Organization of basements, attics and garages: organize your home series

November 4, 2012 0 By EngineerMommy

Here are some general suggestions for keeping your auxiliary spaces free from clutter and under control.

  • Keep a flashlight near the entrance to each space, so you can get in and out safely in case the regular lighting fails.
  • Make sure you have more than enough lighting in these spaces, which are often devoid of natural light.
  • Water seeping into basements is a huge problem with many negative consequences. Make sure the roof gutters and downspouts direct water away from the home’s foundation. Slope your soil around the home away from the home to channel water away from the base. Here are more tips for smart storage in basements.
    • Use waterproof storage containers in the basement.
    • Run a dehumidifier in the basement to reduce the amount of moisture in the air.
    • Store valuable, sentimental items in watertight boxes off the floor on a high shelf.
  • Clothes dryers, which often are located in basements, should be vented to the outdoors to preserve home air quality and reduce the risk of fire.
  • If your basement is unfinished, do not store anything in contact with bare soil – doing so could invite termites, pests, mold and mildew.
  • Do not place any objects within a few feet of major appliances, such as the furnace, boiler, water heater, and so on.
  • Ensure that a smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm are installed and have enough battery power to operate properly.
  • Flood is always a possibility in a basement even if you’re not in a flood zone.
    • Install a sump pump to fight floods and consider getting a battery-operated backup pump or a generator to make sure you can still remove water from the basement in the event of a power outage.
  • Never store cleaning chemicals in the basement, where potentially rising waters could create a dangerously toxic pool.
  • Due to the high humidity and heat found in attics and garages, do not store valuable papers in these spaces. The paper could become damp and then serve as a perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew.
  • Use vertical space in your garage intelligently. Create a loft platform to store excess lumber or storm doors above the ground.
  • Use hooks and chains to store bikes, ladders, and other gear on the wall off the floor and save valuable floor space.

General Rules of Thumb

Set aside some time to devote to your garage remodel. It will not take an hour, but it won’t take a month either. Or at least it doesn’t have to. Nearby friends or family that can help lend a hand will speed up the process of organizing your garage. Plan to spend a few days working on this project. The satisfaction of an organized, well designed space will be worth it in the end.

Things will be stored either in something – cabinets, baskets, bins – or on something – shelves, hooks, hangers. Make sure you have enough cabinetry and shelving in the space to accommodate the amount of items you have in the garage. Keep these tips in mind when designing the storage systems.

  • Allow shelf heights that allow enough space between the shelves. The bottom-most shelf should be around 20” from the floor. Generally, the distance between shelves should be around 15”, give or take a few inches.
  • Make sure all shelves, cabinets, and storage units have clearance from any swinging doors or garage doors.
  • Leave room on both sides of the car so swinging car doors can fully open and close without hitting shelves.
  • Make sure you have an open and free path from the entrance to the garage to the car door, and from the entrance of the garage to the trash can.

There are many ways you can design the storage solutions in your auxiliary spaces. Here are the most common ways:

  • Personalized wall systems: installed directly into the wall
  • Slotted wall panels: brackets/clips allow installation of bins, baskets, and shelves
  • Wall tracks: brackets/clips allow installation of cabinets, baskets, holders, etc.
  • Wall cabinets: permanently installed directly into wall
  • Freestanding shelving units: rolling unit of shelves
  • Perforated hardboard: dotted with holes to accept clips, hooks, shelves

To view the rest of the posts in the Home Organization Series, please click here.

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