Organizing and decluttering the basement!

skatieroDecember 25, 2004

I need some helpful hints on large-scale decluttering and organizing! My basement is packed willy-nilly with JUNK! I am getting rid of as much as possible. Any helpful suggestions to keep me focused and motivated? We are getting ready to put our house on the market!!! :(

Also, anyone in Atlanta? That's where we are headed.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm in Atlanta! What do you need to know?

    Bookmark   December 26, 2004 at 6:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When I was moving to a house with no basement, I had to declutter my large basement filled with stuff. I did it in 2 hour increments with a 20 min break after every 2 hour segment; I had a garbage pile by the stairs and I would bring up the garbage at every break. I had a cd player down there, water, wet wipes, garbage bags, etc..

I bought tons of plastic bins so that whatever I was keeping would be in a bin, my objective was to have no dirty cardboard boxes left, they get so dusty and smelly after years of sitting there.

I also had give away piles to contend with. I tried to be ruthless and only give away what was really worth giving away, anything else would be tossed for garbage.

At first , it's a big mess with the different sections spread out but I really designated 4 days of a week to do this, sort of "9 to 4" days because I was on a deadline and had to do it by the moving date.
I really enjoyed my shower after being down there all day !!!!

This was the largest decluttering job I ever did and very satisfying.
The investment of clear plastic bins was really worth it; I still have tons of bins in my storage area, no more dirty cardboard.

Baby steps would not have worked in my case, I was too far behind, I had to attack the basement as a full time job for that week.....

    Bookmark   December 26, 2004 at 6:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Great tips, mitchdesj. I have already bought a bunch of bins but am going out for more today! And my parents are coming tomorrow, so they can help me (especially by watching the kids!!!! There are four of them, and the oldest is in first grade, so they are not incredibly helpful yet with jobs like this.

Artmom, PLEASE tell me what part of Atlanta your're in. Do you like it? How are your schools? I am an artmom as well-- a professional muralist working only partttime these days. We are hoping to find something which can close ASAP. And we are looking for a place my husband can stay until we can close on a house down there-- maybe one of those extended-day hotels, which are horribly expensive. He will rarely need it on weekends. I am going to loook in the paper (online) for people seeking roommates. he is an incredibly clean and organized person, if you know any good places to look! How old are your kids? Mine are 7,5,4, and almost 2. My husband will be covering a sales territory which includes all of Fulton, Cobb, Forsyth, Fayette, and Dawson counties.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2004 at 8:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I guess my question would be why you want to spend money on plastic bins to put junk in (that's what you called it) and then pay to have the stuff moved where it will then take up space. Time and money to organize what you probably very correctly called junk.

Why not just take the opportunity to get rid of all the junk rather than transporting it and storing it. You have a great opportunity to declutter.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2004 at 8:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

what if you go through and decide only what to KEEP. If it doesn't scream "keep me" at you, don't put it in a bin. Then, get a dumpster (even a small one), and just drag stuff out to it.

But I can see why you'd get some bins--because SOME of that stuff down there is probably stuff to keep. Those things, you're transferring to the bins.

I was emptying out a box of stuff from my kids' room; we'd boxed it up about 2 years ago for painting. I just hadn't had time to deal w/ it.

I discovered stuff that *maybe* would have gotten used, and thought, sometimes it's really to bad to totally box stuff up, because they you may even forget you have it!

Not that people should keep everything, or keep it out in the open. But it was little bit of a bummer to see stuff my kids had totally outgrown in the meantime. And so I threw it out.

I've been using that as a criterion for what to throw away. Did I forget this existed? If I packed it, would I completely forget it was there? Those things go out.

But every now and then there's something packed away that, if I had it in a more accessible place, or put away w/ other stuff like it, I'd actually use. But because I've hidden it from myself, I rob myself of the chance to use it.

Good luck--I like the "working in spurts" and the "play some music while you work" and the "bring a bottle of water down w/ you."

Pick something really lively for music. I like to clean to country music--it's not my music of choice for listening, generally, but I used to clean to it. I also liked Willie Nile, bcs he's a little bit rowdy. Kept me moving.

Oh, throw away almost all the screws and nails.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2004 at 9:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


When were first launched on this now nearly finished remodel, I went a bought 50 extra-large, like 60 quart size, plastic boxes from Walmart. Buy more than you think you need (and return what you don't need) b/c this is the time of year that people buy storage boxes: after Christmas to store the stuff that this crop of presents replaced, so boxes start flying off the shelves! I have never regretted buying that many boxes b/c I will need storage boxes for years and rotate them to where they are needed.

I bought Sterlite, but unfortunately the lid of the boxes didn't support a stack of them on top of it, so the lids are flattened. But at least the boxes are clear. You have a hard job ahead of you b/c you still need childrens clothing and it might not be time to give away your baby clothes. But I would give away as many baby toys as you can bear to part with. I found that the more children I have, the less we needed baby toys since the babies found the larger pieces of the older children's toys just as fun to chew on. So I parted with a lot of Fisher Price stuff, and that was hard. I loved those toys. But toys are easily replaced once you move via garage sales and birthdays. And next Christmas. I'd also get rid of lots of winter things that you might not need in Atlanta. And my guess is that you might have a lot of artist's supplies: paints and the like. Can you move those items? Do you have a Hazardous Waste center in your town? I'd dump/give away house paints, fertilizers, bug and weed killers, etc. Any chemicals. Extra ladders and tools that are useless. Wading pools and beach toys. Katie, the day before the carpet installers came, I called the City of Dallas Sanitation Department and paid them to do a special bulky curb-side pick-up of junk from my house. We missed the November pick-up (we thought it was cancelled due to Thanksgiving). It cost me about $86 to have them haul a sofa(with a bed inside, it weighed about a ton), two upholstered chairs, an enormous sink base (from old laundry room), mirrors, mismatched ceramic tiles (like three boxes from our OLD house), and stacks of junk. It was just great seeing all of that stuff go. We didn't want the junky furniture on the new carpet, so we had to have it talken away before the carpet was in.

In anycase, you know the drill because of Flylady. If you can enlist your husband's help, it would be good b/c you can deal with the clutter that he probably had a hand in creating, together as a team and urging one another forward. Have wine on hand and lots of garbage bags. Make it a date! Drat, my baby's crying.... got to go!

    Bookmark   December 26, 2004 at 10:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi! I'm in Atlanta too. I'm not the best at de-cluttering (see my other posts - ha ha). But I can tell you don't throw away too much winter stuff. It's true that winter is milder here. It will be 50 degrees today. But this morning it was freezing cold. You will still need coats, mittens, etc.

Feel free to email me if you need any info about Atlanta. Traffic is a nightmare, so it is very important to consider your commuting route when searching for a home. I might also be able to help you with a roommate situation.

Welcome to Atlanta!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2004 at 9:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Twinkle, email me! Yours is not listed on your page.

Cindy, thanks for the sage advice. I am taking it to heart! You are such an inspriration to me.

Artmom, I am emailing you!

Mitchdesj, I have called in my parents and am doing just what you did for the next few days! Wish me luck!

Blazedog, you are entirely correct: i need toget rid of as much stuff as i possibly can!

Talleysue, thanks for the great suggestions! I am moving a small stereo down there today!

Keep 'em coming, y'all! Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2004 at 11:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Email coming your way!

One thing that helped me throw out stuff when I was moving:

You will have to pay the movers to transport every item you keep. Think about the cost of transporting the item. Is it worth it?

Some things can be thrown out and purchased new at your new home. Examples - paper plates, giftwrap, canned goods, and other consumables.

Other things are expensive to move, such as large mirrors. You could sell these at a garage sale, add the money saved by not moving them, and purchase new ones after the move.

And then there are items like the muscial thingamajig you just got for Christmas from Aunt Oldlady. Do you really want to pay to have that moved? Get rid of it now! You can tell her the movers broke it. (hee hee)

    Bookmark   December 27, 2004 at 11:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I should confess that I'm still drowning in stuff still in boxes (not the 50 boxes I bought at Walmart, though, other boxes) from my move across Dallas five years ago. Everything is a little more challenging with children! Especially seven of them. And to tell you the truth, the stuff I'm having the hardest time getting rid of (now that the baby toys are gone) is my homeschooling stuff. My children have been in parochial school for two years and I still can't part with my teaching materials. Boo hoo. Sad to close that chapter of my life. Oh well.

And about moving, not to contradict what others have posted, buy our movers charges us for the size of the truck, not what we were moving. They figured that what we had would fit into whichever of their trucks and we paid that way. We had room to spare on that huge truck, but again, that was for a six mile trip across Dallas. The smaller trucks were for apartment type moves.

Are you moving any horses? Take care, Katie.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2004 at 3:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Generally movers charge two ways -- either by the hour if it's a reasonably close move - i.e. within the same city or a few hours away.

Across state lines, you pay by the pound.

Either way, you are paying for every piece of junk you move.

Moving is an excellent opportunity to get rid of stuff that you are hanging on to for a variety of reasons -- inertia, false sentiment, fear that you will need it.

The bottom line is that if you move junk in boxes, it will remain in boxes and anything potentially useful will probably never see the light of day.

Better to see this as an opportunity to go through your stuff once with a ruthless eye. Keep the stuff that is useful or truly to be kept for sentimental value and itemize it so that it's accessible.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2004 at 8:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

skatiero, I emailed you!

    Bookmark   December 28, 2004 at 7:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You all are amazing. This forum is sooooo helpful. I bought 20 bins and made a list of categories of stuff: one bin for each child's out-of-season or about-to-grow-into clothing (so total four), two for camping gear, one for sporting goods, one for housepainting suupplies, two for off-season linens, three for my own art supplies (it's what I do for a living), two for children's art supplies (we do projects all the time, they take after me) one for electronic stuff, one for my journals, two for Christmas stuff, (that's 20, bit the rest I already had bins for) one for sentimental stuff I want to keep at least for now (with the plan/hope that I will either display it or use it or take a photo and get rid of it after we move), and one for misc of my husband's since I did not want to get rid of anything I thought he might miss! Haha. But already it is amazingly better, and I took a whole vanload to goodwill today-- only stuff that was really, really easy to sell. Everything else is getting trashed. One noticibly absent category for bins: toys. I decided to pass on as many toys as I could (and yes, all the baby toys, Cindy!) so they are all going bye-bye.

You guys are so great. pLEASE keep encouraging me and each other. it helps so much to feel like someone is rooting for me! It's such a discouraging task to feel as though I am such a packrat.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2004 at 1:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Another Atlantan, here. I live in Dunwoody which is in northern DeKalb County. We are near Perimeter Mall, my husband works at the Concourse office bulding (known as the king and queen to locals--tall buildings off 285 and 400 with big white decorative structures on top). It's very convenient for us since he is 5 miles from work. Traffic is a bear, so you want to be convenient to work.

We love this area--our neighborhood is from late 70's early 80's. I guess it's colonial style, straight 2 stories, 4bdr and a bonus room. plus a full basement. Mostly it's empty nesters moving out and families wtih young kids moving in. If you look at Dunwoody, Austin and Vanderlyn are the desirable elementary schools (both in the top 10 in the state). Dekalb taxes are lower than Fulton County, which some parts of Dunwoody are in.

If you have questions about a particular area and you want an opinion or if you want to know more about Dunwoody, you can email me from the link on my page.


    Bookmark   December 30, 2004 at 2:09PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Loved This Book!
I just (quickly!) read "The Life-Changing Magic...
Where do you store reusable bags?
Reusable grocery bags, plastic bags, large paper bags,...
Why I look in the box before tossing
One of the boxes I recently sorted through was marked...
But I was all set to declutter the soup tureen!
I was given a soup tureen at my bridal shower. It's...
Cleaning Service--what do you have them do?
I enjoy reading this forum and now understand the difference...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™