This is a common catch all. If we don’t know where to keep it, the answer is often “Just put it in the basement.”….. I loathe those words. I’m a bit joking but mostly serious. The more you put in the basement the more readily stuff is forgotten, piles up and takes up space. Then organizing the basement is a huge undertaking on a future date because a third of its contents shouldn’t be there.

Shoving things downstairs also can be a huge waste. I often come across old baby items, when the kids are now in college. Those products are too expired and useless after fifteen years in the basement. Other times its items that could have been used but were forgotten. Clothes or shoes that were waiting for your kids to grow into them were never worn and are now too small. Bins and containers full of holiday décor often get pushed aside. Most people don’t pull out every last Christmas box and decorate with all of their stuff. A third or half of it never sees the light of day. What a waste. Just let it go and let someone else benefit.

Furniture projects also get stacked up in the corner. Broken bed posts, old chairs, and tables that were kept in hopes of refinishing them or repurposing them never get completed. I’ll never forget last summer I  was working with a dad and husband going through a very dirty basement getting rid of lots of things. At one point he was holding a blender or small appliance (I can’t remember) that literally costs $15-20 in the store. He was arguing to keep it for his young daughter one day when she moves out and gets her own apartment. I said, “Absolutely not. By that time, I’ll give you $20 if you need to go buy another one. It’s not worth keeping all those years.” He started laughing because he realized how silly he was being.

So consider three rules of thumb next time you say, “Just put it in the basement.”

  1. Be selective what you store down there. As you put things down in the basement consider if their use or length of usable time will expire. Also consider how heavy and cumbersome the item is. Do you want to have to move it twice?
  2. Give yourself a deadline. If you haven’t gotten to the project you promised yourself or if you are using the basement as temporary storage, think twice and put a time frame on the calendar.
  3. If you’re not pulling the item out at least once a year to use it, ditch it. I can see if you have a huge Fourth of July party once a year when you use entertaining pieces or yard décor, but if you stop having those parties, the item goes out. Next time you pull out your holiday bins, if you don’t decorate with all of the contents there’s a reason you don’t and that’s the very same reason that should propel you to downsize your holiday décor and donate it.
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