No Thanks
Keep In Touch With

Sign up and we'll send inspiration straight to you.

Martha Stewart takes your privacy seriously. To learn more, please read our Privacy Policy.

Organizing Basement Shelves

Martha Stewart Living Television

When you last perused your closets or basement, you probably had to marvel for a moment, wondering, "Where did all this stuff come from?" As we all know, "stuff" has a tendency to accumulate virtually overnight, and devising ingenious ways to force more goods into diminishing spaces won't solve the problem. Eventually, the thing you need most will be impossible to find, buried under so many layers that it might be tempting to call on excavation specialists for help. Martha's solution to such storage problems is simple, requiring only three components: sturdy shelves, clear plastic containers, and a label maker. Armed with this equipment, she quickly organizes holiday decorations, household supplies, and garden tools so that they're all within easy reach.

Martha first lines her shelves with nonslip shelf liners, to keep the storage surface safe and items secure, and then employs curtain tension rods to hold large trays upright. She keeps the things she uses most in an easily accessible place, and gathers similar items, or a variety of items used for the same job, in separate plastic containers. For example, one vessel might hold materials used for fastening, such as glue guns, staple guns, glues and epoxies, and wire, while another might contain all the supplies she needs to undertake a spackling job, such as spackling compound, a putty knife, sandpaper, trim and touch-up, and sponge brushes. She takes a similar approach to picture hanging and drapery supplies, as well as various drills. Each bin is then labeled to indicate its contents.

For smaller items that might not be so easily sorted, Martha prefers drawers with dividers, enabling her to keep labels, scissors, pens, markers, and batteries close at hand. She finds that the upper shelves, which aren't as easy to reach, are just the spot for items such as suitcases, extra flatware, and wineglasses. But she does stress the importance of prepping such things for storage; a suitcase should be kept dust-free with the help of a laundry bag, and flatware, plates, or glasses will be safer if kept in cotton-flannel storage bags, with felt liners between each plate. If a basement is damp, Martha recommends using odorless, nontoxic chloride pellets, which attract and absorb extra moisture in the air.

The deluxe storage system, flat-top waste cans, plate and platter liners, and zippered storage bags were from Martha Stewart: The Catalog for Living. We found the unbleached cotton laundry bag, easy-liner shelf liner, and Elfa wire baskets at The Container Store. The moisture sbsorber, refill pellets, and clear stackable storage boxes were from Martha Stewart Everyday. The wire baskets in drawers were from Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Comments (10)

  • fixedmortgagerates 29 May, 2010

    Stackable Storage Bins

    Have you ever had a need for more storage in your home? A great alternative to making a huge financial investment is by using a stackable storage bin to increase your available space within your home. You can use them in most rooms like the dining room, living room, bedrooms, or kitchen.

    Read More: Stackable Storage Bins,

  • crancrafty 24 Jan, 2009

    No pantry? No cool basement? Wall beside garage house entry lined with narrow shelving, wood or metal, lined with newspaper, will store home canning or store bought supplies at a cooler temperature. Better for your wines, too. Keep heavy large bags of flour, sugar there, too and cases of beer or pop are almost cool enough not to need a fridge, especially in winter! Good blinds on any windows will help regulate light and heat and keep out prying eyes, while not completely darkening the area.

  • crancrafty 24 Jan, 2009

    Work bench area is used for tool and project storage. On shelving underneath bench, separately box and label heavy tool boxes or stackable slotted boxes. Stack extra wood for projects at one end. A tack board behind open benchtop makes skillsaw blades accessible and holds pattern directions. A full length shelf under garage window with bored holes stores screwdrivers for easy access. Leave room for handy pliers. Store lighter items in wallmounted closed storage mounted beside the window.

  • crancrafty 24 Jan, 2009

    No basement, just garage, drywalled and painted. Bought Ikea adjustable wooden shelving units and attached wheels to bottoms. Boxes are labelled on both sides, storing like items on each unit. I store the units ends to the walls, to maximize storage area. Bethneedsorder

  • colleenancel 20 Jan, 2009

    I, also, have the big chrome baker's shelves from Home Depot, and, at 7 feet tall, they're floor-to-ceiling in the basement. One is full of kitchen appliances I use infrequently, like toaster ovens, blenders etc. The others have been partially converted to clear boxes, but are still mostly just labeled (at best). However, it beats stacking them everywhere. I have a great sewing room, a separate utility room, and a pantry/ kitchen storage room, all nicely finished with drywall and decent vinyl.

  • lbuser 15 Jan, 2009

    Pam, you can get the moisture pellets at WalMart and at Target. Buy them when you see them, they go fast. I had a bad fire in my basement and lost most of my stuff. Now I am starting over and I love the idea of shelves on wheels. It never occurred to me to put all the items for a particular job into a box, I was always hunting for associated items when I hung pictures and when I was using my glue gun. Great idea.

  • origamidoll 15 Jan, 2009

    I recently got a good idea from my sis-in-law. They had a flood in their sub-basement during heavy rains. She was so upset because she had stored things in cardboard boxes -many touching the floor or walls - all ruined! Now she has tall, attractive "Baker's" shelf units on sturdy wheels. She can see all her stuff in clear boxes and the floor is clear. Plus, she can move the shelves around easily and not park them against possibly damp walls. I am going to do this!

  • tgbighair 22 Feb, 2008

    Awesome idea Martha! I love it I have done alot of your projects and I must say they sure do help,being funtional,beautiful and has left me more time to enjoy other things...each time I go to use the area,I get a great feeling of peace knowing Im not digging to find things and it looks sooo pretty too! Thank You!!!
    ((((((((Martha))))))))) hugs

  • michellewash 28 Jan, 2008

    nothing better to do pam:)

  • PLBiesen 13 Jan, 2008

    There is a mis-spelled word in the RESOURCES paragraph, "The moisture ABSORBER, refill pellets, and clear stackable storage boxes were from Martha Stewart Everyday." Also, I looked for these in the link Martha Stewart Everyday and they cannot be found.. Pam