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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.

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