Martha's Basement

Photo: Eric Piasecki
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The Refinished Basement

Eric Piasecki

In many houses, the basement is a neglected space. And no wonder – who would want to spend time in an area that is dank and disorderly, with beams low enough to clunk your head on, or floors that get soaked on rainy days? But when Martha moved into her 1925 Colonial-style, four-bedroom home in Bedford, New York, she vowed to make the basement useful – a tall order for the 2,600-square-foot space, which was completely unfinished and featured dirt floors and low ceilings. Some of it was merely crawl space.

Martha set out to have the basement finished, an undertaking that included digging out the too-small nooks to create usable rooms: namely, a professionally equipped laundry room, a room for crafts and gift wrapping, two large storage rooms, a bathroom, and a wine cellar -- with the necessary supplies and fixtures to suit its designated purpose. And with a little bit of tiling, the help of some new lighting fixtures, and a little bit of organization, Martha's basement upgrades came to prove that a basement can easily be clutter-free, functional, and even cheerful. Take a look.

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Household Storage

Martha's Storage Room

Rolling, locking shelves use space from floor to ceiling. Custom wooden cases house screens and storm windows. A smooth concrete floor instead of the tiling employed elsewhere makes it easy to roll heavy, wheeled shelving units. As an added precaution against flooding, extra dining chairs and other furnishings are kept on aluminum racks. These pallets keep valuables off the floor and away from any dampness.

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Laundry Room: Folding and Ironing Table

Martha's Laundry Room

An expansive table with a padded white muslin cover was designed to provide plenty of space for ironing and folding laundry. Commercial metal laundry carts, some with hanging bars, are convenient for organizing clean and dirty clothing and linens. Rubber edges around the basket tops soften the blow when they bang into a table -- or a knee. An expansive table with a padded white muslin cover was designed to provide plenty of space for ironing and folding laundry.

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Laundry Room: Soaking Sinks

Eric Piasecki

Deep, vintage terra-cotta sinks were among the treasures that came with the house. Replumbed, they are just right for cleaning and soaking. A vintage white enamel towel bar mounted to the tiled wall is handy.

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Laundry Room: Supply Cart


Cleaning supplies look tidier and are more convenient to use when decanted into attractive, manageable containers.

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Laundry Room: Oversized Options


In a bustling household, oversize laundry equipment makes sense. Martha's long ironing table was built to accommodate her height.

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Creative Spaces

Martha's Creative Area

Martha found this vintage shelf at an antiques shop and left it in its charming, if slightly worn, condition. A set of slim metal cafe-curtain rods, attached to wooden shelf brackets, holds a colorful assortment of ribbons and twines. The rods are removable, so spools can be easily replaced. Oversize rolls of paper, such as butcher paper, can be found at kitchen- and shipping-supply stores. This one is positioned at the end of another stainless steel work table, where it can be unfurled quickly to cover boxes. Long, shallow drawers are terrific for sorting and storing large sheets of colored tissue and other papers -- with no worries about wrinkling.

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Supply Shelves


An extra-long stainless steel kitchen table holds crafts supplies -- many organized in clear plastic bins with press-on label sleeves. A paper cutter (on the tabletop) is a useful tool. This table is also used for unwrapping packages.

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Labeled Pipes


Having an organized basement means paying attention to the little things. Every valve is fitted with a label, so it's a cinch to shut off water at the source if necessary.

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Good Light


The ceiling fixture is one of the many vintage factory lights that brighten the room.

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Hanging Tools


Wall hooks keep an assortment of brooms and mops off the floor.

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Lined Shelves


Nonskid plastic shelf liners on slatted aluminum storage shelves keep breakables from sliding about.

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Recycling Bins


Rolling food-storage bins, found at restaurant supply stores, are repurposed beautifully as recycling containers; labels identify the contents of each.

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