Organizing A Basement

The Early Show is starting a special series called "Anchor To The Rescue, Hannah Storm kicks off the series Monday with her organizational skills. She was dispatched over the bridge to Brooklyn, N.Y., to help a woman whose basement was in desperate need of some spring cleaning.
CBS/The Early Show
The Early Show is starting a special series called "Anchor To The Rescue."

You, the show's viewers, wrote to us about how the anchors could come to your rescue with anything from childcare to home maintenance. And the anchors responded, with varying levels of success.

Hannah Storm kicks off the series Monday with her organizational skills. She was dispatched over the bridge to Brooklyn, N.Y., to help a woman whose basement was in desperate need of some spring cleaning.

Reading her letter, Marian Meyer says, "Dear 'Anchor to the Rescue,' I'm in the process of doing a complete house cleaning after living here for 28 years. While most of it is going well, the basement is a real problem..."

Turn on a light, go down the stairs, 'round the corner, down another flight of stairs, and you've made it to Meyer's basement.

Meyer says, "We have Christmas decorations; we have old furniture; and we have a huge collection of polyester clothing from the 1970s. My husband gets - when it gets to the level that the fire department might come and give us a ticket - he gets concerned about it. Getting it clean is going to be a real challenge. And for me, just deciding on some of the objects what to keep and what to give away or throw away."

Which is where Storm came in - to get the project off the ground.

Under the dust, the basement is a treasure trove of stuff.

Why does Meyer have a toilet seat in there?

"It was probably on sale, would be my guess," she says.

And the papier mache pumpkinhead?

This is a really big job. And Storm thought it might be, so she called for backup.

Enter organizational expert Julie Morgenstern. For her, no job is too daunting.

"I'll teach you a little formula to tackle this," Morgenstern says. "It's called the SPACE formula, S-P-A-C-E because that's what we want to create, right?"

She explains, "First thing we're going to do is Sort everything so that we have things categorized. Then, the P is for Purge which is to get rid of everything that you don't need, that you don't want - it's broken. The A is for Assign. Then we're going to decide what lives where. The C is for Containerize."

"So, once you know where things are going to live, you want to convert them into the nicest possible containers or things that protect it and make it easy to access. And the E is for Equalize and that's basically how you maintain your system. So S-P-A-C-E will get you through it...Let's go."

Storm found a lobster toy. Everyone needs one of those. It squeaks! She also found a lunchbox, and a wig. "I love this," she exclaims.

After sorting items downstairs, the team went upstairs. The goal? Keep no more than 10 percent of the old clothing stored in bins.

And Meyer was even kind enough to give Storm a belt she had admired.

From Meyers' completely organized basement, Morgenstern tells The Early Show, "We really had to sort of organize it from inside out and organize it around the way she sort of categorizes her stuff.

"We have a whole section for Christmas stuff and holiday decorations. We held separate sections for spare household furniture; a whole wall of memorabilia; then, there were spare kitchen dishes and things that she only uses periodically. So we created four zones, making it really easy for her to find anything or put it away."

Containers and storage supplies were provided by The Container Store.

Morgenstern notes, "We really tried to sort of use a very uniform look because that also makes it look much more approachable. We use these clear containers so you can see rather than hodge-podge."

A very happy Meyer adds, "And we labeled everything, too. They labeled everything, which is wonderful. I never would have done this as wonderful a job as they did."

But will she be able to keep everything organized? "Well, I have these two forces to work against, my husband and my son," Meyer says, "But if I can get them under control, I think so - especially my son."

On Tuesday's "Anchor To The Rescue," Julie Chen helps a busy professional couple find time for a date, as she takes on the role of babysitter extraordinaire.