Our Minimalist Family Home: Basement Before and After

Minimalism has changed our whole living space. It was something I spearheaded in my home but if you ask my husband what the biggest benefit has been, he will say ‘getting out space back’.

Minimalism allowed us to reclaim our space to best serve the needs of our family. 

Before minimalism, we had been filling our house with more and more stuff. Our home was used for storage and not for living the life we wanted. 

The basement was by far the most overwhelming space we had. Everything we didn’t want to deal with went into the basement. In fact, we were pretty proud of ourselves when we carved out a path through it so we could access the basement door.



clutter basement declutter home

basement clutter minimalist home



This is a picture I took as we were decluttering it. I had these big bins and piles of things that were sorted by where they were going.

minimalist family before clutter

It took us a few weeks to really get this space decluttered (by which I mean, getting all the stuff OUT of the house). I started with spending a weekend doing it while Conor hung out with the kids. Then we putted away to get the rest down over the next couple weeks.

We spent a lot of time passing things onto the right homes. Whether it was to someone who could use it, thrift, selling, garbage, recycling or a semi-successful garage sale. We got rid of almost everything in the basement! 

It was hard to keep going but NEVERTHELESS SHE PERSISTED! Yes! Slow progress and soon we had an empty space!

Empty spaces feel awesome. It was so worth it and I don’t miss one single thing we let go of.


In this process I learned so much about myself, my relationship with my stuff, and how to declutter. I was able to start taking the strategies I used into other areas of my home and get the whole home decluttered. 



When we first moved into this home we pulled up all the speckled shag in the basement and painted the flooring with concrete paint.

This was a good tie-over until we could get into renos. We knew this space would have the potential to be a gathering spot for our family but over time we forgot that. As we ended up using it as a glorified storage room with a bit of a home gym/boat motor holding/old kid clothes sorting zone it was hard to get the motivation to make this space usable.

BUT after the declutter, this space was clear and we were able to see the vision we really had for how this space could serve our family, particularly our kids.  

We were inspired to reclaim this space! 

The renovation process included:

New walls with new insulation (see ya wood panelling!)


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Bringing back memories of my own childhood #renovationswithchildren #decreepifythebasement #timelapse

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We painted the ceilings and had fresh lights installed (cause a dark basement is a sad basement)


Then we spent all our money on new carpet and new doors. (Merry Christmas kids!)



The kids were especially excited about this carpet and zipped around this empty space. Empty spaces feel like possibilities!

minimalist home before and after

Related: Five things I learned about doing renovations with kids around



This reno was done right before Christmas because we had plans to make this a playroom for the kids as their Christmas present. They were big fans. And we were happy we didn’t have a Christmas filled with more and more toys to fill our home.

We decluttered the toys before we put everything back in to make the space a simple SPACE TO PLAY


Our vision was to founded in creating space to play. I really think kids don’t always need more toys, they need more space where they can play how they want to play. 
A playroom is nice because it is their space and I can close the door and go upstairs, or I can pull up the chair and watch what they are up to. (AKA, hang out by the woodstove to keep warm)


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A couple years ago this basement was a glorified storage unit. Now it’s where life happens…and a place for big chillin…for tiny thugs. #woodstoveadmirer #hygge #toddlerlife

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The following Christmas we built a Fort for them in the playroom.

We knew they would benefit from a place to imagine and be active (that didn’t include building castles out of my couch cushions, now I can tell them to take it downstairs!).



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It’s a Christmas Miracle. Got the stockings and the fort done for Christmas morning! #christmas2017

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Like I said, this space is one that we look at and feel like minimalism transformed our home. It was once a space we all dreaded going into. We would always feel that kind of heavy feeling being in the basement. It was the physical manifestation of so much indecision and procrastination. It felt burdensome to simply be around all this stuff.

Now we have a space for our family and friends to feel like they can be in. And, we wanted a space where people (under 12) felt like they could really play. There isn’t anything breakable or decorative in the basement.

decluttered playroom for kids

diy fort in simple playspace

playroom before and after reading spot

At the end of the day, we have learned that our kids didn’t need more toys, they needed a place to play.


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Cozy, simple seating

We love these IKEA chairs for adults and kids. They are washable. And multipurpose, they get flipped over and double as slides or as walls for imaginary homes.. 


Book nook

We are a book family and they are littered throughout the house, but all get put back in this set of simple, sturdy bookcases (we have two, side by side).


The climbing fort

The fort was made with plywood, some poly plastic for the slide and fun rainbow handholds for climbing


Simple toys storage

We don’t have a lot of toys, but this simple shelf and bins let us keep it all in one place. We can bring out the bins and use them for lots of other things too Like, these bins are their own toy in themselves. The kids take them out and use them as stools, baby beds, mini sandboxes, barbie pools. I also use them to sort my decluttering items or pack stuff in. They are so handy! I used to label the bins, but when the kids are cleaning up on their own, they are just throwing things in bins – my priority was clean over organized at this point. 

Some music

The kids have adopted my old keyboard (similar one). I thought it was silly because they can’t play the piano but they turn on the song setting and listen to the music, then they try and play along with it.

I know it sounds like they would get bored of it, but anytime there are other kids over this is what they want to play – the music is constantly going downstairs. The kids think they are rock musicians, they put on dances, they super hero fight to it.

Plus you can put headphones in it when it gets too much. Music is always a good idea. 

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