Sunday, January 13, 2013

Taming the Monster in the Basement

The good news is we have a HUGE basement…the bad news is it’s a HUGE basement!  It’ll be eight years next month that we moved into our home, and it was only about six months ago that I decided made peace with the fact that we’re staying—at least for a while.  You see, we moved from the BIG house, thinking we were going to simplify our lives, only to realize, about two days after the move, that we NEEDED a big house.  Too much furniture, too many pretty things I (well, actually we, to some extent) didn’t want to part with.  So….thank heavens for a big basement!

When I finally decided to unpack EVERYTHING a few months ago (we’re staying, remember??), our basement looked like this:

2012-04-22_14-17-56_836 Stuff everywhere, as I got my arms around the massive amount of stuff we had.  Yes, in the old house we DID use all these Christmas trees!  And the hammock…and the wrought iron plant stands…

Then, to make matters worse :) my brother and SIL introduced me to auctions…hmmm.  Just what I needed.  A NEW monster was created, and sometimes our basement looked like this:

2012-10-27_17-11-27_242Shelves organized, then new stuff would come in.  And the problem with auctions is that you sometimes end up with things you don’t want too.  It’s called box lots, where you bid on a box of stuff because of ONE thing you want, but you get the whole box full of other stuff you don’t want.  Do I need more snack sets (see the boxes stacked under the table?)?  My parents always had nice big parties—as in no paper plates, regardless of the number of guests—and the snack plates and punch cups were always put to use.  I think it’s a safe estimate to say that they had more than 100 of each, some of which I now have.  And then there are the linens…I can hardly pass up a fine piece of hand-embroidered linen.  See them stacked on the basket? :)

Oh, and did I mention punch bowls?  I have a “thing” about big bowls and punch bowls—maybe it’s my dreams of always having large family gatherings.

DSCN5520 This one was an auction find that came with 36 punch cups.  Wait!  I just said I didn’t need more snack sets!  Ahhh, but I DID need THESE.  I really like this pattern!!, AND besides, this one came with the stand!  My identical punchbowl didn’t have a stand…I NEEDED it.  Oh, and did I say I got the whole thing for $3???!!!  Yes, THREE DOLLARS!!  How could I pass it up??  You understand, right?  (And to the right edge of the picture are other punch bowls, and upstairs on the buffet is our sterling one my MIL gave us years ago, which I’ve happily used often—you can see it HERE.)

DSCN5519 To redeem myself now that I’ve shown you the bad and the ugly, while all that was going on, the shelves we bought when we first moved here WERE organized.  The problem was the ADDITIONAL stuff from the unpacking, coupled with the new auction stuff…

So we bought more shelves and made progress taming the monster:

2012-10-27_17-11-16_402 But there was always more to go…

But now, I’m happy to report, THE MONSTER IS TAMED!


Yes…new dishes to be put away.  My SIL gave me the Pottery Barn plaid ones for Christmas.  Yippee!!  Lucky me!  I’m anxious to use them, so I’m thinking about how to use them for a non-Christmas table.  Any ideas?

DSCN6437 The Christmas things were tamed, but now they’re in a different place, to allow more room for my “play room.”  (There’s still lots of room on the other side too, so the little chickadees are going to get a play room to ride their plasma riders down here too!)


The crystal was safely tucked away months ago when I unpacked.

DSCN6447And unused pieces of furniture were put to good use…


The forest was tamed and covered to keep the dust off.

But here is my FAVORITE fix!!  (I wish I could claim credit for the napkin solution, because it’s SO CLEVER, but no…I got it from Mary at Home is Where the Boat Is.  Isn’t it brilliant?)

1358021484003  Shoe holders!  They’re the PERFECT solution for napkins.  I’ve had this ton of napkins in deep drawers in the buffet, in baskets, on shelves. None was the perfect solution, but I do believe this is going to be!  (I used kids’ shoe holders because they’re the perfect size for folded napkins.)  I’ve wanted to get a clothes hanger for the tablecloths for some time, and NOW was the time.  I have so many tablecloths that it’s always been impossible to store them in one place, and while these aren’t all of them, I was able to free up quite a bit of drawer and closet space by moving the good linen ones down and putting others here too.  I will check with Susan at My Place to Yours—she’s the expert on caring for fine vintage linens—on how to cover them.  I’m pretty sure she’s going to tell me to get rid of the dry cleaner bags.  (Susan, if you’re reading this, please advise!)


1358021483750 So here’s how this spot turned out.  I keep the seasonal placemats I’m using on a regular basis upstairs, but these were tying up valuable drawer space in the dresser under the shelf with stemware.  Now I have EMPTY DRAWERS!!  That means more room for more stuff! :)

So any other suggestions?  How do you store your vintage linens?  Oh, and don’t forget that I’d like some ideas on how to use my new plaid dishes NOW—I don’t want to wait till next Christmas!

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  1. Well I can't believe how much stuff you have. Lucky you have basements over there. Not very many homes in Australia have them,so we have to be strong. If I can't help myself when I see a bargain I have to part with something I already have,usually selling it so I can buy more. LOL
    Your plaid plates are lovely. You could have a St Andrews day dinner (the patron Saint of Scotland)

  2. Wow! You did quite a job! Now it looks very organized and easy to navigate. You are lucky to have so much storage!!!

  3. That sounds like it was exhausting! I know you feel great about your newly organized stuff, I have similar projects on my 2013 to dos. I can see those plaid plates in a wintery tablescape with snowmen or skiing or ice skating theme, and definitely in a gentleman's hunting table or pub style table...

  4. St. Patrick's Day, of course, for the beautiful plaid plates!!! There's green in the design, so you could use dark green chargers, perhaps a white dinner plate, and you're good to go!!! You have done a FABULOUS job with organizing your basement!!!! Feels good, doesn't it? I love the idea of putting the napkins in the shoe holders! I have them in small stackable drawers, but I like that idea much better. Problem is...where to hang the shoe holders??!?!?! I have NO more closet space. One whole walk-in closet hangs nothing but linens here! I love the idea, though, so I'll have to figure something out. I'll "plus 1" you! This is terrific!

  5. I also pinned your shoe holder for napkins photo idea. I love that!!!

  6. I am going to be following your comments closely b/c I bought those same plaid dishes a few days before Christmas and I wanted to do something that wasn't Christmas too. I was thinking and English fox hunt theme with dark tones, leather, etc. Wish I had a hugh basement like that to play in. Our house didn't have a basement so my husband dug one, but I have to duck my head. Your's looks big and spacious and best of call cleaned up! Dianne

  7. Yes, Zuni, I'm here -- and yes, get those plastic bags off of your linens! A quick fix would be to simply lay/wrap a long piece of unbleached muslin fabric around the entire set of tablecloths to keep them dust-free. You can see other linen storage and care tips here:

    I totally understand the thrill of auctions -- and the frustration of box lots! Since we decided to declutter and simplify, I've been staying away from auctions. You did a fantastic job organizing your basement, and it's nice that you still have room for your little ones to play!

  8. Oh how I would love that kind of storage space. Everything looks amazing. Great job. Thanks for joining TTT. Hugs, marty

  9. My garage look a lot like your basement! I'm forever trying to tame that monster!
    Love those plaid plates from PB. I'm crazy for plaid and have a few patterns, but not that one. I used one for an Easter tablescape. I think the photo is on my sidebar. I don't think plaid is just for Christmas, plus tartan week is coming up soon! ~Delores

  10. It is good to see another basement that looks like mine, yours is neater.

    You told me you found the plaid plates at PB after you saw them in my post. Glad you found enough undamaged ones, and you got a great deal, only 3 something each?
    As I said in my post, I plan to use them for St. Pat's and play up the green.

  11. Wow, great job! I moved from a 116-year-old house with a useless basement/dungeon/hole-in-the-ground that I dubbed "the depths of desperation" into a new house with a 1400 square foot basement, 1200 of it finished,and I am delirious with happiness. The unfinished area, I'm proud to say is beginning to look as nice as yours.

  12. Well, my friend, you are very organized and did a great job in that great basemant too!! That is a good way to redeem yourself from buying stuff you don't want, lol..I love the ponch bowl, it's very pretty with that base. The dishes you can use for St. Patrick's Day, for Valentine's Day and anytime you wish..they are a classic and I love the plaid! Great gift from your Sil. Thank you for your lovely and kind visit. I know, I just had yummy plantains and I thought about you; I've been at my daughter's house, I've been there for a week, that's why I haven't posted for a week..hahaha
    Ya, mañana, I also have some bargains! Have a niceweek.

  13. I love this post!!! I only wish I had that kind of space in my basement. Maybe it's better that I don't?

    Just be careful with having the napkins open in the shoe racks. They can get dusty. I keep mine in oversize Ziploc bags - the 2 gallon size.

    And while you'r organizing those tablecloths, put a tag on each as to the size so you're not rummaging through to get the right size.

    Just a few thoughts. Love your collections. Love the title of your post. Don't know that I'll ever tame the monster in the basement.

    - The Tablescaper

  14. So nice to get organized! Thank you for joining Home Sweet Home!


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