One of the goals I set for myself in 2017 was to “make the basement less scary.” I then proceeded to do nothing in the basement for about 10 months. But as I mentioned in our report-back on 2017 goals, I did eventually get my act together and make a little progress — I just haven’t blogged about it yet. If improvement happens in the home but it isn’t shared on the internet, is it even real?
Fortunately for you, today I’m finally sharing a bit about what I’ve been up to. I’ll need a few posts to cover everything, so today I’m starting with the big reorganization I did and then some of the smaller subsequent functional improvements I’ve made as a result.
As you may recall, our basement is essentially organized into four quadrants. When you come down the stairs, to your left is the smallest area, which is where our furnace is plus a really random assortment of other things: my table saw, our cats’ litter boxes, a workbench the seller left behind, and some storage.
If you turn to the right of the stairs instead, you enter our home gym. We’ve done a lot of work in this space — it started out like this when we moved in:
And now it looks like this:
One you’ve walked through the gym, you get to the area that I’ve turned into my workshop. It used to look like this:
Then next to that is the last quadrant, which is where our washer and dryer are, plus our extra fridge (came with the house) and utility sink. Here’s what it looked like when we moved in (the seller left all that stuff behind), and we haven’t done much to it except get rid of the gross curtains and bathmat and swap out the seller’s clutter for our own clutter.
At this point you’re probably wondering how this shining gem of a space could possibly be improved. Well don’t get your hopes up because it’s still a semi-finished basement, but the steps I’ve been taking have been increasing its functionality and improving its aesthetics every so slightly — so it’s a start.
First up, ever since I got my workshop set up, it’s been annoying to have my table saw in the exact opposite corner of the basement. Meanwhile, the space across from my workbench has just been a furniture-hoarding zone for things I swear I’m going to fix up and use someday.
I’ve always wanted to clear out this space and move over the old not-nearly-awesome-as-mine workbench the seller left behind plus the table saw Then I would have all my workshop stuff in one corner of the basement, which would be awesome.
So, one weekend afternoon, I did just that. I donated/got rid of a lot of the unused furniture, and only hung onto a few things to store elsewhere in the basement. Then I moved over the table saw and old workbench — and somehow I managed to move those massively heavy things on my own.
Now the workshop corner is looking like this:
The second workbench across from my main one is a great place to store things, which clears up the surface of my big workbench for doing projects.
And then my table saw is right nearby, on the border to the laundry room portion of the basement (because who doesn’t want sawdust flying into their laundry? yes, I do need to work on my ventilation system…).
While I was at it, I added some functionality. First, this is the ideal corner of the basement for my workshop, but there aren’t any good outlets near the workbench — which obviously makes using power tools a pain. I was sick of using an extension cord from the other side of the room, so I snaked an extension cord up through the ceiling joists and dropped it down right above the workbench. Then I mounted a power strip on the center column of the workbench to make accessing the power nice and easy.
Many power strips come with little mounting holes in the back, so first I placed some screws to align with the holes:
Then I drilled a 1″ hole in the top shelf of the workbench to allow the cord of the power strip to exit easily:
And now the workbench has power!
There is also terrible lighting in this quadrant — just a single bare bulb. That’s not ideal when the sun sets at 4:30pm and you’re using tools that can cuts off body parts if you make a mistake. To remedy this safety hazard, I added two light fixtures. Both are plug in, so I didn’t have to worry about hard-wiring them. The first I bought at Home Depot to hang above my main bench — it’s 3′ long with an LED light source that doesn’t require any bulbs (I have some flourescent lights elsewhere in the basement, and I hate dealing with those bulbs), and a pullchain to make it easy to turn on and off.
It’s made to hang on chains (which it comes with) from the ceiling, which makes it really easy to get it at the right height. I just figured out the right measurements to center it above the workbench, put some hooks into the ceiling that I already had on hand (it did not come with hooks), and voila!
It is plenty bright, and a good price at $30. Now I can safely use power tools all night long!
Above the other bench, I hung a light that my dad and stepmom gave me for Solstice. It’s super handy because it has an outlet on it as well, so it essentially adds light and power to that bench.
The other thing I added to this bench is a vice clamp my dad and stepmom gave me. I bolted into into the surface of the bench.
I’m pretty pleased with how functional the space is now. Having an organized shop makes SUCH a difference. At the end of a project when the space is looking like this:
…it’s easy and quick to clean up because everything has a place. For a neurotic DIY lover like me, that’s pretty much the best of all worlds.
So what does the other corner of the basement look like now that the table saw and workbench are gone?
As a reminder, it looked something like this (though I’d already moved the paint cans and hand tools to the workshop):
And now it looks like this:
The furniture items are just a few pieces that we occasionally use or I think we may use down the road (plus one leftover coffee table from reality TV…) — the rest has been cleared from my home, and it feels so good. But you might be thinking: is that a new floor? Why yes, yes it is! And that’s a story for another day.