Tuesday, February 28, 2012

29 Day Organizing Challenge: The Basement's Big Reveal

Wanna see?

I'm so excited to show you.

(Links to previous posts in the series at the bottom.)

At the beginning of the month, this greeted me at the bottom of the basement stairs:

to the left:

For full horrific effect, (and because I have no shame) here's a close up of the same area, standing directly in front of it.

Behind this area, in front of the all of curtains is a great old 8 foot lunch room bench. At the beginning of February, the bench looked like this:

Now we're back at the bottom of the stairs and looking to the right:

And, again, standing in front of this mess:

Today, this greets me:

to the left:

In front:

The bench makes such a great sorting area that it was piled until just moments before its beauty shot. Keeping this cleared is a challenge.

Back to the bottom of the stairs and looking right:

In front:

Boom da da boom!


I moved out a bunch of crap, moved in a dresser and switched the recumbant bike with the table. Oh-- and made dart throwing more interesting!

1. What space did you decide to organize and why?

I decided to organize an area in my basement directly at the bottom of the stairs.

The part labelled: "Area of Utter Chaos."

It is usually the place where things go to die--or at least wait until they can be rehabilitated. There's nothing wrong with that: but it was time to actually deal with it all. In the before pictures are two chairs, one waiting for a decision whether to be reupholstered or let go, the other to be fixed. There's a lamp waiting to be spray painted. There are also ceiling planks being painted for our bathroom. You catch my drift...

I wanted to make the area more functional for continuing to do home decor projects. I also thought I might attempt to do some scrapbooking and sewing too, once it is a bit warmer down here!

2. What steps did you take to ensure you completed the space within the 29 day timeline?

I doubt I would have completed the project without the structure of the weekly updates. After one session the day after I decided to tackle the basement, I didn't go back downstairs until the day before I was supposed to do an update. That pattern continued. Posting kept me accountable. It worked out really well for me.

3. What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and how did you overcome it?
I had several boxes of the kids' artwork and memorabilia to sort through. I still do.

4. What did you do with the “stuff” you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?
I managed to sell some of it: most noticeably that large, nasty punching bag. What a relief that was! However, a lot of the other stuff I've decided to sell is still sitting in my dining room, unfortunately. Still, I managed to fill up my donation station. It's just around the corner in the laundry room.

It made quite the hefty bag! Sadly, a lot was trashed too--including two old rugs which had been on the floor.

5. Tell me one of your proudest moments during this challenge?

Strange but true...

Deciding to sell stuff.
In the past, I have always donated my things because I didn't want "the hassle" of trying to sell it. But, as I came across various items, I asked myself: could I part with this if I got some money for it? And in many, many cases, the answer was, "Yes!" The punching bag sold in a matter of days: other items have not been so quick. I am contemplating having a garage sale when that season gets underway (in May or June.) And I hate garage sales!

There were other benefits, too: I'll have a post tomorrow about all the projects which got done as a result of focussing on this area. In short, I've a "new" bathroom ceiling, two more chairs in the living room, and an expanded media cabinet: just to name a few.

6. Explain any organizing “tools” you used to help you create additional space and to establish some limits and boundaries?

Oddly enough, the drawers in the pine dresser already in the basement were not being used for anything except outdated toys. Once they were emptied out, they made ideal "containers" for my various scrapbooking and art supplies.

While I worked, I unearthed quite a few plastic containers, baskets, and tins, emptied them out and repurposed them.

As well, I took a storage unit I had been going to give away and put it to use. It now holds my spray paint collection. I hadn't realised it had got so big!

As far as establishing limits and boundaries go, I was dealing primarily with my scrapbooking supplies. For several years now, I have been packing up what I need and taking it upstairs to use. Thus, I know exactly what I use and what I don't. I know I won't need to go beyond these drawers and this pine unit for a long, long time.

I am so pleased to have access to them again.

I had exactly zero dollars in my budget for this organizing effort--and for the first time, I think this project came in right on budget.

7. What is ONE piece of advice you’d give to someone else to encourage them on their organizational journey?

Never give up! This is probably the third or fourth time I have tackled my basement in the fifteen years we have lived here. It gets easier and lasts longer every time. Space changes, the needs you have change--and you change. I have been decluttering my house regularily for a long time. I surprised myself. Happily, I was able to decide to let go of a lot more than I'd ever thought possible. Bonus, it only took a few hours each week.

Thanks so much for the challenge, Org Junkie!

Linking to the wrap up party.

Previous Posts:
Declaring My Intention
The All Important Planning Session
Week 1: Picking the Low Hanging Fruit
Week 1: Progress Report: Emptying Binders
Week 2: Sold! The Lightbulb Goes On
Week 2: Progress Report: Unearthing the Artwork and Memorabilia
Week 3: Progress Report: Cleaning Out the Chemical Cabinet


Mella DP said...

These may be the most inspirational photos of a basement I've ever seen. Very good work, Alana!

Sallie said...

What an amazing job! I'm sure it was a lot of hard work, but it looks like it paid off. You should be super proud!

Carol-Anne (Use the Good Dishes!) said...

What a huge accomplishment! Looks just amazing! And I love how you've tackled the small areas, bit by bit, of a big space.

Laura said...

It feels great doesn't it!

Stacey Lanier said...

You've got a lot of stuff in there and it looks so clear now! Great job!

Sandi King-Gault said...

Great job. It looks inviting now. It is wonderful that you are aware of your weakness in keeping the bench clutter free. I think that is half the battle.

Shonda said...

Truly remarkable. You took on a HUGE project! I'm impressed.

Anne At Large said...

This is great, I love seeing the process and this system clearly works really well for you. Congrats on a new useful room!

hsmominmo said...

Making good use of what you have available - excellent!

onshore said...

Wow, You've done so much! It truly looks functional. I love that the exercise bike is bit on the side, so it's not as obvious.

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