Posted in Basement, Success Stories

A Good Start!

Emma contacted me in mid-December, asking about a possible Christmas present for her wife Megan. Their basement was cluttered with some of the usual stuff. It also had excess tools. Could I help Megan decide about duplicates? Could I ask if she really needed five hammers? If needed, could I approach the task with tough love?

After a series of back-and-forth emails, they decided to hire De-clutter Me! The holidays and their aftermath took over, then Megan went to visit family in South Africa for three weeks in February. We finally settled on a Saturday morning in the early spring. Christmas in April – what a hoot!

We first focused on the tool bench. Working top to bottom, we cleared its upper and lower shelves, work surface, peg board and two drawers.

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We next turned to shelves along the back wall of the basement. First clearing the floor in front, we then moved some things around and eliminated (what another client has called) “visual noise.”

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Our time used up, Megan felt good, and excited to continue on her own in the afternoon. Would I return if she got stuck or needed more help? Of course! In a few months’ time, would I come to her office to help with reducing the piles of paper? Of course!

Posted in Basement, Pantry, Success Stories

Some Results Seem Subtle

Newlyweds Judy and Robert asked for help. She moved into his house several months before their wedding. Since they’re middle-aged and avid cooks, they have all that they need. Some things, like spices, were in unneeded multiples.

As we discussed first working in their basement, Judy said, “Let the festivities commence.” All righty, then!

We would work top to bottom, organizing some shelves that weren’t really all that bad. Similar items, like for baking, were grouped together better. Plus, since the basement floor very occasionally gets wet, we would clear it.

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We brought some things, like spices, upstairs, for easier access in their pantry. Its spices already were alphabetized. Some were old. We tossed them. We took cans of cat food out of cardboard packaging and stacked them, to save space. We discussed a wall grid, to use some extra space and to hang some often-used skillets that wouldn’t fit elsewhere in the kitchen.

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There were so many spices, including some from Judy’s former home, that Robert arranged them on the floor.

Spices galore!
Spices galore!
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When we were done, Robert smiled and said, “You have made a permanent impact on our house.”

Posted in Basement, Success Stories

“The Basement Miracle”

That’s what Ann called our first “double session” day together. For decades, she and husband Bill had skipped organizing it. With wide-ranging interests like their large and extended family, sailing, the arts, and volunteering for varied community organizations and projects, the basement wasn’t a priority.

He had passed away a couple of months previously. She decided it was time. Viewing the large room, I suggested that, as with other clients, we start in one corner and work our way around the room.

Some friends, including former Lost Boys of Sudan, would come by between our two three-hour sessions to haul recycling and trash, including old paint cans, upstairs and into the garage for pick-up.

She and I devoted most of our time to some shelves that were full. The most valuable “real estate” – the shelves that were easiest to reach – would hold items needed most often. Others, like holiday platters, would be placed on those at the top and bottom. We filled several garbage bags and separated recycling. We also set aside a variety of items that she would donate to a local women’s chorus annual tag sale, scheduled for September. She graciously offered to store the contributions for the eight months until the sale.

 

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In our next “double session” day, we would continue working our way around the room.

Posted in Basement, Success Stories, Uncategorized

A Safer Basement

Though it was her wedding anniversary, Josie chose to devote the day to a “double session” day of de-cluttering. She, husband David and their three young children live on a secluded lot up a dirt road. She and David are entrepreneurs with a booming educational software company. Like Josie said, their busy household is “full of love.”

At first planning to work in their downstairs office, Josie switched to fixing other parts of the basement instead. Two of its rooms especially needed care. One, newly called the “Inner Sanctum,” had shelves that could be reorganized. The floor was covered with other boxes, cushions for an outdoor deck sofa, tools, bed frame parts and other wood.

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We started with the shelves, working top to bottom. We placed at the top items that the family uses rarely, though want to have handy. On the next two shelves (the most valuable “real estate”), we placed bins with some of David’s tools. We moved to the floor big bins with various cords, electronics parts and other items that Josie and David would sort at another time.

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We also worked in the outer basement room. It includes an ingenious arrangement – a chute for firewood to be dropped down through a window at ground level, across from the big box holding their wood stove. I suggested placing plastic bins at the bottom of the chute to catch wood, instead of it landing on the floor. Jodie then thought of having a more permanent box built. Firewood on the floor was placed in a tall bin, then pushed under the big box, along with a smaller kindling container and a few other items.

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David’s mother Judith, who lives nearby, was a huge help, hauling trash and recycling up the bulkhead stairs.

Perhaps the best part of the day? Beyond Josie’s smile, that magically grew even brighter as we worked, she found some polish to use on her wedding ring – great for her anniversary!

Posted in Basement, Success Stories

It Took Discipline

Nina and I had started work in the family condo’s basement in late July. Our next opportunity turned out to be a perfectly clear, very warm, even hot, day in late September. Such days are gifts! Plus, one of the family’s two cats was sprayed by a skunk the previous evening and had been in the basement. The space was a bit, well, fragrant. Did I want to reschedule, because of the excellent weather and aroma? I was already there and, with our two busy lives, thought it better that I stay.

We went downstairs, where the sprayed kitty was somewhat hiding on a big cushion on the top shelf of the basement’s back room. All I could see was a set of ears. The skunk smell actually was faint, so we decided it was okay to work.

We returned to an area started in our first session, working on shelves, top to bottom. They have lots of sturdy plastic containers, some of which store “memorabilia,” which Nina promises to purge. (Suggested – in stages, early in the morning while sipping coffee, before the rest of the family wakes up.) We moved things around, and cleared the floor.

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With our remaining hour or so, we went into the room where the unhappy-looking kitty seemed to be sulking. Understandable! First, we moved a door, which Nina’s husband had removed to hang a bar for pull-ups. We placed it on its side against a wall. Working our way around the room, we added to a trash bag, consolidated craft supplies and generally neatened the space.

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At the end of the session, Nina was pleased. Her young daughter would be able to ride her scooter around the basement in the winter. Her husband said that the basement looked great, and ready for “man cave construction.” Our discipline, forcing ourselves downstairs on a perfect Vermont afternoon, had paid off.

Our next project – the garage.

Posted in Basement, Success Stories

Nina’s Work in Progress

Nina is a wife and mother, and has a profession, too. She’s busy. Feeling a bit overwhelmed about my coming to work with her, I encouraged her to relax. (After all, it’s only me!) We first would focus on the basement of the family condo.

Where to start? What to de-clutter? What was bugging her most? She suggested a shelving unit, adding quickly that we had to protect husband Greg’s models. They would stay on the top shelf, along with two dinosaur figures. I suggested working top-to-bottom, reserving the most valuable “real estate” (the shelves most easily reached) for items that the family would use most. We set to work, rearranging, and filling big, plastic garbage bags with trash, items for other rooms and donations. We also set aside two art pieces done by her 8-year-old daughter, for an eventual wall art gallery.

As often is the case, a couple of times, Nina exclaimed, “I was looking for that!” After finishing the shelving unit, and with our remaining time, we started on the rest of the basement. We strategized for the rest of our upcoming sessions. We would work our way around the room. First, though, we cleared off the ping-pong table, so the family could enjoy using it again.

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