Basement Customization

One of the most necessary and ambitious tasks I’ve taken on since I moved into my house, is figuring out how to make the unfinished basement a purposeful and resourceful storage space. Aside from in the bedrooms, my little home only has one small closet (the one whose bi-fold door I replaced last summer), and it’s only large enough to hold sheets, towels, and basic household cleaning projects, nowhere near enough space for the tools we’d prefer to keep indoors, or seasonal storage.

How to make the most of your basement space.

There are a lot of things to consider if you’re planning to do any remodeling to your basement, and a lot that you can take on yourself.

Keep on reading to see what I’ve done to improve my home, taking it from a 350 sq. ft. wasted space, to a functional and organized extension of our everyday home without spending a lot of money or taking on a major renovation. It’s home improvement in the most practical, and resourceful sense.

1. Open it up.

My unfinished basement felt very partitioned; previous owners had their “game room” section. There was a “laundry room” section. A “bathroom” with a horribly rotten floor and no door. A uselessly wrapped staircase, so nothing could be stored beneath it. I love a nice, open basement, so I gutted the whole thing out (it’s wise to read up on load bearing walls before you do anything rash, mine were clearly not bearing any load, nor were many of them even attached to the ceiling joists or the floor). Removing the “bathroom” surround and the boards that encompassed the underside of the staircase opened up an extra 100 sq. ft. of available space.

2. Build a workbench.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a basement that is large enough to double as tool storage and a large workspace, have at it. My husband and I built 2 large tiered workbenches a few years ago that consume 1/4 of our basement, but allow us a great place to store materials and work on what we love to do most, home improvement projects. They’re built custom to our home, but in such a way that we’ll be able to easily disassemble them into pieces should we ever move. Learn how we built these tables here and here.

How to build a basement workbench.

3. Work the corners. 

Not everyone’s going to have an extra 8-foot piece of scrap countertop laying around, but I did, so just this fall we installed it in one corner of the basement for additional workspace. A ledge was already built around the side of the basement shown here, and most of the weight of the countertop rests solely on that. Scrap 2×4′s were used to support the weight of the front and transform the countertop into more of a table. Let me be the first to say, it was the perfect space to wrap Christmas presents.

Using old countertop for new basement storage.

4.  Build mammoth shelves.

For those of you who don’t have spare laminate countertop, check out one of our latest projects: BAM, that’s a big shelf.

We just built really big shelves for our basement.

These shelves span 10-feet and run floor to ceiling, adding more storage space than we know what to do with. It’ll be a much better place for our extra kitchen appliances and large plastic bins, but we could feasibly store all of our holiday decor and wrapping materials here too, making more room in other parts of the house. Start with a tutorial like this one from DIY Network, and customize it to fit your space.

What are your tried and true approaches to improving your basement?

Catching the home improvement bug at an early age, Emily Winters is a now a devoted DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects she covers on her blog Merrypad range from painting a wall to building a deck, so it’s only natural she landed at You can follow Emily on twitter at @merrypad and like her on facebook at

16 Responses

  1. Lauren says:

    Since, I read many stories about basement conversion, so I decided to call up the remodeling experts from DBN Builder, and modify the look of my basement garage into a study room. If, you too are interested to revamp your home, then you may also call them for quick assessment.

  2. We are moving into a one family house and it has a partially finished basement. We want to make the part that is finished into another bedroom. The only problem is how do we get rid of that musty basement smell? – See more at:

  3. Audrey_1 says:

    When we were moving homes a year back, the first thing that my dad wanted to do was to redesign the whole garage into his man-cave. Ended up something like this and I had no idea how much work went into it!

  4. yes exactly i agreed with "macro" It's always a good idea to see how thick the material is around the areas where you're going to be building cabinets and the like.THanks

  5. MarcioWilges says:

    Moving things around your basement needs to be done with a lot of care, especially if you're intending to make structural changes to the walls. It's always a good idea to see how thick the material is around the areas where you're going to be building cabinets and the like! You never know what chemicals or materials are in the soil and you wouldn't want stuff like that seeping into a living area!

  6. Crisha says:

    We are moving into a one family house and it has a partially finished basement. We want to make the part that is finished into another bedroom. The only problem is how do we get rid of that musty basement smell?

  7. For the luxuries and happy life the education is very important .Time is the very important aspect of life. The education will tells about the time important in the life and also teach how manage time for the luxuries life.

  8. Personally, I'd add a nice, long countertop with spacious cabinets underneath. That should give you room to work on whatever you want and not worry about clutter afterwards.

  9. Paulette says:

    How do you deal with moisture problems in the basement?

  10. [...] 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, [...]

  11. [...] While I was out, a post on basement optimization was shared over on DIY Network. Check it out here! If you like it, share [...]

  12. Jennifer Bernardino says:

    Cubed shelves all the way around the entire room big enough to fit cubbies to store what ever you need and make it look neat and clean :) My dream is to turn my whole house into a pleasanter place to live in for me my son and fiance :) I hope one day :)

  13. Moodyvega says:

    Definitely start looking into purchasing an outdoor shed for storage for your tools and other items. Home Depot, Sears, Ace Hardware or Lowes sell in expensive sheds. I purchase a Do it Yourself and afterwards had plenty of space indoors.

    • merrypad says:

      We have space outdoors for our outdoor-related tools, but having them convenient and accessible is important to us too, which is why we keep whole workbenches loaded and set up for action. Weather is a factor I have to consider in upstate New York (we got a foot of snow today!)

  14. Cecilia Chavez says:

    I do not have a basement but the same idea greatly applies to garages where is usually messy and I imagine anyone could use the great and simple ideas of moving all the stuff to the corners with funny named: mammoth shelves and a counter top, OMG so badly needed… I wonder then, who's got an idea to keep the floor clean..the garage floor is constantly dirty, dusty and just can't get that part right… I am very allergic and can't use a blower…


About Emily Fazio 


I caught the home improvement bug at an early age, and now I'm a full-time DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects I cover on my blog Merrypad range ...

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