Holy smokes, our basement renovation is finally complete. It’s been two long, crowded, and disorganized months since we’ve been babbling about the Windy City flood, which wreaked all sorts of havoc on our neighborhood. I know. I can’t believe it’s October and we’re still talking about it. For kicks, here’s how we found our storage unit at July’s end. We can blame the high waters for the toppling bins, kind of.
Yikes. If you’ve been following our soggy saga from the beginning, we’re glad to have had you around. If not, you’ll see where it all started here, our design dilemma here, and that time when things started to look like a George Romero film over here. And while we started to see some progress towards summer’s end, dare I remind you what our office has looked like since July?
Most recently we shared this sneak peek, and of course we’re bursting to finally be able to show you this happy gem, the big, fat finale, right here:
So now that you’ve seen the final product of all of our hard work, you may be wondering about all those behind-the-scenes details that brought it all together. After all, our solutions were planned carefully (time certainly allowed for it!), and we feel like we used our resources and this unfortunate opportunity to purge a few things (some good, some bad) and make much better use of our tiny storage closet. Off we go.
It all started at our local Home Depot. The staff there is usually pretty great, and this trip was no exception. We snagged a pile of two-by-fours and a nice 4’x8′ sheet of 1/2″ thick plywood, which we had an HD staffer cut down for us on the panel saw. Keep in mind that if you’re not too handy with power tools or have space constraints, big box hardware stores can usually make cuts for you. For only a buck a cut (and the first 2 cuts are free), the ease and accuracy of this big guy saved us invaluable time and hassle. Four precision cut slabs later (to be used as our shelves), we were off to a good start.
After taking measurements of our unit, we started first by creating our cleats. Using this fella, we simply made 45 degree angle cuts at the inside edges of our two-by-fours. (On a side note, the answer to your question is a resounding yes! The new saw is everything I dreamed of and more. Next on the wish list? A work bench.) 5 minutes later, the cleats were ready to be installed. Side note: We also cut the struts for the actual shelves at this point, but those were a simple measure and chop job with no angle cuts required. More on this later.
With all of the lumber cut, edges sanded, and the wall studs marked, we then attached our fresh cleats to the studs (through the drywall, with 4″ coarse thread wood screws) at our pre-determined heights. (Don’t forget to use your level here!) Of course, we’d done the math, drawn diagrams, and went over the math again to accommodate our storage bins in a Tetris-like fashion. It just goes to show that if you follow the time-tested rule of “measure twice and cut once,” your life will be full of rainbows and unicorns. And cupcakes…lots of cupcakes.
Once the cleats were in place, we slapped them with a quick coat of flat white paint to act as a primer, and the restoration company was kind enough to hit them with a final coat of fresh white paint when they came back to finish up the unit interiors a few days later.
But let’s jump back a minute. Remember when I mentioned the cuts for the shelf struts and said that there’d be more on that later? Welp, here we are. The shelves were quite simple to construct after everything was measured and cut. We used more two-by-fours with a straight edge (cut to the width of our shelves) to attach a shelf strut to the front and rear of each section of plywood with a pair of 2″ coarse thread wood screws.
Repeat three more times and our shelf construction was complete. Since it can be assumed that the shelves will have bins sliding back and forth on the tops of them, we decided to go with the raw wood look for this stage of the project.
The final touches came in the form of two small utility handles to help in maneuvering the shelves in and out of the closet. We simply measured the center of each front shelf, attached the little guys with the included screws and we were set. And at about a buck a handle, you can’t beat that. Here, you can see how the completed (love this word) shelf rests on a cleat.
To clarify, we wanted to be build our storage solution as modular so that we could remove the front sections of shelving for easier access to the little-used items stored waaaaay in the back. That said, the only things actually permanently fixed to the walls are the cleats. The shelves rest securely on the cleats but allow for easy removal. We can assure you that they’re built Vargo tough, as they easily support two happy geeks.
Along with our own unit remodel, we took this opportunity to label all the storage units alphabetically, with each previous owner reclaiming their original unit. My lady picked up easy-stick vinyl letters at the office supply store and we centered each shiny black letter on each shiny white door. To keep the new labeling system even, we simply used a sheet of printer paper as a guide, with each letter centered under the width of a sheet of a paper.
Luckily for the sake of blog titles (heh), we’re the proud parents of unit C. It’s always a shame when a bump in the road like this hits and sets you back a bit, but when life gives you lemons, grab a bottle of vodka and some sugar and get the party started, right? Sure, we might not have wanted to trade a two month office storage nightmare for a great storage solution down in the basement, but it all worked out for the best.
And that, my friends, is the last chapter of our going-on-three-months saga. We’re closing the book on this one, and we actually feel pretty safe saying so. Two new water heaters were installed in August (due to a fizzle on the original heaters’ computer bits) and they’re also safely raised on cinder blocks to keep future floods at bay. We’ve even reclaimed our office, which included a bit of a rearrange (much to Kim’s delight). More on that soon, along with a few fun projects and no more flood talk. And if you’ve read this whole thing, we love you that much more.