A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

Subterranean Relief and Reuse

It’s hot and humid, and while we thankfully have central air conditioning, we certainly don’t want to work on any projects outside. So recently we’ve been turning our efforts to the basement, which had become rather disorganized ever since our attic remodel last summer (it’s been a year since the contractor finished up with us—that just blows my mind!).

I couldn’t find any photos, but trust me, it was a mess.

We gathered up some things to donate to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Gurnee and set them aside for a future trip (we already donated the vinyl windows we removed from the attic).

On a couple recent visits to Costco, I saw some nice, heavy-duty shelving units for $60 apiece. They were too heavy for me to handle alone, so last weekend Pete and I went back and bought two of the last 3 units they had.

They’re made by Whalen. I think this is the model. If you can find them, I’d recommend them: each (black melamine) shelf holds up to 1500 lbs. I saw a similar model at Office Depot for over $100, so it looks like a great deal.

I already claimed a couple shelves for paint but still need to go through the rest of the cans on the floor and see if some need to be dropped off at the next local household chemical waste collection.

Under the stairs where I used to store the paint, everything has been recycled and reused:

  • The white base cabinet came from my old office space
  • The stacked bins were our recycling center waaaay back when we used to have to sort everything
  • The laminate counter remnant first came from the old house, then I used it in my office and now it’s here
  • The little corner wall cabinet is from our kitchen but is fairly useless and didn’t fit into the new layout
  • The tall metal cabinet on the right came from my childhood house and is from the early 1970s

All of this storage is for my paint and wood refinishing supplies. It makes me very happy.

We moved the treadmill, which used to face the stairs above, into the finished part of the basement and rearranged the furniture to hide it a little (on the left behind the couch). While the couch faces away from the pool table, it now faces toward the fake fireplace and TV so I think this will work better. It’s also much more pleasant to use the treadmill there rather than inhaling kitty litter fumes in its previous spot.

Finally, we removed the old basement door, which I plan to strip and use in the upstairs laundry room, and Pete installed this steel door which the contractor had from a previous job and was going to toss. He used it temporarily in our attic to help keep the dust down.

It had no doorknob, but we scored there too and got a really nice sample that someone we know was going to toss.

All the door needs is some elbow grease to clean it up along with some weatherstripping and it should be good as new.

It’s so satisfying to reuse a bunch of old things that would have normally been tossed into a landfill long ago. They are perfectly functional and will be well utilized here!


  1. Devon on July 24, 2010 at 7:13 am

    I have those same shelves from Costco (three sets), and I agree that they’re extremely sturdy and a great value.

    Thanks for the post about reusing so many things! I’m a black belt recycler and have “reduce” under control, but my creative reuse skills are still being developed.

  2. Mom on July 24, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Wow! the basement looks great. Guess I’ll have to stop by today (coffee time?) to take a look, if you’re available.

  3. Anne on July 27, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Great work! You definitely get an A for recycling.

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