Check Out Our DIY Basement Shelving System

January 25, 2013   //  Posted in: Basement, Organized   //  By: Emily   //  6 responses

Reorganizing all of our Christmas trimmings put us over the edge, you could say. Or maybe it was caused by an onslaught of new toolage, wedding shiz, or plain hurriedness and laziness. I did just use the word shiz in relation to our wedding, yes, so classy, I blame the flu. In any case, something like that left most of our basement looking like this:

Yikes, what happened down there?

I should really preface this whole post with a note that no matter what time of day I photograph the basement, it always looks a lot like a place I’d be hiding a body. I hope you’re not labeling me as that type of person, but it never looks much better than this with the cement walls and worn cement floor, mass amounts of florescent lighting, scrap materials from previous projects, and lotsa detergent. Why we keep the paint coated grout mixing bowl next to the bleach though, beyond me, and that little black lampshade on the shelf next to the SHOUT has sat there since 2009. True story, it’s dusty, I’m awesome.

Onwards with some good organizational practices, time to make that same corner of the basement look more like this: BAM. Get the full plans, measurements, and details from my husband’s blog, right here.

Basement shelving makeover.

You might have already caught a peek of it in this post on DIY Network. It came together pretty rapido, all-in with just about 4 hours of labor. See, there’s plenty of space in the basement to store everything we desire, but we really needed a way to build upwards and stack lesser-used items (like, boxes of ornaments, extra kitchen appliances, rarely-used tools) and a big, rough shelf felt like a good, affordable solution. Some of those metal contraptions can seem expensive and be a little rickety when you’re demanding a lot from them, but there are a lot of other ways to get organized.

One good thing about the house is that our unfinished basement leaves us access to the first floor’s floor joists, and we were able to secure six 2x4s vertically directly to the joists to make a really sturdy outer frame. We happened to be able to get away with using 8′ boards cut down to around 7′ for this vertical run. I won’t go into the nitty gritty measurements of this unit (it’s roughly 7′ x 10′ x 2.5′) because ours was definitely custom to suit our house, and like most other things in life, I’m sure no one else’s house is precisely the same. The thing to take away here is that the unit is in no way attached to the wall of the house, it floats merely inches off away from it, resting on the ground and attached only to the joists.

We took lumber length into account when planning the unit’s overall width and used 10′ boards because the space we had available between the basement toilet (in one corner) and the washer/dryer (in the opposite corner) nicely accomodated that size of a structure. The cabinet that you saw in the very first picture in this post is actually on its way to the trash as I write, it’s pretty old, grimy, and rickety and I don’t have any reason to breathe life into it again. Sayonara!

The new unit took shape pretty quickly; we built three “shelves” to suit the dimensions of our vertical frame, sized to fit within (well, 4 if you count the floor as a shelf). Each of the three shelves were screwed together, supplemented with a series of braces for added reinforcement. And everything was level. Very level.

Creating basement shelves out of basic 2x4 boards.

Note for a second how we planned the spacing between the shelves: using one of our larger plastic storage bins as a template for height, we worked to make sure that every shelf would be able to accomodate something of that same height. There would be no more stacking of plastic bins, each will have their own space on our big basement shelf of fun.

Installing basement shelves to accomodate large plastic bins.

The surface area of each shelf also came into account when we were planning the size of the unit. Specifically, we hoped to only have to buy two big sheets of 4’x8′ OSB, which is what we did in this case, and cut it to size in our driveway. When you’re talking about 1) buying OSB that runs $15-$20/sheet and 2) trying to drive it home from the hardware store on the roof of a Jeep in January, you’re going to want to know exactly how it’ll be cut down beforehand. You are not going to want to have to go back to the store for more.

Cutting the shelves to size in the driveway.

Our measurements maximized our investment perfectly, and the solid shelves quickly came to be.

Installing the shelves for our new basement DIY storage.

Bonus, next time we have company, we can offer the space as bunk beds. Right? Right. Julia has already weaseled herself right on up to the top bunk, which won’t be possible for long since it’s going to be l-o-a-d-e-d soon enough, but just a noteworthy consideration, because if you have have small children, you might want to consider ways to baby proof your massive structure so they’re not goin’ all jungle gym while you’re loading the dryer.

The shelves were screwed into place in case we ever want to move them and are ready to be maxed out, pronto.

Basement shelving makeover.

  • Maria Cartwright
    5 years ago - Reply

    That is EXACTLY what I want to put in my basement. What a difference it makes! Great job!

  • Staci @ My Friend Staci
    5 years ago - Reply

    Welcome back!!!
    The bunk bed part made me laugh out loud! I haven’t conquered any storage solutions in 2013 so far (although I have my eye on a total reorganization of our bedroom closet!) but I did a COMPLETELY different project using OSB!

  • lynn
    5 years ago - Reply

    just imagine.. when you are done, you can paint the floor and it will look amazing! good going so far! I like the idea. we have something similar in the understairs pantry at moms house (where i live now).
    Kudos on getting started!

    • Emily
      5 years ago -

      Thanks Lynn! I agree with the painting the floor idea!

  • Papi
    2 years ago - Reply

    Wait, is that a toilet in the background? Is it hooked up?

    • Emily
      2 years ago -

      Yes, and yes. For some reason, basement toilet plumbing is common in this style of home. I don’t know much about it, but I know that I really miss the convenience of a basement toilet at our new home. :)

Leave a Comment