Declutter Your Basement

How to sell your home and make a faster, more profitable sale

Basement interior design picturesLight paint colors, neutral area rug and furniture, new flooring, contemporary lighting and storage make this a successful basement renovation.

Declutter your basement then stage it to add value and buyer appeal before you put your home on the real estate market.

Is your basement dark and dreary? Is it a repository for everything that doesn't fit in the rest of your home? Do you dread having to go down there to do your laundry? Well, home buyers will most likely feel the same way.



Creepy basement stairs.Are these your basement stairs? Photo by tdc.dsio6.us

Not all home owners are fortunate enough to have a lovely finished basement. If your basement falls in the "creepy dungeon" category, don't despair!

You don’t need to do a complete basement renovation to sell your home. You just need to make sure your basement is clean, spider webs swept away, and that there are no structural, electrical, or plumbing problems to scare buyers away. Who can afford a complete basement renovation anyway?

According to Homeguide.com, the average cost to finish a basement is $32 to $47 per square foot or between $22,000 and $46,000. A 500 sq. ft. basement remodel costs $20,000, and a 1,000 sq. ft. basement renovation is $38,000 on average. Prices vary, of course, depending on what your design plans are.

Even a basement that's used only for storage will add value to your home, because who doesn't need more storage? 

There are a few interior home remedies you can do to lighten up this space and turn it into extra square footage without having to do a complete basement renovation. Just emptying and cleaning up your basement will help home buyers to see it’s potential. 

Declutter your basement

Decluttering your basement can seem like a daunting task, especially if you have been stockpiling stuff for years. But, the great thing about decluttering is that you get a head start on your packing.

You'll need to assemble boxes, totes, garbage bags, tape and a permanent marker.

Sort everything into groups:

  • Donate
  • Repair
  • Throwaway
  • Yard sale  
  • Move those items you plan to keep to a temporary storage unit.

Declutter your basement by packing up everything else you plan to take your new home by moving it to a temporary storage unit. Take your time; divide the task in short segments to make it more palatable, even if it's only 30 minutes a day.

Bribe a friend to help. Your friend will talk you out of holding onto things you haven't seen or used for years!



Cleaning your basement

Cleaning, painting, removing bad smells and mold, and fixing any structural, electrical and plumbing problems will greatly enhance and add value to your home.

Removing accumulated stuff and creating empty spaces will show buyers the real size and potential of your basement.

  • Remove all the cobwebs and insects, ceiling to floor.

  • Wash windows inside and out until they sparkle. Use my favorite window washing kit, E-Cloth. No window cleaner needed, just water. It CLEANS BETTER than anything I have ever used! Find it here at Amazon.
  • If switch plates are grimy, unscrew from the wall and wash with dish soap. If the grime won't come off, spray with Johnson Scrubbing Bubble Bathroom Cleaner. Let set five minutes, then wipe clean. Replace broken outlet covers-- make sure they all match.
  • If you have appliances in the basement, give them new life by wiping them down, inside and out. This includes; washer and dryer, furnace, air conditioners, water heater, etc. Dusty, dingy appliances will give buyers the impression that they are old and need to be replaced, and they will take note and try to negotiate the price of your house down. 
  • Fix anything that needs repairing; windows, holes in the walls, leaks and squeaky doors. 
  • If your basement is moldy or smells of mildew, see getting rid of mold for help on dealing with this problem.

Basement lighting

It's all about bringing light into a basement. Natural light is always the preferred kind of lighting, but basements of old were never meant to be lived in, so builders were kind of stingy with the window sizes.

So, unless you wanted to saw through thick masonry brick or concrete, you will have to add light by other methods.

  • Remove any window treatments covering really small basement windows. Your goal in the basement is to let in as much natural light in as possible.
  • Take down light fixtures and wash them; insert the highest wattage bulbs allowed. Update your basement light fixtures, if needed.

Painting the basement

Old dark basement with masonry walls.There's a lot of work to be done in the basement. Photo by burnettpainting.com.

Painting a basement wall can be quite complicated if you're painting over brick, stone, or concrete. Before you run out and select your paint, you'll need to see if your walls are waterproof or all your painting will be in vain.

Follow this excellent step-by-step guide from Better Homes and Garden for repairing and repainting a basement masonry wall.

White painted basement.Everything is painted white in this basement area; the floor, walls, and ceiling. See how light the space feels! The furniture is kind of strange, though. Pinterest photo.

When your basement walls are ready to paint, be sure to select a light neutral color. Light colors have the effect of "visually" expanding the size of a small space. This is why home stagers always use light neutral colors in home decorating.

Be sure to paint the ceiling in a light color as well. A light color will visually "raise" a low ceiling.

If you want to make a room feel cozy and intimate, a dark color will fulfill this purpose. This is why you often see dining rooms and powder rooms in dark colors. 

A great way to improve the appearance of concrete basement floors is to paint them. See the instructive video below by ppgprofessional for directions on how to clean, prep and paint concrete floors.

Build shelving units or closets for storage

White cabinets and shelves.Install some storage units in your basement. You can find this cabinetry at closetworks.com.

Show home buyers that there is room in the basement for their stuff by installing shelving units or closets for storage.

Installing a unit like this will demonstrate how useful this space is; buyers often find an empty room confusing.

Improving a basement laundry area

Dingy basement laundry area.Imagine doing your laundry in a room like this! At least it's a short walk to the bathroom. Photo by zellers.lawrenceville.

Most of us have seen the movie, "Home Alone."

Recall the scene where "Kevin" goes down to the basement to do laundry and meets up with the scary furnace! That's what this picture reminds me of. We can improve on this...

Basement laundry area.Buyers will love this organized area for laundry. It doesn't look scary at all!

Laundry cabinetry like this can be found at your nearest home improvement center.

This is not fancy, it's simply a clean and organized area to do laundry without fear. Home buyers will love it!

See ideas for staging your basement here

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Staging the basement