Basements, garages, and attics, oh my. They’re both a blessing and a curse. Obviously it is amazing having all that storage room right in your own home. No worries about where to put out of season clothing, piles of baby gear, paint and tools, or Christmas decorations.
On the other hand, it is a well known fact that the more storage space you have, the more useless junk you decide to store.
Our house is a ranch with a full unfinished basement. Which means that we have 1600 square feet of living space and 1600 square feet of storage space to go with it. That is a LOT of storage space.
Every few months my husband and I head downstairs to spend a few hours clearing things out. We make some good progress, promise ourselves we will finish soon, and then promptly forget about it until a few more months have passed and new piles of stuff have erased any evidence that we ever cleaned at all.
(Warning – this post is sadly lacking any pretty pictures. In this case the truth just isn’t pretty!)
The sad part is, we both spend time down there amidst the dirt and mess regularly. Our washer and dryer are in the basement as is all of my husband’s workout equipment. So we are both down there pretty much daily.
And every time I walk down the stairs, I think about how much junk we have that we absolutely do not want or need. Stuff I would have donated or thrown away immediately if I hadn’t had that nice big basement so conveniently located to stash them in. Grrrr.
I’ve decided I’m sick of it. I’ve been working slowly and steadily over the past few years to declutter our home and not having so much dang stuff dragging you down feels amazing. But every time I walk into the basement, it is like a huge weight settles back onto my shoulders.
We are going to get this taken care of this time.
I’m setting a goal to have the basement completely cleaned out by the end of January. Completely.
That is what will make this time different from all the others – we are actually going to finish instead of just ‘making a dent’ or ‘getting on the right track’. And I am going to be sharing the whole process right here for the next few weeks. Because there is no way we are the only ones with this basement mess hanging over our heads.
The first step in the Great Basement Cleanout is simple – create a plan of attack.
Evaluate the mess. What’s actually down there? What things do you see that you plan to keep? What things do you see that need to be tossed or recycled? Donated? Sold? What things are you not sure about yet?
If you want to write this down, I made a handy printable to help. You can download your own copy here. It’s nothing fancy – just something to help get things started.
Don’t spend a lot of time getting too detailed. Focus on really large items and general categories.
Doing a bit of quick decision making now will save lots of time and mental energy when you actually start cleaning. There is a reason we haven’t gotten rid of this stuff before (beyond general laziness); it is hard to decide what to do with all that stuff! Making as many decisions as possible now keeps it all from becoming quite so overwhelming when you are ready to get your hands dirty.
And also spend a little time thinking about why you want to clear out your basement, garage, or attic. Are you wanting to actually park your cars in your garage? Are you wanting to tun your basement into living space? Do you want to have less stuff tying you down? Or are you just tired of never being able to find things when you actually need them?
Whatever your reason, keep it in mind during this process. It will come in handy whenever you find your motivation waning. It is easy to find a million things you would rather do than clean the basement, but it may be harder to ignore when you think about how nice it is going to be to do laundry without fear of being crushed by falling boxes. (Oh wait, maybe that’s just me.)
Here’s what we have going on in our own basement. (I’m sure there is other stuff that I couldn’t identify because it is currently buried but this is a strong starting point.)
Ok, seeing all of that written down actually makes me really excited to get going on this! I cannot wait to walk down those stairs and see a clean, organized basement.
There is no way I want to be dealing with this mess once spring hits. Come spring I want to be out enjoying the sunshine, not stuck in my crummy basement! Who’s with me? I know I’m not the only one with an overstuffed basement begging for a cleanout!
If you are struggling with your own messy basement, garage, storage building, whatever, I’d love for you to join me in getting it taken care of once and for all!
I’ll be back next week to share the next step – getting started without becoming hopelessly overwhelmed.