10 Basement Storage & Organization Ideas (With Pictures)
Whether you’re just moving in and you find the basement is unfinished or you recently finished renovations, the most common basement foible is not knowing how to efficiently use the space. It’s so easy to just throw stuff in haphazard corners or piles, but that’s just making your life harder for no reason.
Take a breather on your basement escapades because we’ve got some of the most useful tips you need to effectively and neatly organize that dank, cluttered basement. Read on down below to level up your basement storage game and create a space you’re proud to show off.
The 10 Basement Storage & Organization Ideas
1. Tidy Up & Organize
The first thing to do is to throw away everything you don’t need. Do you really need those holiday decorations from last decade? If you haven’t used it in more than a year or two ago and it’s not of sentimental value, throw it away or give it away. You need all the space you can get. Next, move as much as possible to the middle of your basement so you can get a good look at the space and evaluate it during some of the next steps.
While you’re at it, we recommend thoroughly dusting, sweeping/vacuuming, and mopping the basement. Would you rather spend time in a dusty, musty basement or a spotless one? You can use this opportunity to make sure everything’s in good shape as well, from any hooks you have on the wall to the hookups on your washer and dryer. Once you’ve roughly tidied up, it’s time to move on to the next steps.
2. Prioritize Safety
Have an idea of what you’re doing with your basement and what safety considerations are attached. For instance, most fire codes state that basements used as spare bedrooms must have an egress point—that means a window or separate entrance. The other main safety concern is the stairwell, which we suggest putting carpet risers on to boost traction when ascending or descending during all the trips you’re making during your refurbishment/renovations.
Next, you’ll want to assess the basement’s waterproofing by looking for signs of moisture. Search for oddly colored water stains or mold in the corners and moist spots, such as behind your washer or near other water fixtures. Waterproofing your basement can be expensive, but it’s critical to protect your basement from flooding and prevent mold from disfiguring or destroying your stuff. That said, you can still make use of an unfinished basement, but you’ll have to be more mindful of the moisture.
Lastly, search for signs of mice, rats, and other vermin, like cockroaches. Chewed or frayed wires and rat dropping are two dead giveaways.
3. Add Shelving Along the Walls
Most people have a shelf or two in the basement, but take a look at all your wasted horizontal space. You can put shelving on nearly every inch of it. Wall-mounted shelves come in all shapes and sizes, from full-sized cubbies or bookshelves to smaller floating shelves you can use to store knick-knacks, tools, or miscellaneous small items. Think about whether you might need to move things around. If so, freestanding shelves are a great modular choice that takes up a bit more raw square footage as a tradeoff.
Wire shelves are another fantastic storage option, able to bear the weight of power tools or other hefty items. They’re fairly affordable too. Metal shelves are even better but more expensive. Make sure you choose galvanized or other corrosion-resistant materials for metal or wire shelving so the moisture doesn’t rust and damage them over time. Clothes racks are one of the best ways to store clothes, for instance, and they’re typically portable to boot.
4. Take Advantage of Vertical Space
Ceiling hooks are one of the best ways to store bicycles, which take up way more space in your basement otherwise. Don’t stop there, though, as ceiling or wall hooks can be repurposed to fit power tools, workout equipment, extension cords, sports equipment, and other items you regularly use. Over-the-door racks are a great way to store shoes or kitchen supplies like utensils, but they work well for fasteners and nearly other small items as well.
Another creative option is to invest in tension rods like those in your shower and use them to set up hanging storage systems where you have the extra space. Rods like these can be used as a cheap way to store lots of clothes, Christmas lights, or other easily drapable objects.
5. Make Use of Boxes & Totes
Boxes are a storage staple for good reason: they’re cheap, stackable, and hold up reasonably well over time if your basement is properly waterproofed. Clothes, books, toys, and seasonal items are some popular items to store in boxes, but the beauty of boxes is that you can store nearly anything in them.
Before storing items in a box long-term, however, make sure the box is in good condition and that it won’t fall apart. You can reinforce flimsy boxes with some packing or duct tape, but it’s really better to just find stronger boxes. Boxes also tend to warp or break down in unfinished basements.
Plastic storage totes are a better option for long-term storage. Opt for the clear airtight variety with tight-fitting lids since they make it easy to tell what’s what at a glance while keeping out all outside moisture, dust, dirt, and other contaminants. As a bonus, they come in a wide variety of stackable shapes and sizes so you can choose the perfect choice for your basement.
6. Protect Your Basement Furniture
Storing furniture in a basement is a great way to keep it out of the way and in good condition for years to come, but avoid storing wicker or bamboo in basements. They’re very easily damaged by moisture, so just don’t take the chance. Otherwise, make sure the furniture you’re storing is 100% clean and dry before taking it to the basement. Moisture on the furniture can attract mold, so wipe it down with a clean dry cloth first.
Long-term, you should cover furniture to protect it from dust, debris, moisture, and other environmental hazards. Painter’s plastic works great here, but you can also use tarps or blankets in a pinch. If flooding is a concern, you can also elevate your furniture on cinder blocks or pallets. That’ll keep it from scuffing the floor, too. Finally, for antique wooden furniture, we recommend climate control to keep the humidity down, because basements run a little moist even when well-maintained.
7. Label Everything
If you’re out of labels or sticky notes, plain painter’s tape, and a pen/Sharpie work wonders for labeling stuff around the house, especially in basement storage. Identify belongings based on room, owner, product types, or whatever makes sense for the specific area you’re storing items. For instance, tiny cups filled with screws or nails deserve labels. Never guess which are ⅜” or ½” again.
Be as specific as possible when labeling. For example, instead of baby clothes, try “Girl 6-9M Clothes” or “Newborn Clothes.” If you want to go the extra mile, label the date you stored the item so you can tell what’s old at a glance and check in on the items from time to time.
8. Consider Built-in Storage
Budget and space permitting, you can have built-in storage solutions installed in your basement. Built-in cabinets can store power tools, car accessories, cleaning chemicals, and that sort of thing, and there are even freestanding cabinets for when portability is a concern. Built-in storage shelves take a bit of square footage, yes, but they’re a more sleek and convenient way to store your bits and bobs.
Our favorite built-in storage solution for basements is storage benches, which do double duty as clean-cut seating and storage. They work like ottomans, lifting up when you need to access the items within. Sizes range from small shelves too shallow to sit on, all the way to full-blown wall couches you can put cushions on. Simply remove your furnishings when you need to get your stored items and forget about them the rest of the time. Built-in storage works best with fully waterproofed basements, especially if you’re keen on wood furnishings to create a warmer atmosphere.
9. Learn to Love Pegboards
If you’re not a pegboard fan, it’s time to start. Pegboards are a garage and basement staple, offering easy access to a lot of disparate small items without taking up any floor space. Even better, you can use them to make those blank stairwell walls store small items you use frequently. That frees up valuable space elsewhere in the basement and helps save you time rummaging on those occasions you just need a hammer or drill really quick.
You might already love pegboards for stuff like craft supplies, but they really shine for tools when you order a custom-made shadow board. These specially made pegboards have handy silhouettes of all your tools, making tool misplacement a thing of the past. They look really snazzy too!
10. Take a Look at Foldaway Furniture
When space is at a premium, you have to make compromises sometimes. Folding furniture fills that gap beautifully, especially if you use your basement for crafts or DIY work. Foldable workbenches and tabletops add both storage space and worktop space for any possible task, whether you’re doing woodwork, sewing, or school projects. These often come in built-in varieties, but there are lots of portable workbenches with storage included you can put in to add multiple dimensions of usefulness.
Basements don’t have to be dank and desolate storage spaces you dread going into. Using the power of hooks, shelves, boxes, totes, and labels, anyone can turn the tiniest or hugest basement into a neatly organized space with everything in its place.
Featured Image Credit: Robert Kneschke, Shutterstock