How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Basement Purge Reveal


One month, 70 hours, 4 separate trash piles and donation loads, and 3 tubs full to each of my girls later, I have finally organized my basement "stuff"! This is how I spent my summer vacation - well, all of August, anyway. This is part of a series in my ongoing quest to . See my blog link for more, as well as posts here on Hometalk.
First, let me define my stuff:
Inventory for resale (antique dealer), household things moved into my marriage 11 years ago, children's nostalgia (they're married adults now), work and grad school history, miscellaneous & obsolete electronics.
The wall of shame
This "stuff" didn't happen overnight, and the perimeter grew with each new auction or estate sale over the years. Boxes would come in, get numbered, and be identified by key words of items in those boxes, or by the event title (eg., xyz estate sale).
Middle of floor, with "stuff" growing
What I learned after a month of working through my basement is I have a touch of ADCD - attention deficit CLEANING disorder. I started off with one intended project of reorganizing my resale inventory, and the project immediately snowballed into purging old containers and reorganizing most of the basement (and a couple closets I was using for overflow) contents - whether it was 1, 11 or 21 year old stuff. I was easily sidetracked with little to show for my effort the first few weeks. I persevered.
More "stuff" in floor, from opposite angle
I also learned there is a HUGE amount of stuff in this world. I like the fact that I buy mostly used stuff. And I'm getting better at getting rid of stuff - especially someone else's!
Foodstuffs artwork - 21 yrs old!!!
I even had foodstuffs - artwork, that is. Did you know macaroni, dried beans and pretzels have a shelf life of more than 21 years?! Yes, and my house must be pretty airtight because, thankfully, I had no bugs or mice. (Btw, I took photos and trashed these).
Typical week's worth of donations
By the time I finished (are we EVER finished?) with this project, I had four consecutive weeks of donations and trash that looked like each of the photos here.
Typical week's worth of trash, bags & boxes
Okay, with all that said, the following are a few photos of the fruits of my labor.
I purchased 3 shelving units from Sam's
I purchased 3 commercial shelving units from Sam's - they were pretty easy to put together, even by myself. They hold up to 1500 lbs each, if you don't use the casters.
My wall of fame
After the purge, I organized my wall of tubs, categorized by types of items (eg., metals, glassware, transferware, etc.). The boxes you see on the shelves are items ready to go to either our booth space or upcoming barn sale.
The remaining floor "stuff" - barn sale ready
What remains on the floor space is now ready for sale. I'm a happier camper and sometimes just go to the basement to look at less "stuff". I'm thinking a roller rink might be good option - I even have a vintage pair of roller skates I could use - I think they're in the metals tub. ;)

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Rita C. - Panoply

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4 of 79 comments
  • Gini
    on Sep 2, 2015

    After 25 years in my house I am downsizing. It is amazing the things we accumulate, but you should try and clear out an airplane hangar when your husband passes. Oh the stuff. You name it and it probably was out there. Because of the room, whatever someone had and didn't need it found it's way there. But I've just about finish after 4 years. Even had a guy from an art fair come over and loaded up his trailer with STUFF. That was a good feeling. Can see the light at the D&D of the tunnel now. Hopefully my house will sell soon.

    • Rita C. - Panoply
      on Sep 2, 2015

      @Gini , oh my goodness, you must feel a HUGE weight lifted with what had to feel like an overwhelming project on so many levels. Congratulations on nearing your finish, and best wishes for a quick sale of your home. And best wishes in your new home and next chapter in life.

  • PAMELA
    on Nov 3, 2016

    WHY TO GO.. I AM ABOUT TO HAVE A BREAKDOWN..I DON'T HAVE THAT MUCH STUFF, BUT I WANT TO USE A SLEDGE HAMMER ON THE WRAP AROUND DESK, MY SORRY X LEFT BEHIND..BUT I HAVE MY DESK TO COMPUTER AND PRINTER AND PHOTOS AND COOL STUFF ON IT...BUT IT MAKES ME SICK TO HAVE HIS DESK AND CHAIR UPSTAIRS.. I THINK I'LL DECIDE HOW I WANT THE TWO ROOMS UPSTAIRS TO BE SET UP..AND GET SOME STAPPING YOUNGSTERS TO HELP ME GET IT OUT OF MY LIFE. MY HEART IS STILL BROKEN THE LOUSE TOOK MY HALF OF THE AIRPLANE I PAID FOR..WHEN I WAS SICK.. HE TOOK OFF.. I DON'T WANT TO HAVE A BUNCH OF STUFF FOR MY SON TO DEAL WITH ...CAUSE GETTING OLDER IS A REALITY.. THANKS FOR LETTING ME SHARE.. CAPS HELPS ME SEE CLEARLY!!

    • Rita C. - Panoply
      on Nov 3, 2016

      PAMELA, I'M ONLY REPLYING IN CAPS BECAUSE YOU SAID IT HELPS YOU SEE CLEARLY. FEEL FREE TO GET IT OFF YOUR MIND BY VOICING. IF YOU ARE ALSO ON FACEBOOK, THERE"S A WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL SUPPORT GROUP PAGE THERE CALLED 40 BAGS IN 40 DAYS (OFFICIAL). IT'S A CLOSED GROUP THAT YOU NEED TO SEND A REQUEST TO JOIN, BUT THERE ARE MANY JUST LIKE YOU WHO HAVE BENEFITTED FROM DISCUSSION AS WELL AS ACTION IN PURGING. GOOD LUCK!

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