The most effective basement organizing

The most effective basement organizingWhen it comes basement junk clearance, the words alone may make you want to shudder with dread. The prospect of having to go through what is probably years’ worth of items collected and put away for safekeeping, only to be forgotten about, is very likely the last thing you want to do. But needs must and there really is little else as rewarding as completing a basement clearance! Just think of all the space you’ll have. You could turn your basement into another room for guests who come to stay or even create that home office you’ve always dreamed. Either way, the job of domestic clearance will give you a sense of satisfaction rarely felt, but never forgotten! So if you’re ready to get down to thorough rubbish removal, this guide might prove accommodating!

It’s true that as you stare into the abyss of clutter in your basement you’ll not only be questioning where to begin, but might find yourself deliberating on what to include in your junk removal pile. Questions like – What if I need it again? Will my daughter be angry if I throw this out? How much is this worth? – will all be rearing their heads, but here is a general rule of thumb. If you haven’t used something for over a year, then it’s highly unlikely that you ever will! So dump it, or give it to someone who would make use of it. Just don’t keep it in your basement for a minute longer. So begin by separating your items, into various piles to keep and others labelled as rubbish, recycling, donations and to sell.

Being stuck down in a basement with no light or fresh air can get a bit stuffy. Be sure to wear a dust mask to protect yourself from inhaling too much dust. Also if you’ve got sensitive eyes, wear a pair of goggles. Wear protective hand gloves when lugging boxes up the basement stairs as you ready them for trash removal.

Other than being one of the most taxing of all clearance tasks, a basement clear out will also require time from your busy schedule.  Just set aside a couple of hours each day or a half or full day on a weekend to get the job done.  Set yourself a realistic target to first sort everything in one or two days. Then complete all junk disposal and then you can set the next goal to set up the basement for it’s new use.

There are a number of ways to discard of your waste. First, make sure you recycle as much as you can by taking it to your local recycling plant. By taking care of the house clearance yourself means you may need to hire a van or find a friend with a truck. You may consider calling your local town municipal authority to see what they will pick up. Another option is to hire a junk haul out company in your local area.

A good house clearance may leave you with less clutter, but it could mean a build up expenses. So why not try selling some of what you consider junk online. The Internet auction realm is booming at present and some people make a living out of selling unwanted items on eBay. Once your basement is clear and you are storing only the things you really use, you can look at the possibilities for new uses for this space. Or you can simply upgrade the area and keep using it as you are!

Ella Andrews is a dedicated writer and keen home improvement specialist. She gets inspiration by exploring new sources of information regarding household maintenance. Presently she writes mostly about house and office cleaning and clearance themes. Read more house clearance tips at: Junk Removal Waste Ltd.


Keep Purging Simple

Too often when someone starts to organize, they get bogged down in where everything is going. Some items may go to a friend or family member, others to a favorite charity, others you might keep if they fit, or can be fixed…you get the idea. Suddenly your sorting process has turned into seven different piles on the floor and you can’t quite remember which is which.

That’s why I try to help my clients (and my kids) focus on a simple decision. Is it a yes or a no? Thinking simply is what helps you get organized. Yes means it fits now, I wear it, I use it, I love it! No means there’s too many conditions or simply I don’t use it or want it anymore. This can apply to clothing, toys, memorabilia, household items, really anything you’re trying to organize. If you find you are so attached to things that nothing ends up in the “no” pile, try this trick: have a friend or family member sort with you. Let them physically hold up the item and you just say yes or no. Don’t take too long, just go with your gut instinct.

The yes items will stay and you’ll have to find a home for them, but on the positive side, these are all the clothes that make you look great or feel wonderful. They are the photos and memorabilia that bring you happiness. They are the practical, functional items that you use everyday.

If you say no to an item it means you don’t love it, it doesn’t make you feel good when you wear it, it brings you bad memories, or sometimes you don’t know where the heck you got it from or why you kept it this long! Let go of the no’s and you’ll feel lighter.

I know that life is not all black and white and that there are many shades of gray in making decisions but just for fun, the next time you sort through a category, try this black & white approach. Keep it simple and see if it doesn’t go faster and easier.

And if you need a place to take your “no’s” give me a call, I’ve got lots of resources.

Two bits of advice on de-cluttering

I’ve been sounding like a broken record lately with my clients so I thought I would put out this advice to the universe. With 10 years of experience in organizing and helping my clients de-clutter I’ve learned a few things that can save you some time and energy in the long run. Here they are:

DO NOT HAVE A GARAGE SALE TO SELL YOUR JUNK – Despite what you see on TV about people doing a clean sweep and getting lots of cash to redecorate, this is not the norm. Remember those shows have a TV production crew drawing people to their sale and most times, they come up short anyway. Yard sales & garage sales are a lot of work for the owner. You have to get up early,set your stuff out, price it, haggle about those prices with everyone, spend a day outside and then you have to do something with all the left overs at the end of the day. You also have to get people to show up which is no small task. My only “unless” would be that if your community or neighborhood is doing one big sale and it’s going to be social and someone else is doing the marketing for you or if you live in a heavily trafficked area, then go for it. It might be fun and you’ll earn some spending money in the process.

I told this to one client who was downsizing and her husband insisted on doing the sale. He and a friend looked forward to it. Then the Saturday came and it rained. They sat out all morning made about $50 and had to haul all the junk back to the house or put it in the trash. I went back on Monday and they said,”It really was a waste of time.”

DO NOT THINK YOUR OLD CLOTHES OR FURNITURE ARE WORTH $$$$$– Yes there are a lot of consignment shops popping up. Clothing consignment stores are very particular about the brand name, condition and style of clothing they will consign. Do not be offended if they don’t take your stuff. You many have paid $300 for a suit in 1985 but it’s not worth that today. Consignment shops sell stuff cheap. And even if your items get accepted by the store, there’s no guarantee they will sell.  Case in point. I have a client with well- made dresses from the 80’s. They served her well and she thinks they are worth something. Actually they were worth, on average, $40 a piece at a local consignment shop. But in two months, only one item sold. So now she wants them back to try to sell somewhere else. This could be a vicious circle, taking my time and hers to move clothes around that she does not wear anymore.

The same goes for old furniture and household items. As one auction director said to me, “It’s a simple case of supply & demand.” Just because your grandparents told you something was worth a lot of money, it doesn’t necessarily mean that is true today. People are not buying antiques the way they used to even 20 years ago. And the baby boomers are downsizing and flooding the market with this stuff so supply is high, demand is low. That’s the hard truth.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? Donate the items or don’t expect to make a ton of money. Be thankful to find someone who will come pick up all your unwanted household goods and clear out your house. Whether you’re downsizing or staying you will feel lighter once they are gone.

Clothing is the easiest thing to donate. Don’t be picky about where your clothes go. Trust that the homeless or less fortunate will appreciate your old clothes and put out some good karma. If you have a specific charity that helps people get back to work like Dress for Success or a half way house, they would love dress clothes – male or female.

Furniture is actually a little easier to consign. If you think you have some treasures, by all means have an auction house in to do an assessment. Get a couple quotes and then choose your best. Someone who will take the whole lot, not charge you for the pick up and give you one price is the most efficient way to go. It’s out in one day and you’ve got a little mad money in hand.

You can waste a lot of time second guessing your organizer, the auction house or consignment shop. If your goal is to eliminate clutter, downsize your home and move, then don’t loose sight of your goal. You’ve decided you don’t want or need these things so “Let it go!” What you see on Antiques Roadshow is not the norm.

Can anyone identify with what I’m saying? Please share your story.

Cleaning Out When a Loved One Has Died

Recently I had the experience of helping a family not only clean out their basement but deal with the death of their mother. The message I want to convey here is that although the task seems overwhelming, it can be done! (probably quicker than you think.) There are a few key steps to take though if you want it done without drama, tension and chaos. I believe this family had the right combination.

First of all, the daughter contacted me last year, shortly after her mother passed away. She was one of seven children in a combined family from a couple marriages. Her main goal was to help her step-father deal with his loss by removing many of her mother’s things so that he wasn’t “living with a ghost.” We walked through the house and assessed each room and what needed to be done.  I came back for a couple visits with the step-father and we did some sorting and purging in the basement, which was the worst room at that point. The daughter lives out of town so it wasn’t until recently that she was able to get back for a weekend. But in the meantime she had time to grieve and was more emotionally ready when the time came. She was smart to bring her husband, mother-in-law and brother with her for a planned weekend of “cleaning out.” In the meantime a storage unit had been emptied and many boxes were dumped in the basement. With grown children there always seems to be a revolving door so needless to say the basement was worst than I last saw it.

We planned a full day on Thursday and a half day on Friday of me working with the family to sort and purge. We knew there would be trash, donations, consignment items and also some boxes that other members of the family would have to deal with. Sam, the daughter had a plan of attack before I even arrived. We tackled the basement again but this time quite thoroughly. It took 5 of us working 6 hours to complete the room. When we finished we had a driveway full of trash, two corners piled with donations and one corner of consignment items. I set up two pick-ups: came on Saturday morning to take the donations and trash and Consign & Design from Broomall, PA came on Tuesday to pick up the consignment items. The second day, we took care of her mother’s personal items. Again we had donations, consignment items and two boxes for the daughters. After Day 1, Sam’s step-father was amazed at the transformation. After Day 2, Sam herself felt like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders. Every family has one child who feels responsible for pulling the family together and she’s it in hers. Her brother graciously let her put her name on all the consignments. It’s quite possible she’ll recoup the cost of my services for those days.

I have to say working with her family was a joy. No one fought over what they wanted, everyone kept the goal in mind and kept moving. We even had fun laughing at some funny things that were saved. Sam and her brother, Jeremy reminisced about crazy Halloween costumes that their mom had made. And yes, some tears were shed as they inevitably are at these times. But we let Sam have her moment, take the mementos that meant something to her, and the rest of us kept working.  I know they were exhausted by the end of the weekend but everyone was happy that they could go home feeling some closure and knowing that their step father did not have to face this daunting task alone. We will all be there someday and I think there is a lesson in this for all of us:

Key Steps

  1. Give yourself time to grieve first.
  2. Set a date and recruit helpers, don’t let it drag out or do it little by little.
  3. Have a plan of which rooms to do first, second, etc.
  4. Give all family members an opportunity to take what they want within a deadline.
  5. Use pick-up services whenever possible.

(For before & after pictures of this project, go to my Facebook)