Storage Shelves Makeover | From Overwhelmed to Organized: Storage Shelves Makeover

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Storage Shelves Makeover

We inherited some metal shelves in our basement when we bought this house.  The previous owners used them for canning so each of the shelves is somewhat short.  We've changed what types of items we've stored on them over the years, but their height (or lack thereof!) has always been a bit of an issue.  I like shelves that are big enough to put big bins on so I can keep lots of things organized and accessible but these are too small for those.

Currently the shelves are in the furnace room and things just kind of get crammed in there.  See??

Please ignore the insulation on the wall beside the shelves...this is an unfinished furnace room :)  About these shelves:  we kept a few boxes on them, which was an attempt to organize, but this mess was getting overwhelming!  We've also had problems with overhead water pipes leaking so I really wanted to store everything in plastic bins. 

Here are some closeup shots of the shelves before:

They are a mess!  So, I took everything off the shelves and sorted it all.  I purged some things (garbage, give away, or freecycle), moved some items to other places in the house or garage, and organized what was left into piles (like items with like items). 

The contents of these shelves are a real mish-mash of things, but, once I grouped things, I was better able to see what I needed for bins.  I really needed to look at these shelves with fresh eyes to come up with solutions that work for us. 

I had 4 of the smaller sized Rubbermid bins available because I purged some other items a few weeks before this.  I don't know why I never tried these bins on these shelves before, but I decided to try now, and surprisingly, they fit perfectly on most of the shelves!   Guess those fresh eyes helped :)  So I bought 2 more of these bins (even found the same colour!) and started filling them with groups of like items. 

I grouped all the household bits and pieces of things together:

And gathered golf items & golf memorabilia:

I also put my old Bobbsey Twins books in a bin to preserve them better (my son is starting to like them...they are mysteries after all...and I can't wait until my daughter is a bit older so she can enjoy them too!)

I also had 2 large Rubbermaid bins available (same colour too!) so I grouped camping items (including all those loose jugs/bottles) in one bin and sports equipment in another:

Because I purged so many things from these shelves and grouped things better, I was actually able to fit some items on these shelves that were not able to fit before, including our big cooler (with a beach cooler inside).  It had been "living" on the kitchen counter in the basement, adding to the clutter of the overall basement, so this is a much better home for it!

Now, since the Rubbermaid bins didn't fit on the smallest shelf, I had to think about what to do with that shelf that would still be organized.  I looked into buying smaller bins that were short enough, but they were so much more expensive than big bins and I just couldn't bring myself to spend that kind of money.  Maybe someone can explain to me why a bin that is a fraction of the size of a bigger bin costs 2 or 3 times as much :) 

Then I remembered I had an empty "under-the-bed" storage box that might fit.  I tried it and it fit perfectly!  Fresh eyes to the rescue again :)  This bin just needs to be put in from the side of the shelves because it's so long. 

These baby clothes weren't on these shelves earlier either (they were in another part of our cluttered basement) but they fit perfectly here.  I only kept a few favourite outfits from each of my kids... so cute!  Where does the time go?

Moving on... time to put the bins on the shelves:

Yes, that is duct tape on the bins to label the contents.  It's my secret weapon for labeling bins (both short term until I make pretty labels or long term in places where I don't necessarily need fancy labels).  It sticks really well and it's so easy to use (and secretly I feel a little like MacGyver when I use it!). 

For this space though, I made some nicer labels a little while later.  Here's what the shelves looks like now:

So much better!  I'm really glad to be using the vertical space on the top shelf more than before. Those large bins are perfect and the picnic basket and cooler fit perfectly on top of them and the slim cooler fits beside them. 

The only thing I'm not crazy about is that, because of the pipes from the furnace, I can't put the left bin on the far left (it's too tall).  So, to get it out, I have to move the right bin first. Normally I don't like having to move something to get at something else but in this case we only get into these 2 bins a few times a year so I'm OK with it. 

Here are a couple more "after" shots:


It's great to have nearly everything off the floor!  No more tripping over skates!

Here's a picture of the label I created for these bins. 

So that's it!  These shelves went from completely overwhelming to organized!  Now everything has a place so we can find thing quickly AND put things back where they belong so it stays organized.  It feels so much better!

One last before and after picture:

How about you?  Have you given your storage shelves a makeover lately?  Have you found creative solutions when you've looked with fresh eyes?  I'd love to see pictures of what you're working on as you go from overwhelmed to organized!

Happy organizing!

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