In this year’s Reader Survey, a chunk of you awesome respondents said you want to see some more personal content, one reader wanted to see some upcycling ideas, and another suggested a series about creative space inspiration. So I’ll hit a few birds with one stone today by sharing one of the most creative spaces I could think of that’s personal for me – my dad’s basement workshop.
Last summer I shared the story of how my dad built a log cabin out of reclaimed utility poles when I was little. A resourceful guy like that doesn’t get that way overnight. At first glance, some of you might be thinking hoarder alert! as you look at these photos, but I’m not so sure. Rather than spending money at the container store, my dad’s go-to source for organizing materials is most people’s recycling bins. For this guy, nothing is better at keeping things organized than an old nail, shoe box or cleaned out sour cream tub.
If you think about it, a lot of municipalities don’t even have the capacity to recycle many plastics, particularly lids to things, so why not try to extend their otherwise-landfilling life?
Being 6’4″ has a huge impact on how my dad uses his space. His shop organization is absolutely NOT limited to walls of shelving. See everything hanging from the rafters? There are rolls of duct and packing tape hanging from nails. There’s a level, old lanyards, keys, work masks, an army water bottle, pliers, and who knows what else up there too.
There are notes everywhere. On pieces of wood, taped to drawers, written on boxes used for storage. Yes, on the top shelf there the box reads “explod outhouse.” It’s a small replica of an outhouse that explodes when you touch it, scaring the pants off whoever you’re pranking. Gotta store that somewhere important – pranks are an important trick in every handyman’s arsenal.
A big outdoorsman in addition to handyman, my dad has a lot of gear to keep organized (not unlike most crafters I know). Part of his collection of fishing tackle and poles resides in his shop. He recycled styrofoam packaging into a clever, tiered storage system for organizing sharp fishing lures.
See the net in the photo below? I think it might most accurately depict how exactly my dad’s brain works. In addition to the fishing and hunting, he’s also a big tennis and racquetball lover, has been for years. The racquetball racquet pictured must have been broken at some point, so instead of giving it away, he attached the net from a fishing net (I assume the frame was broken or found discarded somewhere knowing my dad) to the stringless racquet, making a well-gripped net for catching smaller things.
PS: The two articles pinned to the wood shelf are a Guide to Paint & Varnish and Better Living Through Handymanlyness. Who needs Pinterest when you’ve got a shelf and a staple gun?
Looking for a storage system to keep small things organized? Look no further than an empty Cheez Whiz jar. Pro handymanlyness tip, folks. I joke, but I should really do something like this with yarn scraps. An empty jam jar for all of my wool scraps, another for acryllic, another for alpaca blends. Not the worst idea ever, yarn hoarders! ;)
His workshop also extends to the garage a bit, where he’s got a huge stash of flags left in the ground by cable company workers. What are they for? He keeps some in a holder taped to the lawn mower for literally flagging dog doo that needs cleaning up.
With low to no cost practical ideas like these, I can’t say the man’s a hoarder. Just an especially creative reuser. Remember – a lot of the stuff in that shop didn’t cost a dime.