What I’ve Been Doing The Past Couple of Weeks.

Have you heard of the One Room Challenge??  It’s the decorating sensation that’s swept the Internet. Various design bloggers are chosen to make over one room in their house in a short amount of time with access to beautiful sponsored products.  It’s a huge deal.  Well guess what?!  My basement makeover is nothing like that.

So here’s what happened. I had a mason jar, that mason jar needed to be put away so I went down to the basement to put it on my mason jar shelf.  There was no room on the shelf so what you see in the above photo happened.  If you don’t understand how putting a mason jar away could lead to this kind of mayhem, I repeat – there was NO room on the mason jar shelf.

I’m sure you understand now.

Everything got pulled out, moved, screamed at and kicked until there was no coming back from it. So I went upstairs, made my dinner and pretended none of the previous hour had happened.

If a news crew showed up the neighbours would say, “No, nothing unusual, she mainly keeps to herself. I did see her fling a 6′ tall gold sex doll out of her front door the other night. That seemed a bit odd.”

They aren’t sex dolls by the way. They’re life sized gold mannequins which I use exactly once a year when I drag them up from the basement to put them on either side of my living room entrance on Oscar night.

As one does.

Every night for the past couple of weeks I’ve been going into my Alcatraz of a basement to sort things out. Anything I don’t think is worth the space it takes up is brought up to the dining room. Which is now looking similar to my basement, yet somehow my basement doesn’t look any better.

I put stuff away in the basement then a day later I’m moving it again, realizing there’s a MUCH better spot for it just over here behind the 14 tubs of Halloween decorations.

This just goes on and on.

The whole project just about went sideways on me when I realized I didn’t want to do this anymore. It’s not horrible to undertake a project that you can see is progressing nicely. Or just progressing. My basement on the other hand just kept getting worse and worse.

I bought storage bins and the basement got worse. I bought parts organizers and the basement got worse. I built a shelf and the basement got worse. It was like when you try to trim your own bangs.

But I think last night I may have reached the peak of the shit storm and am now coming out on the other side.

Still covered in shit you understand, but at least the storm is tracking north.

That’s an after photo you see above. It’s not maybe recognizable as an after photo so I felt the need to point that out.

My workbench on the other hand looks GREAT.

Everything is organized on the pegboard with 2 new parts drawers lined up side by side. Everything is within easy reach.  That was 24 hours ago.

This is it now. You see, I started to clean up the other side of the basement which led to this. I told you. One step forward, two steps back into a tourists-only Mexican Porta Potty.

I should have just thrown out the mason jar. We all know that would have been the most mental health friendly thing to do. 

All I want is a basement that holds my very large supply of hobby materials and tools. And I want to be able to access them and put them away without the fear of someone finding me a month later surrounded by an avalanche of plastic pots and sex dolls. I mean mannequins.

Nope. It’s not going to be beautiful or inspire you to Pin it or even want to copy it. In fact if you’re especially sensitive to messy spaces it’ll probably still require you take a pill and have a rest after looking at it. The walls are rubble, the floors are cement and the ceiling is made up of 10% wood, 10% hazardous looking electrical wires and 80% dead bugs. That’s not going to change. 

I am not in the One Room Challenge. I am One Room Challenged. And I’ve made peace with that. The only real problem is, I thought it was my living room that was the challenge. 


What I'm Eating

I hope the rest of your weekend is good. It’s Sunday! Stay in your pajamas, make a roast and then come on over and help me clean out my basement.

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64 Comments

  1. Alena says:

    Your basement looks just like mine. Each year, I pretend to promise myself that “this winter” I will really clean it up. I know it’s not going to happen, but I keep pretending.
    The thing is, years ago I helped a friend organize her house, declutter it and whip it into shape. I had no problem making decisions when it came to her stuff – I could see right away that some items were suitable only for trash, and I even managed to convince her of the same.
    It’s only when it comes to my own hoard when I am completely paralyzed and unable to give up anything.

  2. H says:

    So, have you considered an exorcist? Because that basement is for sure haunted.

  3. Carswell says:

    OK. I am not feeling so inadequate about the way my basement looks right now. Or how it looked last week anyway. It is the place in my house where stuff goes to die – and I had decided over the Christmas break to just hire one of those companies that come and take away your junk and deal with it for once and for all.

    Then the rain happened this weekend and I went downstairs to change the cat litter and found 3” of water across the entire floor!! God bless my furry girl, she waded through the water to use her litter box but she quite rightfully protested.

    So, now that I have had the water removed, my furnace checked, the hot water heater repaired and huge fans roaring away down there for three days, my procrastinations about doing something about the stuff in the basement are over. Or, almost over – I need to settle with my insurance over any losses that I can identify of things that I actually value down there. Fortunately, nine tenths of the stuff I care about was already on shelving and escaped the water but there are a few things.

    Then, let the clear out begin.

  4. Robyn says:

    Wow! I can relate to that basement. You have to get that all sorted out before seed starting season. I look forward to seeing the end result of your labors. Carry on!

  5. Brooke says:

    How did you get into my basement!? Oh, wait; that’s not my basement. My basement looks just like this except my basement had some BIG, TALL, STRAPPING young men in it this summer who were charged with rebuilding the foundation beams for my house—yes, I bought an old house with screw jacks in the basement serving as foundation supports. Don’t ask me why I went through with the deal when the inspector told me I had to replace the screwjacks…anyway, back to the BIG, TALL, STRAPPING young men. They worked hard and long down there, and there was much jackhammering and sawing and hoisting and pounding. What there WASN’T was any sort of sheeting or covering or rearranging of STUFF so that concrete dust, wood dust, and all the other gross STUFF that was generated was kept off my precious STUFF. Now, whenever I touch or move something to get to something, there is an awful grinding/scraping/screeching of particulate matter that kind of brings to mind chewing sand. My husband thinks I’m going to help him clean and sort it all out some day so that our dear daughter, and only child, doesn’t inherit a pile of junk covered in concrete. But I have other plans…I remember the labor pains, the tweenage sass, the mid-teen rebellion, the eye-rolling/skipping school/dating of miserable jerks…I remember too that revenge is a dish best served cold…

  6. Eileen says:

    I never have room on the mason jar shelf (which is probably a whole story in itself – I mean, I use one, but when I go to put it back its space has been taken…do they breed???)
    Anyway…I have now discovered that that’s what the top of the washer and dryer are for. I just have to remember to shift it to the machine not in use so it doesn’t dance off the one in use. Got that?

  7. celestial says:

    Karen, you are absolutely the best. Truly, other bloggers post a “messy room cleanup” that begins with a Martha Stewart-type area that looks like it has been attacked by one tiny spider for 10 minutes, and then morphs to a House Beautiful “after” spread. Your basement is REAL; and looks exactly like the cellar I grew up with; cinderblock/concrete walls, tiny windows, and floors that look like hazardous waste sites. It is hard to have light enough to find what you need, never mind clean/organize them. You rock.

    Aren’t the white chairs the same as in your dining room? Do you have spares?

    • Karen says:

      Oh the cinderblock you see is the fancy part of the basement, lol. The rest is rubble. Which is filled with weird white dust that’s constantly falling off and HUGE cracks and crevices for bugs and probably Komodo dragons to hide in. ~ karen!

  8. Angie says:

    This happens to me all the time in my basement too. We’re remodeling just about every room of our house so our basement is a catch-all of everything you can imagine and a few things you don’t want to. It drives me insane! But I have a burning question. Did you finally get to put the mason jar away?

    • Karen says:

      I did!!! I can’t believe I completely forgot that portion of the story! I took everything off of a dirty 4′ high metal shelving unit in the basement, then painted it white and stored the mason jars on it. 🙂 ~ karen!

  9. Melody Ryan says:

    I feel you. I put away my Christmas decorations in my basement and I didn’t emerge for 2 days and when I did, I had 6 bags for the charity shop and 6 for the trash and I onlymade it through the Christmas stuff. The irony here is the whole time I kept repeating, “In the Christmas Pledge, Karen says if you don’t like it or you don’t use it, get rid of it.” 😬
    I am convinced that if I had really deep shelves around the whole perimeter – like deep enough for plastic tubs – that it would solve my problem.

  10. Ms Macaron says:

    A beautiful metaphor for the basement of a creative mind.

  11. Wendy says:

    Holy Hannah! That would give me hives. And a twitch.

    Good luck. But remember, sometimes it’s sort of like moving deck chairs around on The Titanic.

    That basement might just be sunk. Luckily you have the rest of your beautiful house in which to breathe easily.

  12. Julie Anne says:

    Those nicely organized plastic boxes on your workshop table need to have the drawers labelled. A1, A2, A3, etc. Enter into a spreadsheet on your computer. Print out the lists and put in one of your three ring binders.

    Before you give me an atta girl for being so efficient, I’ll admit that it is DH that does this. When I want something, I look at his printouts.

    • Karen says:

      LOL. Well, I’m labelling the drawers but that’s as far as I’ll go. I just like using my labeller WAY more than I like making spreadsheets. ~ karen!

  13. DJ says:

    I love how you make a “quick” meal by growing your own bean sprouts! Hahaha! I also love the creative genius that lives in your basement. Leave her be!

    • Karen says:

      LOL!! Yes, I never even thought of the fact that I had to grow the bean sprouts for my quick meal. Still – quick by my standards. It took me months to grow the potatoes I ate tonight! ~ karen

  14. Marcia says:

    I envy you your basement. I need a basement so I can move things from my quilt room into the basement so I can actually walk around in my quilt room. Sigh. My goal this year is to do to that room what you’re doing to your basement but without the whole getting rid of things part because I cannot get rid of fabric, or thread, or sewing machines. I also have a mason jar shelf that is over filled. My daugher says I’m a hoarder, but I prefer to think of myself as a historian.

  15. Etta says:

    Oh, Karen…you are so lucky to have a basement! I remember having a basement in Pennsylvania. I didn’t appreciate it.
    I didn’t appreciate the multiple car garage either….
    I now live near the beach. The water table is so high that I can’t have a basement. Don’t have a garage either.
    The third bedroom is my “basement”. Funny…all “basements” look alike. Hate to tell you. ..it’s always going to look like that. It’s what all basements look like. It’s the law.

  16. Benjamin says:

    Oh, Honey… 🤷🏼‍♂️

  17. Patti H says:

    I saw a couple of silkscreens. What did you make? Cards, dish towels, napkins, gift wrapping?

    • Karen says:

      Yup. LOL! No, just dish towels, some re-useable shopping bags, tee shirts … That’s part of why I wanted to clean the basement up. So when I want to screen print it’s as easy as pulling out my DIY screen printing machine and paint from the screen printing shelf and doing it. No searching or moving things around, clearing off the workbench etc. etc.! I’m SO excited to print something when this basement is done! ~ karen

  18. Teddee Grace says:

    Oh, I know this feeling. I have it every time I go to my rental storage units. Yes, I now have two after swearing I would never have more than a single unit, following the three months it took me to clear out two huge units I had back in Missouri that had held my whole life for about five years where it had moldered in the humidity, heat and cold, then a full week two years ago to clear out three I had in Arizona, accomplished finally by turning the keys over to a total stranger I met while waiting to pay for lunch in a restaurant. Now, when it isn’t too cold, too hot, too windy, raining, snowing or otherwise disagreeable I drive up there and stir around in these units, sometimes finding a few things I can drop off at a lucky thrift store on the way home. They never look any better. Well, sometimes somewhat better organized until I need something on the bottom in the far right corner. I think it is keeping me fit. Physically if not mentally. Possibly.

    • Karen says:

      Oh boy – you have to get rid of those units! At least one of them? I mean, unless you live in them, then by all means, keep them both. You’ll feel so much better when you ditch one of them! By the way, is there anything good in them? Would I like it? And could it all fit into my basement?? ~ karen!

  19. Mary W says:

    Another post confirming my decision to read your ‘stuff’ even when I don’t think I’m interested in the subject. I have no basement BUT I have a house that looks like a basement. That is why I escape by reading your posts.

  20. Thera says:

    I had my basement neat and organized, then “After Christmas” barfed all over it and it looks even worse than yours, so there is hope and I too thank you for keeping it real!

  21. Colleen D Cailes says:

    I would love, love, love to take the butcher block off your hands. If you lived closer I would be firing up my old 1991 4Runner and making my way to your house right now to pick it up. My garage is just like your basement. Good thing I don’t have a basement or it would look like that too. Keep the witty remarks coming.

    • Karen says:

      The butcher block is staying, lol. Even though I don’t use it upstairs anymore I absolutely love it. I wish there was a place for it in the main portion of my house but since redoing my foyer and kitchen there isn’t anywhere for it. Isn’t it beautiful?! ~ karen

      • Mary E says:

        I think this is the root of the problem. You’re not getting rid of things you don’t use.

        • Karen says:

          Just the butcher block. Every time I look at it it makes me happy. 🙂 And I do use it as a potting table down there.

        • Roxanne says:

          I truly do not have any room in my small cottage for my butcher block right now. But it is staying. In the past, though, I put my tv on it (no room in my old kitchen).

  22. Dave in Peel says:

    My people! I’ve found my people! I knew there were others out there like me.
    In the last 3 years I’ve cleaned out 1) My aunt’s house, which had previously been my grandparents, that had been accumulating treasures since they moved in in 1939. That basement was similar construction to yours. 2) My parent’s house, accumulating stuff since 1971, but included things from their previous house, my other grandparents house and my father’s gas station. Plus numerous sheds etc.
    Now I look at mine, and I’m just too tired. In his last few years my father would look at it all and laughingly say “Well, it’s all yours now”. I’m thinking of practicing that line on my kids!

    • Karen says:

      I literally have no idea how I got into this. I mean I know how I got into it (the mason jar) but I just SNAPPED! Every cupboard, drawer, and rafter is getting dealt with. It’s got to be easier in someone else’s house. You’ll find the energy to do your one day. Maybe. If not, just lock the door to the basement and call it a day. ~ karen!

  23. Chris says:

    Your pictures and struggles are real…and I applaud you for that! Your wit is magical – but I have learned NOT to drink my coffee as I read – yep, you have caused a few messes in my lap…and I thank you for that! “Sex dolls and Porta-potties” I love, love, love how real you are! Thank you from the bottom of my messy basement to yours! I live vicariously through you – wishing I had the time and energy to “do stuff” as much as you do – you are inspiring!

  24. Elizabeth Jackson says:

    Keep the stuff. Just keep a fire extinguisher down there too.

    I actually envy your basement, cool stuff and a space to work in.

  25. Nancy says:

    Hi!
    First don’t listen to Sondra (you can keep everything, you might need it for something, someday). I spied two things in your basement that I have (somewhere) that acorn-looking metal mold thingy and the egg scale!
    Just get some more bins and hide your stuff. If you want to masquerade as organized, put labels on them.

  26. Sondra says:

    Words of wisdom…..hon, you CAN NOT keep everything you’ve touched in this life! Not even people. Things change, come and go and come again….

    I had a husband that was a finance guy in a suit that became a gentleman farmer/tinker/collector after he retired who accumulated two decades of THINGS that after he died I was given the “privilege” of going through and getting rid of. Take a deep breath, get some big boxes/ bags and figure out what needs to go to the trash and what the Goodwill will take and start to haul it away! Haven’t used in a decade but still good? Gift it or sell it! Projects you never will do again or basically useless? Trash it! Projects that came and went? Goodwill it! You get the picture.

    I’ve now been at it for 10 months so there’s hope that you will see the floor again and maybe even the countertops, promise!! Just think of the thrill of having a cleaned out basement that you can start the process all over again with NEW objects or chasing down the next project to bring home and start the accumulation of STUFF all over again, LOL!

  27. Suzanne G. says:

    Our basement looks like yours. I even bought the book The Home Edit AND Marie Kondo’s book. Made it through the mail that was breeding on the counter (it’s breeding again, unfortunately), but can’t seem to bring myself to the basement yet. The problem? I know where everything is. So, even though it gives me anxiety every time I go down there and looks like, as my dad would say, “The dog’s breakfast,” I am paralyzed and can’t seem to do anything. (In all fairness, I think the dog’s breakfast is more organized….all same-sized similar items corralled neatly in a stainless steel bowl…) if you want help, let me know. I would be happy to help you…I’m actually good organizing other people’s stuff.

    Oh, and thanks for the post…you can’t believe how much i appreciate the ‘real’ pics, as opposed to perfect instagram or Pinterest shots. Shows you’re just like the rest of us.

    • Karen says:

      Oh! Thanks, that’s good to know. These Sunday posts are always just pictures from my iPhone that I’ve taken during the week. Even if I’d tried to get a great photo of the basement it never would have happened though, lol. No photographer in the world could make that basement look attractive in any way. ~ karen!

  28. Gail says:

    I chuckled all the way through your telling of the storm. Thanks for starting my day this way

  29. Jane says:

    I’m working on my attic. Bags and bags to Value Village and Mission Thrift Store. I have a corner clean to put away the Christmas stuff but there’s still lots of chaos. I have the feeling I’m gaining control. The basement is another story, can’t even see the workbench.

  30. Julia says:

    In Queensland, Australia the houses are on stilts and we store everything underneath. Mine looks like your basement but with more air and loads of old Bougainvillea flowers that blow in. I don’t have the gold statues but am very keen to get some, because who could possibly not need them – where did they come from?

  31. Lisa Hodge says:

    I can totally relate. But I have one burning question… what do you do with the fishing lures that are so delightfully hung on the pegboard behind your workbench?

    • Karen says:

      Nothing. 🙂 They’re just there for me to look at. Part of the basement fiasco was going through 7 or so fishing tackle boxes that belonged to my father. I kept the best stuff that reminded me of him and condensed it into one tackle box. Then I hung those ones up just to look at. ~ karen!

  32. Ann says:

    I am jealous of your workbench. I have the same shelving rack thing for micro-greens except mine doubles as a magazine rack. I wanted to do gardening outside only after I bought the house did I learn a black walnut tree is poisonous hence the light rack but I have not used it lately.

  33. Susan says:

    Looks like my partners garage. If you need any tool you tiptoe around piles hoping they won’t fall over until you find it. Needless to say I don’t go in very often. I rather ask him for it as he knows where everything is.
    I will help you clean up, just pay for the air ticket. LOL

  34. Josephine Dubois says:

    I cleaned up my store room last weekend so I could move the Christmas tree without having to take it apart. I think next year I’ll be patting myself on the back and maybe won’t dread trimming the tree.

  35. CathyReeves says:

    Kristi pd Addicted2decorating is doing this to her whole house. She recommended a book to help her out. Today she tossed 8 contractors bags of stuff. Might help you in your endeavors.
    Have a good weekend.

    • Karen says:

      OHhhh I’ve already done that! About 15 years ago I got rid of everything in my house. It’s just my basement that gives me hives. But I’ll have a look at her post! ~ karen

  36. Wendy Thomson says:

    Good Grief!

  37. Vicki in Birmingham says:

    OMG…I feel like I wrote that post. I truly thought I was the only person that found the more I did in a room, the worse it got. I will say, that work bench did look great! Thanks for making me feel more normal…nah, that isn’t the word I am looking for…for making me feel less crazy, no, not that either…Well, just thanks for posting your pictures and your story!

  38. Linda says:

    Can I be a Picker in your basement??

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