This week has been all about cleaning and organizing, so it’s only fair that I take this opportunity to own up to the most unclean, unorganized space in our house (perhaps ever in our whole lives). The horror lies behind this door, in my basement workshop:
Just like our first house, we have a separate entry basement that you access from a door in the back yard. Except in this house, I’ve avoided showing this space the entire 16 months that we’ve lived here. Yes, it has been kept completely off camera and video – which is almost unheard of for over-sharers like us. Why? Because I’m embarrassed to my core about its state. I’ve been meaning to tackle it for a while. But a while has turned into a while longer. So I’m finally forcing myself into action by showing it in all of its glory, er, gory. Feel free to play this video while I hide my face in my hands.
For those who can’t watch the video (or couldn’t take more than the first 15 seconds or so), here’s the mess you missed. Although for some reason it doesn’t look as bad in the pics. The video is the real deal. Haha. It still looks pretty bad though…
As I said on camera, I blame the whole thing on these pallets that the previous owners left in the yard and I dragged inside when making our living room console table last April. I guess the pallet scrap invited me to add other leftover wood to the pile, all awaiting some future time in which it’ll all be “taken care of.”
Well, it hasn’t been taken care of. And instead the mess in one corner gradually made me care less about keeping the rest of it clean. So the whole space has kind of deteriorated into one big cluttered, dirty, slobfest.
So here’s my vow to clean and organize the workshop. It won’t take a day, or even a week, but I’m vowing to make a plan, put it into action, and keep you guys posted. After all, it’s a pretty useful space for us – mainly as storage (tools, yard stuff, etc) and it also makes a great work space. But it hasn’t been serving either function very well with all of this junk in my way.
Here’s my rough plan of attack (feel free to tackle a garage, basement, or attic right along with me if you’d like):
- Pare down and organize my scrap pile: I like having spare wood around, but not this much. I’ve been trying to figure out a better solution than just throwing it away, but haven’t settled on one yet (a lot is too small to sell or donate according to the calls I’ve made – so maybe I’ll freecycle what I don’t think I’ll need for future projects).
- Take everything out and clean things from top to bottom: Part of the reason the floor and workbench are covered in a confetti of sawdust is that it’s hard to sweep around all of this stuff. I figure if I get everything out, I’ll have no excuse. Plus it makes the next step easier.
- Bring back in only what I need: And hopefully organize it as it all comes back in, grouping like items and placing things in zones that actually make sense to keep things functional.
- Sell / donate / dispose of what’s not needed: We’re guessing there will be a fair amount of items leaving for good. And of course if we craigslist or freecycle anything we’ll post the link for any interested locals.
By the end of it all I’m not looking to have some giant, decorated makeover – just a clean workable room that functions for all the building and staining and spraying and sawing and storing that we’d love to use it for. Though I wouldn’t hate it if it turned into a little bit of a man cave. Just sayin’…
Okay, now make me feel better. Who else has (or at least had) a shamefully messy space in their house? This is a no judgement zone. At least I hope it is. If not, I’m sure I’m getting crazy judged right now. Yikes.
Our basement looks exactly like that, saw and all :) We’ll get to it eventually!
[email protected] says
My spare bedroom is unsightly. It is beyond messy. You name it, it’s in there. Except food, I draw the line there. I keep saying I’m gonna get to it but I just keep sticking things in there. The thing is I’ve never been like before this house because I’ve never had a space where I could just stick stuff. I’ve had to maximize every square inch of my previous homes and now I find with a bigger home I am having a harder time with organizing. Can it be that it was easier with a smaller space?
We totally know what you mean! In our tiny NYC apartments, everything had its place and there wasn’t one thing we didn’t need (clutter = the enemy) but as homes get bigger those rooms you’ll use later (ex: a bedroom for our future second child) can become a total disaster! And we’ve never been good at the garage/basement organization thing! I think since they feel a little detached they slowly just fall of the clean wagon. Haha.
Kristen @ Popcorn on the Stove says
Our 2nd bedroom is the same way. No matter how often we clear everything out of it, it’s inevitably where we drop things we’re not sure where to put so we can “get to them later” (and later never actually happens). We’re now storing some of my sister in law’s fine china and a few pieces of her furniture so that definitely doesn’t help out mess out at all! One day it’ll be clean… one day…
Our sunroom, which we dream of making our diningroom, is the same way. Everything and it’s mother is in there. It has become a dumping ground *hangs head in shame* I never had this much stuff until I had kids.
[email protected] says
Oh man – Good luck! and just remember, when organizing: things always look worse before they get better.
That IS bad… but I think basements have a way of doing that to you… My basement is like a dungeon I run in and out of with my eyes closed while hauling loads of laundry (read: very dangerous).
It may be a conspiracy to keep us from feeling too accomplished. I wouldnt worry too much about it. A messy basement reminds me I’m still human :)
I feel so much better. Our basement and garage (tiny old garage that we don’t park a car in so it serves more the purpose of a shed) look exactly the same! We’ve cleaned and organized it at various times, but then a new project starts and the scraps/mess take over again. Excited to see how you tackle this one. Thanks for the organizing inspiration.
Umm, nice to know you guys are human? Want to come over and take a look at the closet I’m cleaning out today? And the garage I’m hoping to get to this weekend? And I have only two cats to care for, and don’t work a zillion hours a week like you do? And didn’t write a book this year?
And, actually, that basement isn’t all that bad – and it will look great as a workshop/man cave!
Haha, you can totally do it Linda! We’ll be there in spirit! Watching and petting the cats. Haha.
Amy @ this DIY life says
If you saw the loft above our garage, you would breathe a sigh of relief that it’s not yours. I promise. That is what we’re tackling today though because we’re having a garage sale tomorrow…why wouldn’t I procrastinate the messiest place in our house until the very last minute?
and now, we realize you truly are one of us and not some freakishly organized pod family.
Hahahaha- oh yes, we have our organizational challenges (aka: junk spots) like everyone else! Haha.
Our garage makes your basement looke spartan. it is jam packed. there are two narrow little corridors through the junk. It is obscene.
Alyanna, that is exactly what I was thinking about our garage. At least John’s basement looks like he can move around in it. We have a little trail that allows me to get from the door into the house to the washer and dryer. . . Hubby has actually been working on cleaning it out this week. All that is left is for me to go through some storage bins to get rid of what we don’t need and organize what is left. So my plans for Saturday: finish the garage and FINALLY finish refinishing our table for the kitchen.
Don’t feel that bad! We can’t walk into our playroom. Literally can’t step foot in it. It’s packed to the gills with secret book furniture and other stuff that we just can’t pare down. Someday we WILL conquer it!
How’d you get in our garage?! I fear the day our water heater dies.
Ginny @ Goofy Monkeys says
THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing your messy basement. We’re in the early planning stages of a basement renovation and I took a bunch of pics about 2 weeks ago and it looks like yours! Glad to know that we aren’t alone.
Right there with ya, John. Get this, our garage WAS organized…I seriously don’t know what happened. I mean, somehow the Christmas stuff didn’t get put away properly and then the whole thing just…exploded.
As for scrap wood, we just tossed ours on the curb the day before trash pick up and what little didn’t get snatched up was grabbed by the garbage men.
Our basement was a mess too. We moved in 4 years ago and still had boxes of crap! Last winter I finally made my husband clean it with me. We realized most of it went to Goodwill or trash. I love walking down there to do laundry now because it is organized. Everything is in a tote, on a shelf, or stacked up neatly.
Sigh… I have a closet, or two, that look like this, I think our entry one is full of boxes and kid art supplies instead of, ya know… hangers, shoe racks and guest(y) things – I suppose I should get on it and make a list so I don’t feel ashamed when you’re done and I still have a huge mess!
Margaux @ YoungNesters says
Wow, were you in my garage taking these pictures?! Yeah, we have the same problem. Except add 10 huge boxes of childhood memorabilia our parents “lovingly” dropped off for us when we got a house of our own…
Oh, I’m so afraid my parents are about to do that to us!
Our basement is a disaster too – so easy to just keep the door closed and forget it is there! :)
I think everyone has one of those spaces in their home and it’s completely normal. Mine would be my patio, which I have left entirely neglected for nearly two years (I leave the blinds closed so I don’t have to look at it). I was horrified on Wednesday when I heard a construction crew out there and found them knocking down my fence…and they were trying to work around a jungle of 6 foot tall weeds. The shame…(but I’ve vowed to make it my summer project)
My recent organizational task was my bedroom closet, but because I’m a clean freak (sans the patio) and hyper organized as it is, the before and after aren’t that drastic.
Wahoo! Yay for closet cleaning!
Since we don’t have the money to finish our basement yet (we just built last year), I’m ignoring it and pretending it’s perfectly clean and cozy. I want to find some fun theatre seats, though, and make a home theatre down there.
Our basement is also a horrific mess, which I “eventually” plan on organizing. Who knows when that’ll be!
Oh my gosh – I love giant messes like this! It looks like it would be a blast to throw on some gloves and get to work! Good luck – I can’t wait to see your progress!
Sarah…a kindred spirit! I love a good challenge like this and I would so be there with you!
Robin @ our semi organic life says
Better than our basement that needs to be almost empty since it floods often, is not level, has a low ceiling, has mold, full of crickets, slugs, spiders, even a mouse this week, and just plain gross.
I go down for laundry, clean the cat’s litter box and that is it! At least your’s has the potential to be useful and organized!
My garage rivals your basement (only because we don’t have a basement). I had to lend my neighbor some yard tools yesterday and was so ashamed. Although he admitted his is just as bad. When we open the garage door, I feel like I’m in that Tom Hanks movie The Burbs.
Then inside, we have our office/2nd guest room/wedding china & crystal closet/board games/DVDs/gift wrap/cat bed room. Sadly, I’m not exaggerating! :)
that’what basements are for aren’t they. That grass seed you have is the BEST! It makes for a really nice thick lawn and holds up really well to high traffic on the lawn. I love it bt can no longer find it at Lowes :(
Mr. Goodwill Hunting says
Oh my word. Well we all have that dirty little secret.
Well its not a secret anymore.
Mr. Goodwill Hunting
“You can tell THOSE have been ridden recently” HA! I know that feeling exactly. Oh, garage… why can I only slightly see your floor.
Our problem? We got a TON of sawdust from freecycle to use for mulch and to make firestarters, but it was more than we thought there would be, so it’s stored in a kiddie pool in the middle of our garage, and everything else ganged up on us around it.
Yes… I said a kiddie pool full of sawdust. :-( Oh, the shame!
Haha, that actually sounds fun. Like you could hide treasure in it and root around for it. Haha.
Ha ha! I just went in there, realizing the door was open and found my (large) black dog laying quite happily on the top of the kiddie pool of sawdust. He was not pleased about being dusted off and shooed inside.
Hhahaha, too funny!
Not so scary, really….isn’t that what all workshops look like? And worse yet, mine is also my garage! Try to pull two vehicles in that mess!
I know it’s maddening, but thanks for being so normal. We’ve lived here for 8 years, and we’ve cleaned out the garage so many times, and hauled away so much stuff…..and I wonder all the time “Why is there SO MUCH STUFF IN HERE?”
Fun post. You have to laugh.
Our basement is currently a little scary but my BF did his best to tackle the mess. He used our rafters to hold the scrap wood off the floor, by using bigger pieces to hold smaller pieces on top. He also spent an entire Saturday just organizing it after piling everything on his tool bench. We have a pretty big basement so half of it is his man cave, 1/4 is laundry and 1/4 is workshop. The cave is definitely his favorite even though the whole thing scares me (pictured below!). I would love to have a nice painted laundry area one day!
Haha, I love that I-love-my-man-cave grin in that last picture! Priceless.
Jen @ www.migonishome.com says
Our basement is just as bad, John… It actually makes me feel really good to see that your workshop and my husband’s could be disasterous twins together. :)
I swear that could be my husbands workshop! lol
It’s a little bit unorganized, sure, but you have so much space down there! And all of those walls are begging for some shelving (maybe those metal industrial shelves like this for those paint/stain cans? I’m an organizational whiz and my brother has a ridiculous workshop which I helped plan – invite me over and I can have that place looking shiny and new by Monday!
Good luck! I’ve loved this organization week. It’s totally my jam.
Haha, thanks Emily! Love the link to those shelves you shared! Come on over!
LOL! I’m not laughing just at you John, but also because our garage looks very similar to your workshop, and every time my hubby walks into it, he feels overwhelmed and ashamed. It is on our summer project list, to paint it white so that it doesn’t feel so dark, and organize like crazy! All the best with the workshop overhaul. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with, maybe steal a few ideas. :-)
Oh my! My craft room looks just like that, only the girly version. Imagine fabric scraps, ribbon, scrapbook paper, and gift bags strewn everywhere. Good luck, can’t wait to see the basement in all it’s organized glory!
Kara F. says
That’s our garage but we manage to park a car in there AND our entire neighborhood can see it every time we open the door (a little bit smaller than the entire Inter-web, but still embarrassing). You get so much work done – there’s bound to be a mess. Take it slow and steady… you can do it!
Oh the shame!
I always think it’s funny when a “man cave” is literally under ground. I expect animal hides and big wooden clubs.
I think we all have that space somewhere though. I refuse to touch our back shed. It happens.
Although I have to commend you for wanting to clean this up, DO NOT feel bad about this! Basements are the one spot in a house that is okay to be messy, especially with all the projects you guys do! Mine is HORRIFIC and it’s not because I’m so busy doing awesome DIY projects, either :)
Aw thanks Steph! You’re sweet!
Lindsey @ arkadian belle woods says
I am soooo excited about the basement! I’ve been waiting a long time for this :-) Good luck!
Julia @ Chris loves Julia says
Our garage is so messy. So messy! It all started when our basement flooded and we needed to store boxes elsewhere and then it kept adding on and on to the point now where we can’t even park in our TWO CAR garage. Chris has to park in the carport that we were planning on getting rid of. It’s a disgrace and we’re UP for the challenge!
Go Julia and Chris! You can totally do it!
Brandy E says
Thar was my garage as of last week. It looked like something out of hoarders. About 5 free ads on CL later I can walk about in it! Told my husband if he messed it up like it was before, I was going to stop cleaning everything on the grounds of ‘cant beat um, join um’ haha.
Wow- so encouraging to hear how fast you got yours looking better thanks to CL!
I built shelves in my basement out of the old hollow core doors from my house when i replaced them. Seriously, whole doors as gigantic shelves. theyre hollow core so you cant put storage totes full of rocks on them but you could get the scrap wood into a contained area. People are always throwing away hollow core doors too.
Love that tip Sara!
Before we turned it into the nursery, the room was our office/craft area, and attracted SO much junk. My husband called it the “attic staging area”. When we moved the stuff out of it to make the nursery, we moved some of it into the attic, but a lot ended up in the guest room. What a mess!
Then my stepson cleaned and purged his room and a TON of his stuff also ended up in the guest room. Now it’s like an episode of hoarders in there… ick!
I feel your pain! My whole house is like that. LOL I saw something on Ana White’s brag board that someone made to orginize wood scraps that looked like it would fit nicely in your basement. You could use up some of your scraps to make one too:-)
I love that idea! Thanks so much for sending the link!
My spare bedroom & my office have become “catch all” places for extras and things that don’t have a home, and need to be in storage, but with our basement being remodeled and no place for storage at the moment, the spare bedroom and office are closed doors with caution tape over them, it’s awful!!
I feel better seeing this. I’ve had serious self esteem issues after reading about all of your organization systems. I am amazed at 800+ enthusiastic comments on your personal choices for hygiene and cleaning products!?
[email protected] says
My entire house is a disaster right now (we’re moving) so seeing that someone else’s home isn’t all unicorns and organized hair products makes me feel a little bit better.
In other news, basements scare the heckfire out of me. I think it is a result of the movie Home Alone, but I can’t be certain. All I know is that I still to this day avoid my parents’ basement, which is finished and I hear houses the most comfortable couch in the world.
Why yes I am 28 years old, why do you ask?
Haha, that scene in Home Alone is totally scary! Also, I want a train set so I can tape a cardboard cut out to it to look like we’re having fabulous cocktail parties every night.
Sherry – you’ve read ‘If you were here’ right? I just finished the chapter where ORNESTEGA did the drive-by and Mac did that Home Alone trick to make it look like there was someone looking out the window to taunt them.
That book is so funny!
Hahahahah, oh yes I love that book!
Um, my entire house looks like this after being out of town every weekend in April, being in grad school finals/end-of-semester assignments (me), lacrosse playoffs (husby), and working full time (both of us.) And our dog hasn’t chipped in and cleaned up, the nerve of her! =) Your organization week has definitely been inspiration to get things back in order, and in the meantime, take solace in the fact we ALL have one (or more!) of those spaces!
Are you sure you didn’t use a picture of our basement workshop by accident?? Glad to know we aren’t the only ones hiding a secret underground disaster area (nothing to see here, move along)….Good luck in your clean-up adventure!
Haha, I love that we’re basement twins!
Lindsey d. says
My garage looks much the same — minus a lot of wood scraps, but add in a dozen wood windows that I replaced with vinyl last year and a dresser that’s waiting to be transformed into a bathroom vanity. Awful!
Heather @ What Does She Do All Day? says
You ought to see our garage right about now! I have a half painted HUGE dresser in there, a yet to be painted headboard, a mostly painted chair that has a broken seat, lots of cardboard boxes, some 12 packs of soda for the upcoming birthday party, hubby’s water jugs from beer brewing, blah, blah, blah! My car is pretty tired of being parked in the driveway!
Believe me, I’ve seen worse! But as a Home Inspector, I do have to draw your attention to the mower: I can’t tell if it’s gas or electric? If it’s a gas mower, you should NOT be storing it in the basement. It needs to be in the garage, which has fire-rated walls.
If it’s electric, then in the words of the immortal Emily Latella, “Never mind!”
Oh yes, thanks for the tip!
I saw reuse of pallets for a raised vegetable garden on Pinterest recently. It was pretty cool.
We’ll have to check that out!
I just followed you, so you can find it easily.
Aw thanks so much Careen!
Kristi lynn says
We have a cape cod and the entire second floor is a big mess. its just extra space that we haven’t really used yet. Its on my list to get a big makeover very soon.