Going From Flood to Fabulous (At Least For A Basement…)

Not that anyone’s keeping track, but this past week we finished the last of our Hurricane Sandy putting-life-back-in-order list.  I’ll save you the counting, that’s 2.5 months.

Before I write another sentence, all of you readers need to raise your right hand and repeat after me: I [say your name] promise that if I can’t say anything nice about this space, I won’t say anything at all.  I will remember that everyone has clutter and crap. And this is a very very old house with no other storage besides the basement. 



Our basement.  Ground zero for the wrath of Sandy.  This was how it looked when we evacuated; we brought up everything important below the 4 foot mark and tried to move everything else to higher ground.  (During Irene- the biggest storm to date at the time- we got about 12 inches in our basement so we felt like 4 feet was reasonable given the time constraint.)


This was our basement about 6 hours after Sandy rolled through (so the water had already come down a couple of feet).  We were 45 minutes away so Mark drove home as soon as the weather had moved through.


As I mentioned here, we had an amazingly kind and dedicated team of folks helping us pump water, replace electric panels, dispose of flood damaged stuff, etc.  So within a few weeks, the basement was cleared out and empty.  I forgot to take pictures…bummer.  We considered really tackling the empty space by repainting the floor, painting walls, etc. but we have plans to move the washer dryer and create more storage so eventually the basement won’t see as much action as it does now.  Here’s the high water documentation made for the insurance company.



At this point, I did an organizational happy dance and moved all the stuff that had been in our dining room back down into the basement.  Which brings me to our weekend.  The basement clutter pile was fast growing because we didn’t have any shelves or ways to make sense of all our stuff.  It looked like this.


We had some of these shelves from Ikea in the city and loved the cost, simplicity, and relative sturdiness of them.  The basement walls are oooold brick so we wanted to avoid anything that required drilling or mounting so any built in solution was out.  Also too expensive.


Before I started, I tried to consider what we were storing downstairs and why.  In general, the things in the basement are:

  • The kids clothes: I go in and out of these boxes too frequently to move them above the garage.
  • My old school files: these could go to the garage, but the movers brought them down here and that’s just where they’ve been ever since… although now that I’m typing… we should have put them above the garage when they were already in the dining room.  Duh.
  • Excess bulk food
  • Duplicate dishes/ china.  Since we had an apt. in the city, there are 2 sets of everything.  I’ve also been given holiday dishes and a set of old formal china that gets used on special occasions.
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Spray paint
  • Craft supplies like my fabric and yarn
  • Winter coats that don’t get enough use to take up space in our tiny ‘front hall’ closet
  • Tote bags and duffel bags
  • Other misc. stuff
  • (I’ve also decided to move our vases downstairs to free up a shelf in what is fast becoming the kids’ craft closet.)

The kids clothes are in tupperware containers and labeled by size and gender.  They stack nicely against the side wall.


All of my files are up on risers along the back wall.


Cleaning supplies and bulk food are closest to the stairs to allow for easy access.


Spray paint is on it’s own shelf along with other tools that I’m likely to use in the basement: sander, jigsaw, etc.  I’ll get some baskets for the smaller loose items.



Dishes go on a smaller version of this sturdy shelf I picked up at Home Depot.


The extra coats are on a hanging rack. I’m sure the basement isn’t the best environment for them, but until we do a little more work to the house, there aren’t any other great options.  Despite the water that we get, it’s not a musty space… maybe because it’s salt water and is constantly pumped out via the sump?  Who knows, but so far they seem okay down there.


We had this Ikea Trofast toy system in the kids’ room, but when Oliver got his big boy bed, there just wasn’t room so out it went.  It retails for about $35 so I figured it made more sense to use it as basement storage than it did to Craigslist it.  Now I’m using it to hold toys that the kids don’t play with regularly or have outgrown but Martha will like eventually.


The laundry area is the same as it was before, just with a shiny new washer and dryer.  That piece of wood you saw floating in the background of the flood picture?  That’s the platform underneath the washer/ dryer.  Yeah… water’s that powerful.


I have an inexpensive all weather carpet just to make the floor seem a little cozier but also to keep clothes clean when they slip out during the shift from washer to dryer.  The table to the right of the dryer is just from Bed Bath and Beyond but it’s a nice surface for laundry supplies, etc.  I never fold downstairs since it’s depressing, but that table could be great for that one day.  For sorting, I have extra laundry baskets. It’s pretty typical to find baskets and baskets of stuff waiting to be folded (I hate folding).


Oh, to keep those straight, I just made some quicky labels and laminated them so I can use a clothes pin to indicate whether each load is clean or dirty.


So it may be the most depressing ‘house tour’ of the year, but compared to what it used to look like, I’m grinning ear to ear.  Next step is to bring in more containers and to better conceal all the ‘stuff.’  You know how you don’t see your own clutter?  Well clearly that’s the case here…  I’m just thrilled to have shelves and containers and to see the gray concrete floor again!







Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s