Adding Some Basement Workshop Organization

Now that we’ve cleared out our backyard’s weed & liriope convention, let’s move on to another area that has been sorely lacking our attention. Yes, let’s spend some time in our basement, shall we? Oh wait – that sounds like an invitation to get murdered or something. Um, let’s just talk about our basement. You may recall that it recently went from a shameful deck-debris-filled no man’s land…

…to a slightly more presentable space thanks to our Bagster rental a few weeks ago.

Well, that Bagster purge and our recent yard sale were the kick in the butt that I’ve needed to finally put some energy into this room. Because honestly, we’ve put ZERO effort into organizing or fixing up this space since moving in nearly two years ago. It’s been kind of a dumping ground. But I guess that first picture gave that away.

We tackled a similar basement in our last house – a small cinder block fortress accessible from a separate exterior door only.

But there are some key differences to these basements – and some lessons that we learned from the last one that will guide how we approach this one. For instance, the last one was kind of a glorified storage space. We didn’t work down there ever (that’s what the garage was for) so some of the effort that we put into “finishing” the room ended up being overkill. Sure it was nice to have the walls and floor painted (and it definitely seemed to help with resale) but we were barely down there to ever enjoy it. It was mostly just where all of our holiday decorations lived in the off-season, which now live in the attic of this house.

This new basement is MUCH more functional because it still serves as a helpful storage space for some things (like paint, unfinished furniture, tools, etc) but in the absence of a garage, it has also become my workshop. And as seen in our Day One post, we inherited some pretty awesome features – shelving, pegboards and even a large built-in work table.

I’ve spent plenty of time working on plenty of projects down here: from the living room console to Clara’s dollhouse. So it’s kind of a shame that I’ve spent so many hours in a space that kind of depresses me (talk about Dude, Get On That).

So I’m putting an end to it. My exact plan of attack is still kind of forming in my brain, but regardless of where I end up – I know the starting point is cleaning and organizing. And to that end, I’ve made it my mission to steal away for a few minutes here and there (mainly during Clara naps or on random Sherry’s-watching-housewives evenings) and I’ve gone through just about every nook and cranny of that room to figure out what should stay and what should most definitely not. Right at the top of the “definitely not” list was a strange collection of items leftover from the old owners. Some things – like the fire extinguisher below – dating back as far as 1984!

How creepy is that pig in the top right? We think he’s an old dog toy. Clara saw it when I brought it up to show Sherry and she was both delighted and impressed by it, but I was scared. Also, among a pile of old yard tools they left for us I found not one, not two, but three axes. I feel like there’s a Mike Meyers movie in there somewhere…

Speaking of yard tools, those were one of the first things that I decided to tackle. I started by taking inventory and seeing if what I had was what I actually needed (what didn’t make that list? Three axes).

This part of the organizing mission was actually before our yard sale, so whatever I didn’t need anymore (i.e. extra rakes) was sold there. And as for where to put the stuff I was keeping, I figured storing the (sometimes dirty) yard stuff far away from my work table was best. And luckily the area that looked like this a few months ago

…now looked like this post Bagster/yard sale.

I zeroed in on that pegboard on the far left as my new yard tool headquarters, which did mean I had to get rid of this old rotting slash bug-eaten shelf that the previous owners left.

Good thing rotting = easy to break apart and toss into the Bagster before it got picked up.

Plus, I discovered the spare section of fence that I’ve been storing since this project fit perfectly into the little recessed nook next to the pegboard (so perfectly that when I wedged it in there it didn’t want to come back out). I did bolt it to the cinder at the top just to be safe though – just so it doesn’t fly down and get me someday after intense hammering or sawing nearby. Even though it’s upside down, I like that the wood texture breaks up the cinder a bit.

But my crowning achievement of this process so far is this baby. Oh yeah. It took me a good hour to figure this out, but it was so worth it. Organizing stuff like this makes my pulse race. And I may have developed a new obsession with pegboards in the process. Seriously, I was walking around for days afterwards looking at things and thinking “ooh, I could put that on my pegboard.” Or “my girlfriend Peggy” as I call her.

But before I get too hot and bothered talking about pegboards, I’ll share another one of my loves in a not-so-lovely storage solution. This is the bike rack from our old basement that is so cramped in this basement that I can barely weasel both bikes onto it (the top one grinds up against our lower ceiling).

So I grabbed two of these heavy duty bike hooks at Home Depot (about $2.50 a piece) and screwed them into one of the exposed beams near my wood fence nook.

MUCH better. Especially since it doesn’t take me 15 minutes to get the bikes on or off like the last solution. Is it hot in here or is it just me? Plus, putting them in the recessed area means the fact that they stick out into the room a bit isn’t a big deal.

And I realized Clara’s bike seat and our bike rack for the car hang nicely on the ledges created by the fence rail. Oh how I love getting things up off of the floor.

I’d love to end with some big beauty shot of the whole room, but there were like five other organization projects going on simultaneously so I’ll be back with more progress as I go. Isn’t it funny that no matter if you’re chipping away at a lawn makeover or a kitchen redo or a basement refresh, it just seems to come down to tackling things in phases? What are you guys doing one step at a time these days? Do pegboards get your pulse racing or is it just me? Hubba hubba.


  1. Katie says

    How’d you decide on the bike seat for Clara? We’ve been debating between a trailer and a seat (front v. back as well).
    And the basement is looking great btw!

    • says

      The Bowers had a similar seat and had great things to say about it. We knew we didn’t want a trailer yet, just because it would take up much more space. And we’re glad we went with the front mounted seat because the rides seem to go much better since I can actually interact with Clara while we ride and we can look at the same scenery together.


  2. Meredith says

    Best post title ever. I hope we can look forward to a “The Sign” or “All That She Wants” subsequent basement posts? Please?

  3. laura says

    You know, Julia Child had pegboard in her kitchen, and her husband traced all of her pots and pans on the board so she would know where to return things once she was done using them! I think that might be a nice look for your girlfriend Peggy! ;-)

  4. says

    What a great improvement! The previous owners of our house also left a bunch of pegboards in the basement and they are such amazing storage solutions for so many different types of things.

    Are you going to share the deets of the first stop of your book tour???

    • says

      Yes! We have so many photos and things to go through, but within a few days we’ll spill all the deets! It was so much fun. Let’s just say midwesterners are hilarious and sweet.


  5. Katie says

    Ahhh, much better! The before picture made me all twitchy, I hate having things all over the place. Organization makes me happy. Well done.

  6. says

    It’s funny that you guys posted this today because we just tackled our garage with this same philosophy this weekend. I too, would love a beauty shot, but at the end of the day, it’s where we work! Plus…Nate did knock over a half a liter of poly last night all over the garage floor and now the whole house not only smells, but there’s an ugly stain on the floor.

    The one thing I HAD to do was paint the pegboards ( and I am actually posting tomorrow about us organizing them.

    Don’t stress out about it pretty. Just have fun with discovering all the stuff you forgot you had!

  7. Jordan says

    Hey John and Sherry…..just curious what you did with all of the furniture in your first home’s basement? thanks!

    • says

      We sold that with the house actually. The new owners really liked it, so we offered that along with some other things as part of the sale (our built in bed, all of the curtains, etc).


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