This has been a crazy weekend for getting some things done for the One Room Challenge.  Last week I shared that we are going to be totally making over our basement.  We want to make this space more functional, instead of a dumping ground for all of our unwanted things.

So, I had to start by going through all those unwanted things that were lurking in the basement.  The basement is a rather large space with some really old built-in shelves, and a Murphy bed along one of the walls.  We have a large TV and TV stand that housed our old DVDs.  Funny thing is we don’t have a DVD player any more… So not totally sure why we have tons of DVDs.  But isn’t that always the case with basements?!?!

Basement Before 2

We had a wet bar that was smack in the middle of the basement.  We removed the bar a few years ago, but ended up leaving the back part of the bar to use for storage.  That space just ended up being a dumping ground for unwanted books, toys, and other things.  It also stored all out paint for the entire house, which is really helpful, except we can barely open the doors…

As I started to look around the basement, I could feel myself start to get overwhelmed.  This is a massive project.  Would I be able to clear everything out so we can revamp the space?  Well, you have to start somewhere, so I decided to start with all the books, because we have large piles of books all over the basement.  I also think that books are an easy way to ease yourself into organizing and decluttering your things.

Gathering All Books

I pulled all the books from the basement.  But, seeing that pile made me realize that I should just go through ALL the books in the entire house.  Seriously… which means that I found Every.Single.Book we have in the entire house.  And made a gigantic pile in our living room/entry way.

I went through each and every book we owned.  Picking up each book, I decided if I really needed to keep it.  Surprisingly, there are a lot of books that I don’t think I will ever read again.  And, if I decide I want to read that book again, I will probably download it to my iBooks on my phone/iPad.  But, the likelihood of me actually reading the majority of the books that we currently have is rather slim.

I started my donate pile, which grew quickly.  I only kept books that I love (like Harry Potter), or books that looked pretty.  I am planning on using the pretty books for decorating purposes!  I think it’s best to get rid of books that aren’t special so someone else could enjoy the stories.

Kids Reading Books

I encouraged the kids to help so they could have a say as to which books we would be keeping and which books we would be donating to a local donation center.  It was surprising to see which books they ended up wanting to keep.  They knew which books they had outgrown!

Then, we put all the books we are keeping away and donated the rest.  It was such a liberating feeling once all the books were out of the basement.  I could see some of the shelves.  There was some open space!  This feeling made me want to conquer the rest of the space.  So, when the kids went down for naps, I started to declutter the toys.

I gathered all the toys and started to sort Every.Single.Toy.  Seriously, I took the toys from the play room, the basement, our bedroom, and the kids’ rooms.  The majority of the toys in the basement are toys the kids have outgrown.  That makes it really easy to donate!!  I just had a hard time giving away the baby toys.  But, as I started to get rid of some things, it started to get easier to start donating more and more toys that the kids didn’t play with anymore.  (More on this topic later!)

Basement During Sorting

I was totally exhausted, but was starting to feel much lighter.  I went through some of our decorating and storage containers that were not being used.  I asked myself why I wasn’t using them.  I realized that most of the decorating and storage things I was holding on to were because I thought I could use them “one day”.  Well, “one day” hadn’t come in over a year, so if they didn’t have a home now, they were probably not going to have a home anywhere.  That means that they needed to go.

I also found some really old photos in frames that I had forgotten I put in the basement last year when we were thinking about selling our home.  I didn’t realize that they ended up in the basement.  I went through the photos and found some great frames that I could use.  But I need some new, updated pictures to put in the frames, because the kids have changed so much in just one year!

Messy Basement

Now I am left with toys the kids actually play with; board games we actually use; books we want to read; photo albums we can actually see; and pictures that had come out of hiding.

My next plan of attack is to rearrange the furniture so that it opens up the space and rework the old built-in shelves.  The problem with the shelves is that they are rather deep, making things easy to be forgotten if they are hidden behind a bin or book.

My solution to this problem is to build shelves that are not as deep, but still as functional.  We will be removing all the old shelves, patching any holes, repainting, and creating shelves that aren’t as deep.  By using the entire space to create storage and play space, I will be able to create function and style.

Clearing The Clutter One Room Challenge

I cannot wait to get painting and decorating!  Follow along on Instagram for some behind-the-scenes updates!

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About The Organized Mama

My name is Jessica and I am the founder and creative director of The Organized Mama, a professional organizing firm and blog. I was born and raised in Minnesota and currently live in Illinois. I graduated Indiana University with a degree in elementary education. My passion is teaching others how to live an organized life. I am a certified professional organizer with the National Association of Productivity and Organizational Professionals (NAPO).

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