Monday, February 27, 2012

Basement in Baby Steps

Our house came with a full, yet unfinished basement.  Often we begin storing things we no longer need or use down there: baby crib, bassinet, toys, etc.  Added to the once a year items like large kitchen pots and pans, holiday decorations, and old furniture are a myriad of other items too good to throw away.  Eventually, the place become a junkyard.

I'm not ready to tackle the basement yet.  I have too many projects above ground that need either finishing or tackling before I can begin down there.  But I put a dent into some of the clutter last week.  As I've just begun doing tablescapes and needed a place to store the dishes and glassware that's begun to accumulate, I thought I'd use shelving to get some of the stuff off the floor.

This was my first attempt.

During my college days, when we moved out of the dorms and into apartments we bought used furniture and called upon some of our old girl scout training -- improvise and use what you have.  Practically every apartment had a bookcase and desk made of cinder blocks or saw horses and boards.  I thought I could do this again.  After all it is an unfinished basement and I only want to control clutter.  I already had the boards in the form of thirteen doors.  These used to be the entrances into the rooms on the first and second levels of the house.  When I replaced them, I kept the old doors to use when I eventually get to that basement.

In the meantime, I thought I could use them as shelves.  They don't work well.  They aren't the right height and I was too afraid to stack cinder blocks.  So I sprang for new open metal shelving.  I bought three of these from Ace Hardware ($39.99 with free shipping to store).  Each shelf will hold 350 pounds.  I read that twice before ordering to make sure it said each shelf and not all the shelves.  I've also discovered that I don't have 350 pounds for these.  Maybe when I get to the books I own, but for storage of occasion use items 350 pounds is over the limit.  Still I'm glad to have it.  There's no telling what the future will bring.

I originally wanted the 5-shelf unit, but I'm glad I got the four because the section of the basement I was clearing has pipes along the ceiling and cut down on the height.  If I'd used the 5-shelves, I'd have lost space because I'd have to pull them out into the room to clear the pipes.  That creates a hazard for thing falling off as I reach for something on the shelf.  All-in-all the universe was working for me.  In other areas of the basement, I'll be able to use the taller units.  As an FYI, I also found the same shelves, the 5-unit ones, in Target for $49.99.

One great feature of these shelves -- NO TOOLS REQUIRED.  And I mean absolutely NONE.

I opened box one and pulled out the instructions.  Yep, I read everything because it usually saves time.  Then I checked to make sure all the required pieces were in the box, even counting any screws, nuts, bolts or connectors

In this case there were no screws, nuts, or bolts.  Only connectors which snapped together.


The instructions said to put it together on a soft surface like carpeting.  As I have hardwood floors, I pulled the afgan off the sofa and threw it on the floor.  However, I discovered that using the box the unit came in was better since it did not slip around and was the right size.

The poles have notches in them about an inch apart.  You can choose where to place the shelves.

I placed the first one on the bottom and worked my way up.  The instructions said you should have two people to help with stability, but I did it alone and had no problem.  The connectors snap around the pole and them you put the shelf over the top of all four poles and push it down to the connector.  The first one is a little wobbly because of trying to control four poles and a shelf, yet I did it on the first try.

After that, it went fast.  It took 20-30 minutes to put one together.  Definitely would take longer with screws.

Th shelves helped to store some items that resided on the floor.  The fragile holiday decorations were the easiest to reach and got the second shelving unit.

I was unsure what to choose next.  I tried to save the third shelf for the dishes that are currently residing on a perfectly good ping-pong table that had been used for ping-pong only a few times before it became a storage unit.

While there are still miles to go before I sleep, as least I can get to the shelves now.  There are still boxes on the floor that need a place, but I've arranged them into things I can sell on Craigslist, things to throw out (trash can was full) and things that still need shelving.

It looks so much lighter and brighter with only a tiny section of the basement cleared.  In my head I'm already designing the space.  But for right now, it's back to the living area of the house to finish my current work in progress.


  1. Back to the hardware stores for more shelves. It's amazing how good those Christmas decorations look. The containers make them decorative even in the off season.

  2. They do. Wait until I get a place for the rest of the decorations.

  3. This is a great make-over. Tablescaping can be messy (and it can create clutter in an instant), but your shelves will make it simple. I use Dollar Store plastic dish pans to tote the stuff back and forth. We bought metal shelves at K-Mart a few years ago, and after seeing this post, I'm going back for more. By the way, I love your wood floor in your living room.