This time of year we are helping a lot of people move. And inevitably the first place most people ask for assistance is in the basement. Basement clean-outs are always requested with a certain sigh in the voice. Most of us know we store too much here, but have a lingering feeling that there are things we need to review and come to terms with.
Mentally the basement is more taxing than say, an extra bedroom, because we have put things down there which we "thought we might one day need" but don't care to see any time soon. We term this type of keeping as "Hypothetical Keeping," which includes all those thing we have held onto for "maybe one day" or for "just in case" scenarios.
Amongst all of the "possibilities" that exist in the basement, there are also some things we are keeping long-term such as memorabilia and seasonal items. These items of personal value are the "glue" which holds the rest of our items in basement limbo. Some things are personally important, most things are not, and many things have a question mark hanging over them.
And the basic anatomy--or storage pattern--of the basement, generally goes like this: things on the shelves, things stacked in boxes or in tubs, and items randomly held on a table top or workbench.
Here are the top 10 things we commonly see in the basement that can generally immediately go:
1. Generic Vases
3. Empty Boxes. Sometimes they are for products in use, but more often than not they are just empty boxes!
4. Old Luggage, Laptops and Duffle Bags
5. Unused wall art/posters
6. Parts that belong to "something"
7. Books. Give yourself a double low score if you are storing outdated textbooks here!
8. Paint, chemicals, building materials--for that one project just in case.
10. Saved gift wrap--that didn't save very well.
Does any of this sound familiar? Well there is surely a local charity who would like to meet you:)
Clothing is another item commonly kept in the basement. Seasonal clothing that is rotated in and out of this area is generally okay. But basements are no place for long-term storage of clothing or any material-based items. This also includes stuffed animals and linens. Condition matters! If you are keeping baby clothes or the clothes of your grown children, remember that material doesn't do well over long periods of time, especially in a basement.
Paper is another item that does not live well in a basement. Yet, we often find decades worth of schoolwork and child art as well as personal records in boxes and bins. For some, these papers are worth review. But in reality most people realize that papers really don't hold condition, value or interest in the way they had imagined. Be ready for a removal plan for old paper: paper to purge/recycle, paper to shred, and paper that if it is truly worth keeping (such as memorabilia)--should be enjoyed in another way than at the bottom of a box.
But beyond the unnecessary things and items that don't store well here--you might be wondering, what is the basement good for? Well, with the proper storage shelving and protection, we have a few recommendations for what lives well here. The key is easy visibility, easy access, and LOW QUANTITIES:
1. Extra Large kitchen utilities such as roasting pans and stock pots
2. Seasonal sporting goods like skis or bikes
3. Holiday décor
Notice the absence of anything with material or fibers. Condition matters. No one really wants anything old, dusty, stained, or that needs mending. And for an item to be worth YOUR storage real estate and effort, it should be worth taking care of properly. Hopefully this narrowly defined basement criteria will help keep future storage quantities low.
And remember if you need help digging out, we are just a phone call away. Happy clearing!