Tackling the Storage Spaces {post 1 of 2}: basement storage room

So, I have a confession to make: my storage closets are disasters.  Bad.  Really bad.  Like an episode of Hoaders-bad.  Ok, maybe not quite that bad, but they are not good at all.  Before I get into the nitty gritty and photos, let me explain.   When I moved in, I needed a place to store all the "stuff" without a home.  In the very beginning, that place was the downstairs playroom and big storage closet.  As I've lived here and gradually settled in, I have reduced the "stuff" storage place to the big storage closet.  It has a door and there's no need to go in there at all unless I need something.  

I have two other storage areas: an outdoor closet by the front door (where I store the trashcan and recycle containers) and one off of the brick patio (where I store a mishmash of stuff).  Rather than try to describe, I'll let the pictures do the talking.

Here is my front outdoor closet:

Here is my patio outdoor closet:

And - gulp - here is my basement storage closet.  The big mahoff (note: I had no idea the term "big mahoff" was a Philadelphia thing ... but it is and it means the big boss) ... brace yourself: 

No judgment!  No judgment!  Don't do it!  But you can a little.  Because it's bad.  I know it's bad.  And the thing is, even though I gave myself a free pass on these spaces because they're hidden and no one sees them but me and I wanted to focus on the actual rooms in the house, knowing that these spaces were in such disarray made me crazy.  I could handle the crazy until a few weeks ago when I  hit my tipping point:  I needed to spackle some nail holes in the wall and could not find a plastic putty knife (and I have a million of them - literally one million) in the mess among my tools.  So it was time.  And the time is now!

I started big: with the big storage room in the basement.  I'll share the transformation of the other two spaces in another post.  But this one is the biggie.  

The first thing I did was to sit down, calm down, and figure out what was going in each of the spaces.  I decided as follows:
  • Front outdoor closet: scooters, helmets, broom, snow shovel (meh!), ice-melter (meh!), and the trash cans.  
  • Patio outdoor closet:  gardening stuff and kids' outdoor toys. 
  • Big basement storage room:  everything else!  That includes my tools, paint, project stuff, beach stuff, home decor, holiday decor, moving boxes, books and photo albums, coolers, and bikes.
Plan in hand, I set to work.  The first thing I did was completely empty out the space and put things into piles based on where they would go back in the room. I would organize the space into different zones.  I stored the piles in the kids' playroom.   

The OCD in me really really wanted to paint the floor a bright cheery color, like I did in my first house and paint the pegboard and walls.  But, I figured that was a down the line project when I run out of other projects to do.  I wanted to just get this sucker done so I could move on and get back to the many other projects I have and want to do.  I took stock of my organizing pieces and ended up buying four more plastic shelves (one from Lowe's at $14.99 and three from Home Depot -- two smaller ones were $16 and the larger one was $10 because it was the last one, it was out of its packaging and had no SKU ... so the manager said he would just let me have it for $10.  Um ... yes!).  I then figured out the appropriate zones for all of the stuff and started bringing stuff back in.

Paint Zone

I put the paint all together with the paint tools and spray paint.  I used peg board hooks to hang my good paint brushes on the pegboard.  Over in the corner is my stash of scrap wood.  Never throw away scrap wood!  Ever!  I was able to stack the big pieces but for the smaller pieces, I used an old cheapie Ikea trashcan that I had.  When I moved in, I bought a bunch of those trashcans (I think they're like $1 each) and have slowly replaced them with nicer trashcans because those are the things that make me crazy.  So I'll put them to work in my storage places.  

I had both of these storage pieces on hand.  The little shelf was something my friend Heather gave me when I moved in.  She didn't need it any more and asked if I could use it.  I snatched it up.  It's lived in my room, Little's room and now the storage room.  It works great to hold paint.  For the spray paint on top, I cut some extra wood that I had in my stash and put two pieces for the back row and one for the middle.  I like the stacked effect.  See? Never throw away wood!  Never!

This little mesh set of drawers was free!  Someone in my neighborhood put it out for the trash, and I grabbed it.  It works perfectly to hold foam rollers, drop cloths and paint tools and my throw-away brushes. Don't judge.  It is in great shape and I cleaned it thoroughly.  And I saved something perfectly useful from the landfill.  I propped my extra plywood behind the shelf.

Tool Zone

Next up was my tool area.  I used two tall white plastic shelves and a smaller plastic cart.  I also took advantage of the peg board and hung up my most used tools: hammer, tack hammer, level, crow bar. I had this old shower organizer that I was about to toss but thought better of it. I think it might come in handy at some point.  I also hung my saws on the wall.  I found this iron hanger thing among the "stuff" and decided to hang it, too! I use this iron for my no-sew sewing projects because it's scorched from all the hem tape and it leaves marks on anything I need to iron for real.  

First, the little cart.  This was also a curb alert courtesy of a neighbor! Thank you neighbor who threw out a perfectly good and useful cart!  I knew it would work great for either crafts or tools and am super happy I grabbed it.  I love the top because it has little divided spaces, which is perfect for these tools.  Come on ... those little divided sections make my OCD, organizing loving heart sing.  The drawers hold my millions of putty knives, nails and screws, picture hanging tools, and caulk, glues and adhesives.  

Shelf #1 (on the left) is all tools and materials.  The bottom shelf has my vice and jigsaw; the next shelf has my circular saw, sander and cordless drill; the next shelf has a bin of hardware and hooks; and the top has my miter box in a pretty red toile box.  Shelf #2 (on the right) is a mix of tools and other stuff.  The bottom shelf has my paint trays; the next shelf is my drill, screws and anchors and drill bits; the next shelf has household necessities such as ant spray and traps, WD40, etc. in the red bin and spackle.; and the top has my polycrilic and a red bin filled with the Closetmaid accessories (my house has Closetmaid closet systems all over).

Moving Box Zone

Sadly, I'm going to have to move again at some point relatively soon.  It is bittersweet.  On the one hand, I am looking forward to being closer to where the kids go to school and to the kids themselves when I don't have them, as well as a bunch of good friends I made in that area. On the other hand, I love my home, I love the friends I have out here, I love this area ... and the idea of moving makes me want to cry.  Anyway ... I saved the boxes when I moved in here, and I don't want to ditch them.  So they're stacked neatly on top of the old coffee table that I painted.  I like that they're off the floor.  And under the coffee table are two boxes that hold project supplies: batting, canvases and foam.  I stacked my Christmas tree next to the boxes too.  And lookie there - I used an extra table (clearance buy from Target from years ago that was around $20 but that does not have a home here) to hold my beer.  

Toy & Beach & Sport Zone

Right next to the boxes and behind the door is where I stored the toys & beach & sports stuff.  I brought in another white shelf for the toy/beach/sport area.  I needed a central spot for all of the summer and sport gear.  I have my coolers here, my emergency lantern and my bike stuff (in the red and white tin and my tri bag on top).  I also put the beach toys here.  The bottom shelf has a bin with my picnic backpack and a regular backpack and other supplies like water and windshield wiper fluid. I stacked my beach cart next to the shelf and hung the umbrella and beach chair from the pegboard.

I also added a hook to the back of the door and hung my beach bag from it.  Funny: I've had that hook (and two of its friends) for years from the Target Dollar Spot. There's nothing wrong with it, but it's always felt a little cheap to me.  So I used it here (and in my outdoor patio closet) because I know I won't end up staying here permanently.  Ha.

Christmas Zone & Big Bin Zone

Next up: the corner where I keep my Christmas bins and other bins.  The other bins are yearbooks, books, photo albums, humidifiers, and air mattresses (yes, plural. This is yet another reason why I needed to organize this space: I had one, I knew I had one and yet I could not find one. So I bought a new one.  And now I have two).  I stacked all of my Christmas stuff together and on the shelf.  Look how nice and Christmassy.

Decor & Home Supplies Zone

I had this white plastic shelf already and it works perfectly for extra home decor and home supplies.  I keep extra frames, vases and decor on it so I can shop my stash when it's time to change things up.  I also have a box filled with lightbulbs and a box filled with extension cords.  Now they are all together so when I need them I can just grab and go.  The bottom shelves are canvas bins where I keep the kids' yearly folders of art work.

Storage Zone

Finally, this large open area by the window is perfect for storing my big things: my saw horses, my ladders and eventually, when the weather turns cooler, my patio furniture.  I don't have room for a workbench, but my parents gave me this old console table, and I use that for projects.  I realized it would be a lot more functional with wheels, so I am going to pick up some locking casters at the Home Depot and will them on the legs.  I can't wait!

Whew!  This took two days to do: day 1 took about 4 1/2 hours and day 2 took 4 hours.  This is a terrific start.  In the cooler months, I am going to go hog wild and make really nice, really swoon-worthy labels for all of the stuff.  And eventually, depending on how other projects go and how much longer I live here, I really want to paint the floors and walls.  But for now, I am just happy that everything is neat, tidy and organized.  And that I can find anything I need very quickly.

Some before and afters real quick before I'm out:







Before OMG


See you swoon,


  1. I have to use you as an inspiration and do the same in my house! My baseman is absolutely mess! I cant' find anything there! You did a great job!

  2. I found your blog looking for motivation & inspiration before I tackle my basement storage room today. Thank you!