Got a tiny, unused space in your NYC building's basement ? Here are 8 things you can do with it

Mimi headsht
By Mimi OConnor  |
November 20, 2019 - 1:00PM

Get creative when maximizing unused space in your basement—consider a kids' craft table, book exchange, message board, or clothing donation bins.


Plenty of New York City buildings have a basement level for some very nice amenities like fitness centers, bowling alleys, playrooms, screening rooms, and more.

If you live in a building with one of those fancy basements, this article is probably not for you. If your building has a basement that is used for basic functions like laundry and recycling, keep reading.

That's because even buildings with seemingly uninviting basements often have spaces—an unused corner, blank wall, or ignored nook—that can be put to more creative and communal use. Obviously there’s a certain amount of trust and goodwill that must be present for these scenarios to work, but if your building has got that, why not go for it? (Of course, you’ll want to bring this suggestion to your board or management company for approval, to make sure your idea doesn’t violate any safety regulations or laws.) 

Below, eight ways to make your building’s basement a tad more useful and community-friendly. 

Donation bin

It sounds almost too good to be true, but Wearable Collections will not only provide your building with a free collection bin for gently-used clothing, shoes, and more, they will also pick it up for no charge when full. Reduce waste and unload unwanted threads. 

If your building has 10 or more units, you can sign up for a similar donation box from the city’s refashionNYC program, which has a partnership with non-profit Housing Works. 

Bike pump

When you need a bike pump, you really need one. When you don't, you'll be glad it's downstairs and not taking up space in your apartment. 

Free library/book exchange

You could go basic and just put up some shelves or a bookcase, or, if you have someone handy looking for a project, join the Little Free Library movement. 

Hanger holder/recycling station

Corral extra hangers with a handy device like this to unload them when you have a surplus, and tap when you're in need. 

Tool library

New Yorkers aren’t known for being handy, and tools take up room, which is also in short supply. Create a tool sharing program and brush up on your fix-it skills. 

Free weights

If you’ve got some room to play with, consider a free weight area with a bench and some padded flooring. Beats going out during winter for a workout.

Old school message board

Why not have a central place to post offers, queries and general news or events? Think: awesome cleaning person available, couch for sale, mover needed, in search of dog-walker, etc. Everyone gets too much email as it is.

Kids messy craft area

Granted, this only works if people clean up after themselves, but parents in the building would rejoice knowing there’s a place for slime-making or finger-painting. 


Mimi headsht

Mimi OConnor

Contributing Writer

Mimi O’Connor has written about New York City real estate for publications that include Brick Underground, Refinery29, and Thrillist. She is the recipient of two awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors for interior design and service journalism. Her writing on New York City, parenting, events, and culture has also appeared in Parents, Red Tricycle, BizBash, and Time Out New York.

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