Basements offer nooks and crannies where stuff can be stored - out of sight and out of mind. Strangely, stuff seems to multiply in dark spaces, making basement downsizing even more challenging.

“Where do I begin?” is the question we hear most often. The answer: “Start small. Start now.”

In basements, there’s a variety of items that need to be sorted, edited and stored. Out-of-season clothes, holiday decorations, overflow items from the kitchen, hobby materials, sports equipment, tools, toys to be fixed and shoes waiting to be polished, they all find their way to the basement.

Begin organizing efforts in the space that causes you the most grief! Why not start at the bottom of the stairs and work towards the back of the house. Then, each time you go downstairs, you can congratulate yourself on the progress you have made.

Equipment for the task is simple. A few plastic bags (black for garbage + colored for donation), three good-sized boxes or baskets (PITCH -- PATCH -- PUT AWAY) and you’re good to go.

PITCH  If you haven’t used it in a year, or it’s broken beyond repair or you just don’t like it anymore, pitch it. Pitching doesn’t mean throwing things away. It means, donating to charity, selling online or disposing of toxic materials, like outdated electronics and expired medications at the Hazardous Waste site in your municipality. When you think PITCH, think Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

PATCH – These items are useful, but they may be broken and need repair. Ask yourself… is it worth the time and money to bring it back to life? If the answer is YES, schedule time to fix it yourself or take it to someone to repair.

PUT AWAY – These are items have found their way into the basement, but they belong somewhere else. Think “a place for everything and everything in its place”. Often storage spaces are already overflowing, so resist the urge to start organizing another space. Save it for another day!

When you are organizing any space in your home, select a small area – bookcase, closet, drawer -- organize it and then move to another small area and lighten-up!

When you store “like with like” and “find a place for everything and keep everything in its place”, you’re applying basic organizing principles that work!

Karen Shinn

Karen Shinn

Downsizing Diva Co-Founder. Toronto East & North York

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