there, but I need the space.

Now the question is, what stuff should go there? Long term storage that I rarely touch (but yes, that I still need to keep for the kids or for later projects), or stuff I need every day to force me to get down there so I stay on top of what I've got? I'm looking at the stuff that causes my clutter and trying to make the best use without just enabling myself.

So I'm curious how other people use their basements - many of which, based on open houses I've gone to lately, are also not the most wonderful spaces to be, but obviously make a contribution to getting through the day. I know no one can help decide the right answers for me, but I'm interested in how you made your decisions.


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Wish I had a basement. Or an attic. Most California tract homes have neither attic nor basement. For more than 30 years I carted laundry out the front door, across the atrium and into the garage. Yes, sometimes in my bathrobe. 3 years ago we carved 5 feet from our much too long master bedroom (it was 28' long), enlarged the bathroom and made a closet for the washer and dryer. I will never complain about laundry again.

If I had a basement I suppose I'd keep extra large cookware I use only occasionally (roasting pan, fondue set). I would not keep books and photos... saw too much of this ruined in my folks' home. I'd set up storage racks and put Christmas decorations and sports equipment. Stuff like that.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 3:12AM
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I have a crawl space under my house but mold and insects/spiders/centipedes and such are a problem. So I don't put anything paper down there. No books or Christmas decorations. I only use it for storing my winter storm door glass. Yes, my house still has the old storm doors that come in and out by the season. Hope this info helps someone.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 8:40AM
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Consider yourself fortunate to have a basement; in Florida we don't have basements or attics. But then maybe it would be a curse to have more space to fill with junk that I don't use.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 10:03AM
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If I had a bone dry basement, I would store luggage, sports equipment, canned goods bought in quantity, paper goods bought in quantity, and seasonal decorations. I would have an area for a workshop and storage of tools. Plants like geraniums that I wanted to winter over. Home-canned goods. Wine on a good rack. Camping gear.

That is if I had a bone dry basement that never got damp.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 12:23PM
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I have a storage area in the basement of our apt. building.

We keep:
-christmas stuff
-old toys (these actually should go away)
-tools & hardware-type stuff
-out-of-season clothes

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 2:22PM
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Besides all the junk that's in the basement (which I am slowly trying to get rid of), I do keep books, suitcases, boxes of wool material for hooking, furniture, Christmas decorations (in 2 plastic tubs), window screens, tools (workbench), and treasures that I am saving so my kids can have an interesting estate sale when I'm gone. To be serious, I do use a dehumidifier. The basement does get water in it during an extended storm, but does not ever seem to be damp. The dehumidifier has been a blessing. So has the sump pump.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 11:57PM
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Our basement is finished. Low ceiling, but otherwise livable. We have a sump pump with battery backup; got that after one section flooded (1/2 inch, but enough).

Leftover house paint, tools, decorative paints, coat closet (tiny house- no room upstairs), wine rack, bookcase with doors, TV, CDs (DH has tons) and tools. Basically, anything that would be affected by water damage is off the floor. We use it as our office/craft/TV space as it is one large room, about 1k square feet. I have a laundry room which is separate and DH has a workshop which is a total disaster.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 8:41PM
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Our basement is finished.

There are three rooms:
-full bathroom
-DH's office (complete with wine storage!)
-laundry room with storage

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 9:04PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

Unfinished basement here that is not reliably 'dry' and that really needs cleaned up/out.

Things that would stay are
The freezer
Nice metal shelving that holds canning jars, canning 'gear', home canned goodies, as well as overflow of store bought (on sale of course) canned goods.
Left over paint, and all the paint 'gear'.
Bigger seldom used kitchen appliances-electric frying pan, ice cream maker, etc.
A few extra empty containers that 'could' be recycled...ie plastic jars, coffee containers (no longer cans), butter bowls, etc.
Car cleaning 'stuff'
Wood refinishing 'stuff'
'Stuff' that I would sometime like to refinish...ie old wooden chairs that I love.
House plant 'stuff'
Garden chemicals that shouldn't be allowed to freeze.
A few items that should not be allowed to freeze and that are in the shed during warmer months...power washer, hand pressure sprayers.
Left over lumber that should go to the shed loft for possible future use.
Exercise equipment! If/when I get the basement all cleaned up, I'd like to fix and use the equipment, complete with a nice Nordic Track.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 10:49AM
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It seems to me the question is "what do you want to put into the basement"? In my opinion, do not put anything in there that you want to be rid of! It will be there forever. My siblings and I have no basements! Mostly because our parents had a three story house with a full basement, and I do me full!! Store stuff safely that you want to get to seasonally; store food stuff that you will use on rotation, but take into account your geographical area and the moisture, heat/cold, insects, etc.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 7:36PM
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I appreciate the input... and am also thinking about my kids' estate sale! Not going to use the basement as an excuse, I'm hoping, but to help the house as a whole. It's not a luxury, this basement - the house is small and old, and has no closets.

So far I have one bookshelf down there, a big horizontal one that is off the floor.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 12:36AM
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Sorry, I was typing this in the closing minutes of the Canucks' do-or-die play-off hockey game last night and was not concentrating! And I'm not even a serious fan, but that's how tense it was. Fortunately, the Canucks won and now the whole city can relax. Until the next round.

One other thing I meant to add is that I'm realizing that to get rid of certain things, it helps me to be able to see all the things of that nature that I have. I find it hard to make a decision about one book unless I can see all my books, or shoes, or what have you. That's a bit exaggerated but I think I am going to try to get all my books into the basement - off the floor. At least, that's my plan until I see how many I actually have stuffed into various places all over the house! A place to sit and look through the books, and light for doing so, are thus also going to be factored in.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 3:46PM
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I did a basement declutter mission in February and whipped mine into shape. I've got the before and after pictures posted here:

Of course, my list will differ from yours, but in my basement (which has a dehumidifier), I have:

Emergency supplies (bottled water, survivalism gear for short term emergencies, etc.)
Excess pantry food storage (canned goods, bulk like paper towels, etc.)
Craft supplies
Exercise equipment
Canning/dehydrating/Food crafting equipment (including several cases of jars and bottles, my 18 quart roaster, etc.)
Homebrewing supplies
Home canned food
Christmas/Halloween/Other decorations (including china, exterior and interior decorations, holiday cookie making supplies, etc.)
Household decorations (disposable tablecloths, etc.)
Gifts for others (including packaging materials like cookie tins and wine bottle holders)
Household supplies (light bulbs, paint, etc.)
Seed starting supplies (including my mini greenhouse)

Here is a link that might be useful: Before and After Pics of My Decluttered Basement

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 3:52PM
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Save me Lord, I have both a basement AND an attic. So far the attic is safe because I can't get up there.

The basement is the same size as the house, 1,500 sq. ft. but only half of it is finished with big screen TV, art work, card/eating table, soft sofas/chairs, bar, fridge, full bathroom, etc.

Now the unfinished part.....exercise equipment (big stuff), reloading bench, 30 years of Christmas decorations (including 3 full sized trees), a potting table with a grow light above it (mostly to over winter plants), shelves upon shelves of plant pots (I have 120 houseplants upstairs), 4 sets of Gorilla shelves for big household utensils I don't use often and crafting supplies, a picnic table that I keep there for all the stuff I'm bound and determined to take to Goodwill. The floor is full of another entire household from when we sold our cabin. Several wardrobes of stuff I'll never wear again. There's a nearly new queen bed down there somewhere along with two sets of bedding. Oh yeah, tons of luggage, camping/fishing/hunting equipment. A couple of months ago, I found a 5ft X 5ft rabbit hutch that I'd modified 20 years ago for a crate for puppy training while I was at work (it was only a Chihuahua but I didn't want to cramp her style). Lots of antiques that just need a little work.

The sad part about the basement.....I never go down there after falling down the stairs a few times....

I like to refer to myself as a "collector", not a "hoarder".

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 6:58PM
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I keep my washer and dryer, pellets, pellet stove, car care, household tools, some can good and paper products storage, some christmas items, humidifier and litter box and litter. Indoor Cat has developed hobby of squishing spiders, thankfully. I also still have a section of items to go through, mostly boxed up glassware. Up until a few years ago I had a LOT more crap down there. It does feel so good to clear things out and let things go! Still need to figure out where the spiders are coming in!!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 8:50PM
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Thank you all for the continued input! MsMarieH, I have to admit, your basement "before" looks less cluttered than my after! You certainly organized beautifully, and it helps that you have a gorgeous high and newer basement.

What I'm hearing is that not many people use the basement for daily access items unless there is a functional room there like an office. I know that if I am in the space more often I will take care of things left undealt with, so I am still struggling with how to get myself down there regularly without putting something like my socks down there :-)

For now I'm down there often enough getting the area ready.

Roco, we all need a little saving from ourselves! Time for a handrail, sounds like.


    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 12:42AM
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