Although basements can be extremely useful, in terms of providing storage space and work area, many homeowners don't take full advantage of it.
Sooner or later, the following statement applies to nearly everone: Unless an organizing system is put into place -- preferably within the first year of moving in -- your basement will begin to take on the appearance of a junk repository!
When your belongings are haphazardly heaped together, it not only becomes difficult to find things you want and need, but items you've cast aside gradually occupy more and more of your valuable space.
The ideal scenario -- from a storage standpoint -- is to buy a house that already comes with built-in shelving and cabinets in the basement. A feature that's almost as good is when the previous owner took the time to set up (and leave for you) enough metal shelving in the basement to meet your storage needs. Although metal shelving doesn't have a lot of eye appeal, it is extremely sturdy and functional.
Cost Effective Solutions
If aesthetics and functionality are what you're looking for, consider these ideas: 1) picking up bargains on shelving, cabinets, and other cheap furniture at garage sales. 2) hiring a reasonably priced carpenter to custom-build some nice shelving and cabinets in your basement.
Of course, if you happen to be handy with a hammer and saw, yourself, then building your own storage shelves might be a satisfying (and money saving) weekend project. However, if your carpentry skills are a bit on the "marginal" side, it would probably be worth it to find a reasonably priced and competent craftsman! Asking friends, relatives, and neighbors for recommendations can often yield the name of the perfect -- and often affordable -- person for the job.
Basement Organizing Tips
Once your shelving is in place, you might want to purchase some inexpensive bins, baskets, or boxes to neatly store you belongings, seasonal supplies, and items you're not exactly sure what to do with. Labeling all containers will improve efficiency and help you avoid frustration down the road.
Designating a section of your basement for hand-me-downs, future garage sale items, and/or charitable donations will make it easier to categorize and move things out when the time comes. Another aspect of keeping your basement organized and free of clutter is to consider throwing away items that are obsolete, irreparably broken, damaged, or incomplete. While "one man's junk is another man's treasure", some things are simply of no value to anyone! For items that fall into that category, the choice usually boils down to one of three options: restore it, recycle it, or have it professionally disposed of.
A well organized basement can potentially be a good place to store things you want to save, protect, and keep in good condition for future use. Preserving anything that's delicate, valuable, or easily damaged requires a lot of safeguards, including -- but not limited to -- keeping them adequately covered, sometimes in airtight containers, and maintaining a dry, climate-controlled environment. Relatively humidity should be carefully monitored and, in most cases, maintained between 30% and 50%. When moisture in the air approaches 60%, mold and mildew tend to thrive.