Here are five simple steps to organize your basement so you can look forward to spending time there.

Basements are often the most cluttered areas of the home. It’s easy to keep shoving items down there when we don’t know where else to store them. However, the basement is the foundation of a house; if stuff is piling up there, it can symbolize a life built on shaky ground.
If you want to feel more grounded and at peace in your home, let go of the clutter. Here’s how:

1. Find a purpose: If your basement has become a dumping ground, the first thing you need to do is give it a clear purpose, because rooms without one end up collecting junk. A basement often needs to serve many purposes, so determine what they are and set up
clearly defined zones. Perhaps you’d like to create a storage area for your kids’ toys and a safe place for them to play, or a comfy area for your family to relax and watch TV. If you have a musician in the family or someone crafty, you could create a functional space for these activities. Other uses may include general storage, laundry area, and home gym.
2. Clear away the unnecessary: Once you’ve decided how you are going to use the space, remove anything that doesn’t belong. If you are not using the basement for a home gym, remove the treadmill – it was just collecting dust anyway. If your kids are adults now, it’s time to donate their toys. If you haven’t used the sewing machine in years, let it go and release the guilt along with it.
3. Make decisions: Decluttering and organizing a basement can feel overwhelming. It’s best to make decisions on larger pieces first and remove them immediately if you’re
not keeping them. This provides instant gratification and more space to sort what’s left. Leave the time-consuming items, like photos and papers, until the end, so you won’t get bogged down. Schedule small chunks of time to work on these items; you could take them
upstairs to sort, one box at a time.

4. Set up safe storage: Once all the clutter is removed, set up sturdy, plastic shelving units to store items off the floor. This maximizes the vertical space and protects against water damage. Use labelled clear bins to organize items in categories on the shelves. Hang hooks for bulky items like skates or sports bags. For kids’ toys, install low shelving and use small plastic bins (without lids). Label each with a photo to indicate the contents.

5. From drab to bright: Once you’ve cleared the clutter, it’s time to make your basement more inviting. Use proper lighting to avoid the cave like effect. Choose a paint colour that brightens the basement. If flooring is cold and dreary, foam floor tiles are an easy and inexpensive fix, especially for playroom and laundry areas. Once you’ve decluttered and
organized your basement, you’ll look forward to spending time there instead of dreading it.
Article courtesy of Hellen Buttigieg, CPO, is a Certified Professional Organizer, life coach, TV personality, author and speaker. This article can be found in Home Digest Fall 2015, Ontario Edition magazine

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