...because home doesn't happen overnight.
01.16.11 / Basement Binge

WARNING: NO PICTURES OF PRETTY INTERIORS IN THIS POST! But if you like a good decluttering before-and-after then stay with me.

I wouldn’t say my weekend was fun, but it was productive.  Cleaning out our unfinished basement was on 2010’s fall to-do list, and somehow we skipped right over it.  Life will do that to your to-do lists, you know. Anyhow, after I made the decision to really focus on reducing {stuff, stress, debt, etc.} this year, Handy Hubby and I scheduled for a babysitter to be at our house this past Saturday for 6 hours during the day. We knew if we were gonna make any kind of dent in the basement clutter, our boys would have to be preoccupied.  I’ve tried ‘organizing’ with our kids before.  It doesn’t work…at least for major organization sessions.  As soon as I have piles separated, *someone* starts pulling stuff out and I’m back at square one in 5 minutes.  Ahh!  So, yeah, we paid somebody to come play with the boys while we did a number on the hot mess in our basement.  Oddly enough, our babysitter’s mom just so happened to have a 15′ truck for the weekend that she kindly offered up to us for hauling junk away.  Score!  {Thanks Lydia and Sarah!}

Good thing…we had a lot of crap in the basement.  When we moved in 3 years ago, anything that we didn’t know where to put got thrown in the basement and was never seen again.  We also added to the chaos by dragging unwanted furniture, toys, electronics, etc. down there over time.  It all added up to one giant disorderly place.  And while we didn’t see the mess on a daily basis, I knew it was there…hidden by our tidy main floor.  I felt like it was a dirty secret I was keeping. Here I was decorating simply and telling you all how to disguise toy storage in your living spaces…all the while I had a dumpsterful of crap sitting in my basement.  Something had to be done.

In proper Mission Organization fashion, we hung signs around the basement categorizing each pile.

Handy Hubby and I spent 6 hours sorting through every last tote, bag and box, only coming up once for a quick lunch.  We kept a notepad in the ‘donate’ zone to write down each item we put in that pile…for tax deduction purposes.

We ended up with 4 pages of ‘donate’ stuff.  That was Saturday.  On Sunday, we loaded up our donation pile into the ‘big twuck’ {as Everett called it}.  Seriously, it took a BUH-zillion trips up and down those basement stairs.  It was 25° outside, but I was sweating with no coat.  Good workout. We didn’t have a babysitter for this part of the binge.  Everett was desperately trying to prove his big boy status by ‘helping.’  I had to keep opening bags and giving him something small to carry out to the ‘big twuck.’  His favorite part was walking up and down the loading ramp of the truck.  Here’s the ‘big twuck’ in all its glory right before we hauled it off to Goodwill.

This was the view from our front door this morning…

…notice the mongo trash pile on the curb.  We handed down the plastic storage bins to Handy Hubby’s folks who may be moving soon and just so happened to be in town for the day.  But enough talk.  Let’s walk the walk.  Check out these before-and-afters of the once furniture dungeon…

The items {doors, mirrors, old island countertop} propped up against the studs in the after shot are waiting to be hauled off to our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.  Sadly, they aren’t open on Sundays.  The black chairs in the bottom right hand corner of the after shot were waiting for our brother-in-law to come pick them up.  They’re gone now!

Before, the ping pong table wasn’t getting any playtime.  It was acting like more of a workbench. Now, you could probably fit 5 ping pong tables down there.

Who knew changing the furnace air filter could be so easy without all that crap in the way?

The majority of the stuff we kept ended up in this bump-out under the sunroom.  In a few months, I plan on going through this keep pile and whittling it down even further.

That’s the view looking back toward the front of the basement where you come down the steps. Nice.  All-in-all the basement binge went off without a hitch.  Things did get a little hairy when this guy made an appearance.

That picture doesn’t do him justice.  He was easily the size of a ping pong ball.  Maybe he thought he was one since he was hiding out under the ping pong table.  I saved Handy Hubby from him. He’s not fond of spiders.  All the dust from the basement and salt from the walk {we didn’t want to slip on the ice!} got tracked onto the floors.  I spent the better part of the afternoon scrubbing them clean.

It feels so good to have a clutter-free basement.  I’m glad we finally wrestled it into submission, but I’m also looking forward to doing something fun next weekend.

images:  all Dana Miller for House*Tweaking



Great JOB! I can’t believe how quickly you got all that done.


Thanks for the inspiration! We’re getting ready to put our house on the market and need to do the same in our basement!


“Fail-to-do” list… not THAT is a great (and funny) idea! It looks great down there – makes me almost happy we don’t have a basement to store stuff in – we have to get rid of stuff right away as there is no place to store it. I insist on parking my car in the garage so we can’t put it there either! Way to go! Good luck on your design course… you’ll do great.


LOVE it – sadly this does sound like a fun Saturday – doesn’t it feel amazing to get it all out? I spent my Saturday at IKEA and my Sunday for 5, yes five hours reorganizing my three’s LEGOS – it is gorgeous though and I’m inspired my your mega-purge. Way to go!


That’s a ton of work! How lucky are you to have such a huge basement!!

I’m working on closets and the laundry area this weekend, lots of donating/recycling to do tomorrow.


Your basement is huge. What a great job. Doesn’t it feel so good to have it done? Decluttering is one of my favorite pick-me-up when I’m feeling down.


Isn’t it great getting things organized at last?! I salute you and your basement project. It really does look amazing.

I don’t have a basement, but I’ve been going through an intensive organization project, and even my small townhome with no kids leaves me exhausted at the end of the day. You guys rock!


Are you talking about the Restore in Bond Hill? I’ve been wanting to go there for awhile, but my husband heard it was in a sketchy part of town , so I have been hesitant. Have you been there before?


Congrats on your clean basement! I find that I have much more patience with the unfinished state of ours when it is clean and organized. Enjoy it while it lasts! :)


I was ooh-ing and ahhh-ing all through this post. Awesome job! I know that was no small feat, but the “after” feeling is oh so good.


Great job. Will you guys one day finish the basement? That would be some large playroom or extra hangout space.


Jules – The ReStore in Fairfield, I think. This will be our first visit there. I’m super excited!


Ironically we did the same thing to our basement on Saturday. We’re gearing up for a big reno to add second bathroom and the basement is the only place we have the space. Your basement looks like the Taj Mahal compared to ours, I’m so jealous of all the space you have!


Good grief, that a lot of stuff! I am sure you guys feel so much lighter now. We are currently working on purging our house, too, but on a much smaller scale.


So jealous of your basement!!! They’re rare in the Pac NW and even rarer in Austin (where we move to in 10 days)— I always thought that if I had a basement, my kids would love rollerblading and/or riding their scooters down there on icky days.


Help! Our basement is 10X worse than yours. Please share with me how you got motivated to clean it all. We are struggling to get started and feel like every time we go down to the evil basement just seem to spin our wheels. Hats off to you and your Hubby for a job well done!


db – Honestly, we just got fed up with it! Well, I should say I got fed up with it. For months, we kept putting it on our to-do list but it just kept getting shoved to the bottom because it’s not an area/room we use daily. Finally, I had it and Handy Hubby and I set a date, lined up a babysitter and marked it on the calendar. I was dreading it. But I knew if we scheduled a specific time to do it, we would do it. Once we got down there started sifting through everything, we really couldn’t stop. If feels so good not to be sitting on top of a mess anymore!