Creating storage space in basement floor plan

February 16, 2012

After eight years of saying it…we've finally started taking some steps to finishing our basement.

Very little has been accomplished so far, but when you’ve waiting eight years for something this big, it’s the little things that make you giddy. Well maybe not you…but me. And it was the smallest thing we did today has rocked my world.

A few weeks ago, I shared the very rough plans I came up with for our basement:

finished basement floorplan

See that area in the top left? That one is the space that I’ve been trying to figure out for months.

I want to fit all kinds of STUFF in that small area. Our sump pump is over there, so I knew it would be a great spot for the washer and dryer, but I wanted it to be a REAL laundry area – with plenty of space to fold and hang.

And birds singing and butterflies twittering about. Cause it’s going to be that amazing.

It also has to house the exercise stuff, my craft table and supplies, AND all of these:

playroom in unfinished basement

Approximately 85 storage bins.

OK, not that many. It just looks like it. (And I’ve even gotten rid of some since this pic!)

The guys that are doing most of the work in our basement came by last week to discuss where to start, and one of them looked at the space under our stairs. Until recently, it looked like this:

toy storage unfinished basement

That space under the stairs used to be the spot where I stored our extra doors that I’ve taken down in the house.

I hung muslin along the wall to hide the not-so-pretty, and the Bub’s toy shelves were along the wall too.

We’ve since rearranged a lot of things down here and gotten rid of a LOT of things and I moved all those doors to the crawl space.

Because of the little change they made today, it now looks like this:

creating storage under stairs

Do you hear singing? No? Just me?

Not cute at all. But TOTALLY functional. Well, it will be. :) It took the guys all of two minutes to cut down a stud (around the corner) so I could get bins inside.

WHY did I not think of this before?

They’re putting another doorway in tomorrow, at the end to the left up there. So I’ll have two spots to access everything underneath.

I cannot even believe how many bins I got in that space!! It’s all of my Christmas stuff (except the trees) and some other storage bins.


It won’t be quite as easy to access everything, but I am SO OK WITH THAT. I figure I need this stuff twice a year – once to get it out, once to put it away.

I still have a few more bins, and they will go in another storage spot we thought up today.

Here’s the layout with the minor change that’s going to give me a storage closet:

basement finishing plans

See the red lines? That little spot in the corner will be a storage room. A STORAGE ROOM people.

I could cry.

It will actually be a bit wider than what you see on the layout.

All along I had planned on all of those bins being stacked around this room like they've always been. I didn’t think it was possible I could get them all away, out of sight.

But that little corner was the perfect spot, and uses the space more efficiently. It only took us a couple months to figure it out. :)

If we were paying a company to come in and do everything start to finish, they would have come up with this from the start I’m sure. But we’re piecemealing this project out – little bits at a time. So I’m the contractor. And it takes me some time, obviously. ;)

I am crossing my fingers that the storage space will be big enough for our mongo Christmas tree bags and the few additional bins. (If it’s not, I’m purging more stuff.) I’m also hoping that if there’s room, I can maybe install some shelves around the room for extra paper goods and supplies:

It doesn’t look like much now, but tomorrow…well, it still won’t look like much. But it will be framed in, so it’s progress and that’s all that matters.

They’re starting by framing out this area because that big black wire on the floor is going to a new electrical panel that will be dedicated to just the basement. We had no more room on our house panel so it had to be done. We also just wanted to have all of the electrical for the basement located in one spot.

They are going ahead and framing out the bathroom and the storage room so the panel can be installed. And with that all up, then I can figure out the size for my laundry room.

I have a plan for my craft stuff that I hope to show you soon. I was going to wait till the basement was finished to do it, but I came up with what I hope is a brillz idea, so we’ll see.

We’re hoping next month we’ll go ahead with the rest of the framing of the basement. Can you even believe it?? I wonder if I should say those words out loud…I could jinx myself.

We’re doing it all in phases – paying the guys to frame it out, then do all the electrical, then plumbing, hang drywall, flooring and trim work. I think they’ll do all of it except for the mudding and taping of the drywall. (I want that to be done by drywall-only folks, so it’s done really well.)

So, it will take a while. I’m guessing six months, but it very well could be longer. We hope to budget some towards it every month till it’s done.

This way, with me overseeing each step, it’s going to be MUCH cheaper. Not as cheap as if we did it ourselves, but much better than paying a contractor to organize it all.

I think it will be fun.

All I know is I’m expecting a whole lotta disaster before it gets better. It’s already started -- my hubby’s below-ground office that usually looks like this:

Now looks like this:

And I know that’s nothing. I’m already preparing for the dust that will cover the entire basement.

So there’s step one – really all it is so far is that I’ve figured out storage solutions. But I think the first step in this process will go down as one of my favorites. I’m SO happy I won’t have to look at bins for the rest of my days. :)

Have any of you taken on a project like this yourselves? Have you ever acted as the contractor instead of hiring it out? Taken months to do what could be done in a few weeks? Any advice for me?

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  1. Congratulations! It 's going to be a beautiful baby!

  2. Love it!! How exciting for you - you will feel like you have a new house! Thanks for showing it from start to finish - it encourages me while I am facing our basement redo. I love that you did the plans on your own - did you use an online tool or program? If so, would you mind sharing ;-)

  3. Lol--I completely understand your enthusiasm. I can't wait to see the progress!

  4. Hooray! My husband and my brother in law just framed our first basement wall and I still just smile every time I go down there. Congratulations!

  5. How exciting to get the project started. It's going to be beautiful.

  6. How exciting!! You are going to have a beautiful space when you're done!

  7. Yay! So awesome! Hubs and I finished off the basement recently. Just me and him. Him and me. Mostly him. ;)

    We were in such a hurry-- we hurried our buns off. I remember the weekend before the carpet coming in and we had to finish all the trim and painting. . I'm like, crying with paint all over and I didn't wanna make one more trim cut, lol.

    It's worth it!! You'll be so happy about your new space. And the new space to clean. . . sigh. . . ;) ;)

  8. So happy for you! One step closer! Yay!

    You just gave me the solution to my problem! I "fixed up" my unfinished basement for my kids to play in and I didn't know how to hang any artwork because of the concrete walls. Now I'm going to hang it the way the picture is hanging in your husbands "office". Gracias!!


  9. I actually LOVE your husband's office area...really pretty mix of unfinished and fancy, but masculine, too. I've been begging my husband to let me make him an office; this picture might just convince him :)

  10. How thrilling!! It's going to be like you put an addition on your house by the time it's done! I love our basement so much - and it gets used EVERY day. I can't wait to see your plan come to life! :-)

  11. so excited for you!!! can't wait to see the process and it all come together. :)

  12. I bet this is so exciting to begin this process! And I love that you're taking a big role on in the planning. :) It might take a while, but you'll be so pleased in the end!

  13. I took on a similar project for our basement years ago (and three houses ago). My only advice since (you mostly live upstairs anyways) is take your time and communicate your needs really well. BY the way all your talking of mud rooms, has me building my mudroom built-ins. Thanks for the extra work Sarah. ;)

  14. You are going to love it. We finished our basement last summer/fall and it's the only room we use now.

  15. Looking good so far. How fun!

    Since I'm more or less building out my mother-in-law's basement at the same time as you (I started a few weeks ago, working weekends here and there), it would be greatly appreciated if whenever your contractor drops a little nugget of unexpected knowledge on you if you would relay it to us masses. I really have very little idea what I'm doing on our project (aside from how to assemble the walls and whatnot - a lot of details I'm just working out on my own).

    Anything you could relay that might stop me from having to re-invent the wheel at every turn would be awesome. Of course, no pressure - looks like you'll have your hands full as it is!

    -Jimmy @ thebookofjimmy

  16. How exciting! I would love to have a basement, but we're in Texas where the water table is too high for that sort of thing...

    Have fun with it!

  17. Yay, Sarah! I am so happy for you! It's going to be such an amazing space. Me and the Bub are going to have some great times down there! :)

  18. Having that extra finished space will be such an awesome addition to your home! You'll love it! (but it appears you already know that :) )

    We finished our basement last year, and I blogged about things we learned in the process, and tips to keep in mind if you're finishing your basement, too.

    Since you asked for advice, I thought I would pass it along:

    Enjoy the process - I can't wait to see how the space turns out! :)


  19. You are going to love having a finished basement! (More to decorate and play with - heh heh!). I'm in the process of hiring a contractor to help fix some drywall from a plumbing issue and also help me put up shelves in my pantry (thanks for the inspiration). We also want to put in a bathroom and finish off a bedroom in our basement, so will definitely be following you. Our only problem is that the previous owner finished off walls... but didn't put in plumbing, so I have a feeling we will have to rip things apart a bit first. It's exciting though!

  20. Can't wait to see updates and the end result.

  21. it's getting a bit creepy (our similarities that is...considering your last post and now this one)! 9 years ago when we built our house we had to finish the basement asap for the hubby's office (he works from home)...Going over the plans with the carpenters they had the space under the stairs walled-in...oh no! I told them I wanted a door would be GREAT storage. And...for 9 years I have stored all my Christmas stuff in there. I even have a pencil tree that I keep the lights on and put in there last. That space stays miraculously clean...and although I have to pull everything out it's only once a year and the rest of the year it's neatly packed away behind door #1 (hee hee) I also had them put in a bank of closets with sturdy shelves across and L shaped wall to put toys. I figure someday...sniff...when we don't have toys to store I can store other items in there. I'm sure you're basement will be so much more stylish than mine when you finish you're welcome to come over and give mine a "spruce"! The hard part is already done. :)

  22. WooHoo! This post gives me hope for our basement...we have MUCH more work ahead of digging up the floor and re-pouring the concrete. BUT we do have a nice computerized floor plan like you, that gives me hope :) Good Luck!

  23. Yay for not having to deal with drywall mud. We had to redrywall our basement to insulate the bottom half of the walls and mudding is an awful task! Having usable basement space is awesome, especially now that you don't have a door on there. (Do you need the door up temporarily though to hold the dust downstairs?)

  24. I'm actually at the same exact point. They started digging for our bulkhead door last night and framing on our basement starts tomorrow!!

    I can't wait till it is all done so I can start decorating!!

  25. getting our dirty laundry from the upper level to the washer is a giant stinky pain...oh how i wish I had a laundry chute...something I wish I had done while I had open floor joists...

    just a thought.

    loving watching your journey!

  26. Exciting times for you. At first I thought you were going to say you are leaving the bins there and installing sliding barn doors!


  27. oh I can feel your basement joy! When we moved into our new house, they were just finishing off the basement. We LOVE it! we use it all the time, and it, theatre room, family room, exercise room, storage etc It's heavenly. After seeing your post this am, I have instructed hubs to pick up a storage shelf unit at Costco to organize our under stair area =) Looking forward to watching your basement come together!!

  28. I've never undertaken quite that much of an experience, but we're right smack dab in the middle of a complete bathroom gut and remodel - including moving two walls! And we're doing it all ourselves. Well, kind of. We flew my Dad out to help with it. He was the county building inspector for 35 years, and laid tile as a side job, so he's got all the experience for us to rely on! I'm super excited to have an awesome before/after to share at your next party!

  29. So exciting to get work started on your basement!!! Excited to watch the work from start to finish!!! Thanks for sharing!!! The storage space will be soo nice!

  30. Its going to be so nice! We have been remodeling our kitchen. One morning back in the fall my Husband woke up and said "I'm going to tear out the kitchen today!" I was so excited! We hated that kitchen for so long, and finally this weekend we are getting a new floor put in which is the last step. I am so beyond excited its crazy! LOL. So I know exactly how you feel. :)

  31.! Oh, yeah, I would be giddy about the Christmas bin storage space as well! And, a storage room? What is that like? ;-) In Cali, where I live, there are NO basements! For a midwestern girl like me, that has been a HUGE adjustment. People use their garages like basements. I know! Can you imagine?
    You are a lucky girl! I can't wait to see how your project unfolds in the coming months. I know it will be fabulous! Have a great weekend, and revel in the giddiness!!

  32. Very worthy of excitement! Woohoo! Storage spaces are REALLY exciting! My in-laws left one whole room unfinished in their house and put all the stuff (neatly)in that one room. IT WAS TO DIE FOR - honestly one of my dream rooms. It would prevent stuff falling of of closet on me when I open the door.

  33. We are actually in the middle {beginning} of finishing our basement! I am a little nervous about starting such a major project but excited to see it finished.

  34. OOh I'm so happy to see someone else going through the same thing!! We are in the process of doing our basement as well and like you have been waiting awhile! We just finished the framing and are hoping to move on to the electrical in the next few weeks. So exciting! I think it's a great idea to work as your own contractor and space things out. And this is sooooo much easier than a kitchen:) You can just shut the door and clean it up later because yes, the dust is bad (and we haven't even reached the drywall part!)!! Looking forward to seeing your progress ~

  35. Yay!!! Good luck!!! We are long term renting a home that has a large finished basement (2 bedrooms, front room, Living room, master bathroom, and a full kitchen, laundry room) BUT NO STORAGE ROOM! ACK! I'm jealous of your clever storage solutions in your basement. For now, my storage is in the garage and closets throughout the house. yuck. jealous! :)

  36. I loved having a finished basement. It really made the whole house complete. Good luck and enjoy the journey to your new space, it will be worth it all!

  37. We finished our basement 2 years ago but really just "finished" the last of the shoe molding last month. I subbed out myself the sheetrock and plumbing but we did electrical, drop ceiling, flooring, and trim ourselves (as in hubby and me--and we didn't kill each other.) Are you doing a heat pump/HVAC? We finished about 1000 square feet in basement and was worth the money to have a separate unit put it. It actually made our main level more energy efficient as well. Just a thought.

  38. I think you are going to want to put that basement door back up! it will help keep the noise and dust down there! Good luck!

  39. Yeah for you! You will LOVE having your basement finished! We completed our (and I use that term very loosely since the kitchen isn't done yet, but hey who's complaining right?) basement just over a year ago. We did all the work ourselves except the drywall. We hired that out, and they also did the mudding and taping. You will save a ton to do what you can on your own. I got a bid for painting because at that point we were burnt out and over the DIY, but the bid came back so high it was crazy. We sucked it up and did the painting too. One piece of advise I will give-ok two, talk to your neighbors with similar floorplans and see what they've done if they have finished basements. We did that and got a lot of really great ideas from our neighbors. Also-take as much as you can out of the basement. It will get SOOO dirty and dusty from the construction mess. It will be worth it to lose a space in your garage for a few months. Also-everything always takes longer than you think, but you are already an expert there! Wink! Good luck-so worth it! We use our basement Best investment we made in our house. Oh-and we paid cash. It took forevea and a day to finish but so glad it's all paid for!

  40. We did the same thing. It took two, yes, two years to complete. It's great! I only thing that bothered me was the dust. It was all over the place. So plan on dusting a lot. it turned out great and it's such a great feeling now torelax in a space you created.

  41. Looks like it is going to be awesome!! I love that you will get a whole laundry room - very jealous!

    We finished our basement 8 years ago, and then three years ago we changed things around to make every single inch functional. We had a window blown out and everything (insanely messy! but added sooo much more light) I created a homework room that I am redoing into a craft space right now and I made a play area under our stairs. I love getting to use every inch and looks like you will be doing the same!! Looking forward to seeing your progress. And I love that you are doing it slow as you can budget it! Thrifty is the first word of your blog name after all :-)

  42. You are going to have a beautiful space when you're done!

  43. So exciting!! I would die to have a storage room!! Can't wait to see what you do with it :-)

  44. Congratulations! Hubby and I built a house, acting as the contractors--fortunately with someone who HAD a clue advising us along the way.
    At the time we were living with his parents. Oh--and I was pregnant.
    Between the hormones and the living with the in-laws and the contractor headaches and the sweat equity and...well, suffice to say if our marriage survived that it should survive ANYTHING.
    But you're right: That first step is SO monumental--and swwweeeet!

  45. It will be fun to follow along on this project. I think it must be a great benefit for you to glean tips & advice from the comments.

    My husband is a builder/contractor [contracting out all the various jobs.] as well as a drywall hanger (installer) He doesn't do much drywall finishing, he has specific finishers who do that part. I will be happy to ask him any of your questions.

    I admire the fact that you are thrifty & not going in to big debt. :) Even in a large job like this. A girl after my own heart.

  46. Renovations are never easy, but the results will be amazing! I can't wait to watch for the other 586 steps {wink}.

    Lesli :)

  47. How exciting for you! I am completely jealous of your basement since it is probably the size of my entire house! I cannot wait to see the finished room!

  48. This is an amazing feat! I was looking for inspiration before I tackled my own basement project. Thanks!

  49. Congrats on starting this project. I was the General Contractor on our 2nd floor reno a few years ago. You'll be completely organized, but your subs won't care quite as much as you do. I called all of my subs every week and let them know how the schedule was going, even if they weren't up for a few weeks. I think it helped, because ours is the only project I know that's been finished on time and on budget! I pray the same for you.

  50. We've been finishing our basement since we moved in four years ago. No contractors either. We do all the work. It is being done in steps but that's ok. Someday it will be done and we won't know what to do with ourselves. LOL I completely understand your excitement. Congrats on getting started!

  51. "Taken months to do what could be done in a few weeks?" Yes'm. Story of my life. But I DO enjoy doing things myself. So far, I have not been GC on a project - I've only done the little stuff (painting, wallpaper, wee bit of crown molding, wee bit of demo, repairing walls). When we redo our kitchen (this year, I hope! I have to get a move on sourcing materials) I will be GC/assisting labor. I will need a plumber for a day, and carpenter for rather longer than that. It will be exciting and scary. But I'm not starting it until after I hear how things work out with your basement :).

  52. Thank you for sharing! We are getting ready to finish our basement after 9 years! I will be following your progress for we will be going through it the same time. Keep the tips and pics coming! I am a little nervous to be the general contractor. I know I have to be organized and stay on top of things!!


  53. Congratulations on getting started! It took us about four years, and counting, to (almost) complete our basement. We did it all ourselves, and living in a dusty work in progress, has made life interesting. But, I should be use to that by now! Good luck, and I can't wait to see the progress!

  54. How exciting! I am so jealous.

  55. WAY TO GO! It looks sooo good.
    I pinned it on Pinterest and immediately it got 37 Repins.

    You hit it just right!

  56. I made a craft table in my basement this weekend also, for my table top I bought an unfinished door at Lowes (20.00) and stained it, for the base I used 2 Kraftmade cupboards with doors.

  57. Oh how I LONG for a basement!!!!!!!!!
    No such luck down here in 'Bama. :-(
    May I come up there and do craft projects in yours?


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