Tuesday, August 04, 2009

About the stash

I'm going to talk about our basement for a bit.

I'm sure our basement is not unique among homeowners, in that it has become a refuge for junk. Of course it's really supposed to be for storage, you know, for legitimate needs-to-be-stored items like holiday decorations, camping equipment, childhood archives, and baby-gear-that-may-or-may-not-be-needed-again-so-we're-keeping-it-around-until-a-final-decision-is-made. But the reality is that most of the stuff down there? Well, it's just crap. Crap that doesn't have a place to go, because I haven't gotten around to either finding a place for it, or tossing it. (Sadly, there's a lot of this kind of crap all over the rest of the house, too.)

The available basement space is further compromised because for a number of years we've allowed one of my BILs to use it as a storage locker. (I have zero bitterness about this, by the way; he's been in a rough spot and we couldn't help him out by giving him money, so the least we could do was to help out by saving him money by offering free storage.)

When we moved into this house, the original plan was to finish most of the basement: turn most of it into a rec room, some into a bathroom, some into a spare bedroom, the space under the stairs into a storage closet, and do a little finishing of the laundry area too, maybe with some storage cabinets or shelves or something. The alcove outside the coldroom would remain unfinished for additional storage. However, the overhaul of my husband's career some years back threw that plan out the window. The area that would have been bedroom-and-bathroom is now his workshop, and finishing the remaining space is beyond our budget.

And so it has sat for quite some time.

However, once my MIL's estate gets wrapped up, I've been informed that the aforementioned BIL will be taking all his stuff out of our basement. If we can somehow get our act together and winnow all of our own crap enough to fit under the basement stairs and in the alcove off the coldroom, this means that the entire space which was originally going to be a rec room will be clear. This is (at a guess) about a 14'x20' area, so that's rather a big deal. Now, we certainly don't have the money to do drywall, carpet, pot lights, and all the other finishing goodies that I had originally wanted to do. But we could probably swing more (and better) lighting on the ceiling, and maybe some basic flooring. It wouldn't be at all Home and Garden, but it would at least be a functional work/play area. We can move all the furniture out of the workroom to go down there - shelving, desks, worktable, along with various supplies and the family computer - and put the kids' playtent down there, too. And we've got three shelves coming to us from my MIL's house. There's also an additional little area under the short side of the basement stairs that would make a PERFECT "secret room" for the kids; I'd just have to put down some simple fun flooring, improve access and mount a curtain over the opening, maybe put in a mounted flashlight type of thing for light, and let them unleash their imaginations. (I would have killed for such a setup as a child.)

This plan means we'd have a computer-slash-play-slash-craftroom (heck, if we put everything in there and there's still room, we could put a stereo and TV down there, too), and still have some room for storage...not to mention an extra bedroom available upstairs in the bargain. (Last year my grandmother offered me all the furniture from her second bedroom since she wants to redecorate, so, perfect!)

The catch? For this plan to work, I have to get my $#!+ together enough to go through all the crap in the basement.


To that end, this weekend, I began diving through the embarrassing mess of paper that is all over this house. (There's non-paper mess, too, but you have to start somewhere, right?) I am taking a lot of days off work in August, and I am absolutely determined to put a lot of that time to good use making the house more functional.

One very important component of this project is to get better storage for my stash. I want to move it out of cardboard boxes and into something more impenetrable. So this weekend, DD1 and I went shopping, armed with the measurements of the forthcoming shelves (DH wrote them down the last time he was over at my MIL's house helping to get it ready for showing). To my absolute delight, we found a lot of plastic totes for really good prices, which will fit perfectly in the new shelves. We came away with:

  • 5 brown 68L bins, $6.97 each
  • 4 blue 121L bins, $11.97 each

That works out to about ten cents per litre of storage, which is awesome. Admittedly, the bins are not completely air-tight, but they're pretty darn good; scads better than cardboard boxes with holes for handles, anyway. And I've already transferred the bulk of the stash into them. Next, I will be going around the house picking up the stash "offshoots" that wouldn't fit into the cardboard box system, and putting them the heck away. And there will still be room to grow! Glee!

(Of course, when my ship comes in, I'm totally replacing the totes with these ones.)

The bin-acquiring trip also happened to be a stash-enhancing trip, as I needed large quantities of acrylic yarn. For one thing, I'm finally getting around to writing up a blanket pattern I designed about seven years ago, and I need to test it out. For another, DD1 wants me to make her the Sand Dollar dress. (Yes, it is kind of horrifying that I will be doing a Starmore in acrylic; however, this garment will be used for playing dressup. As such, it will get sweated in, spilled on, pulled and stretched in awful ways, and otherwise beat up to within an inch of its life, and dammit, I'm not putting fancy wool through that.)

I cast on for the blanket very shortly after coming back from shopping, and it's going very well, although it's kind of a mindless slog right now because the vast majority of it is stocking stitch. On the other hand, that kind of thing makes wonderful "movie knitting", so hopefully there will be people out there who want to make it.

The dress has not been cast on yet because I can't find my copy of The Children's Collection. This really highlights how bad it is in my house, organization-wise, because I JUST HAD IT the other day. So this organization spree I'm on is coming in handy in more ways than one. I'm also hoping that one of my TWO copies of the Patons "Just for Dolls" booket also shows up during the culling process, because DD1 has asked me for some clothes for her Barbies.

Will I at last achieve my life's goal of organizational bliss?

Hey. Stop laughing.


Carrie K said...

Yes. Someday. After you find the book. :)

An acrylic Starmore? Oh noes!! But OTOH, what's the point of wool one that won't work?

Anonymous said...

I think I just made my disorganization much worse this week - because, really, what's more fun, starting new projects or putting away the old stuff? I now have a living room full of sewing pattern tissue, yarn ball ends, and stash boxes pulled out to find the next great thing... sigh (in both the happy and sad connotations!).

The "Just for Dolls" must have been a very popular booklet - that had the first garment pattern I ever remember making (still have it - the cardigan with the eyelet rows down the fronts). The book is long gone from my mom's - yet going through her estate sale scores 3 provinces away, I found it again! So I snagged it ;). I don't have dolls to knit for at the moment, but it's so sentimental now!!

Susan said...

Your basement sounds like heaven. If you can't find your Barbie book head over to http://www.stickatillbarbie.se/ where you will find a gazillion free Barbie patterns.

Gill said...

You are going through the EXACT same thing we are!

Sorting blows; I just put my old Girl Guides Programme book in the recycle bag. And we hope to transform our small, unfinished basement much as you do, with a play area and some office space.

Our basement is full of my dad's stuff since he moved, and yowza, it's a lot.

If I remember, you had a pretty decent playroom in your house when we were kids. I loved it.

Anyway, it actually makes me really happy that you're doing it too. Good luck. :)