Until recently I found my current basement scary mostly because of all the stuff I put down there intending to sell at a yard sale. I procrastinated and didn't have the yard sale. Part of the dread was the dread of facing an unfinished project. Besides it is a little musty and there are mice down there.
Again, I am determined to tidy the whole house, a project I started in January of this year. So I girded my loins and... actually, I didn't. Girding lions sounds like it would hurt. Let's say I put on some grubby clothes, took a deep breath and went down into the Dreaded Basement. Here's what I saw.
The mess was overwhelming. One thing I've learned to do when overwhelmed is to find a place to start. Because I wanted to clean the basement as well as tidy it, the shelves had to come even further from the walls. That way I could clean behind and under them before putting them back. This meant I needed space in the middle of the floor. This meant getting rid of unwanted stuff.
So I started carrying sellable things up stairs into my recently tidied dining room, as incentive to have the danged yard sale this year. Before the holidays. So we can fit people in our dining room. Unsellable things I threw out. Now having space in the middle of the floor I pulled out all the shelves on one side and cleaned behind them. I cleaned the shelves and was selective about what I put back on them. One side done.
The other side had no shelves, just a cluttered mess. I have found that it helps to have designated places for things to land. Everyone is more likely to put them back there if it's clear where they should go. So I drug a pallet from the garden down into the basement to hold bags of pellets for our stove.
Then I used scrap wood to make another pallet to hold all the outdoor recreational items like beach chairs, sleds, boogie boards, golf clubs, fishing rods and tackle. I swept the floor and looked around. It hardly looks like the same place. My husband later went down and sorted through some of his things, adding more to the yard sale stuff in the dining room and freeing up room on the shelves.
If I had sold all those extraneous items last year, the past twelve months would have been less stressful. The Dreaded Basement would not have been so dreadful. This weekend we will have a yard sale for all that stuff. All that does not sell will be donated to charity so our basement can remain tidy, no longer a source of stress.
The deep lesson that comes from the basement is about the stress procrastination brings. Setting things aside to deal with Another Day means those things are there causing guilt and stress. It's better to deal with them in the moment. This is another lesson of Marie Kondo's. Deal with it now. Don't put it off. Dealing with things as they come up leads to a less stressful, more joyful life.