Most people like the idea of parking their car inside a garage: it protects the car from the elements and allows passengers to enter/exit without concern for the weather. However, many garages today are filled with sporting gear, yard care supplies, tools, and a plethora of other “stuff.” Spring is a great time to clean out the garage and start over. Here are a few suggestions for reclaiming your space.
PLAN BEFORE YOU BEGIN
- Determine your budget in advance. There are options for every price point (from wall-mounted systems to rolling racks to plastic shelving to pegboard)
- Research options so you know what your approach will be before you start pulling items out.
- Take measurements so you know how much space you actually have.
- Hire help if you need it (professional organizer, installer, “muscles” to move items, etc…)
- Think creatively. Maybe you can buy or build extra storage along the back of the house/garage?
- Plan how you will dispose of unwanted items. (When is the next hazardous waste dispoal day near you? Who collects old sports gear?)
SET ASIDE SUFFICIENT TIME
- It’s going to take at least a weekend, perhaps more. Unless you have covered space outside, wait for nice weather.
- Remember to give yourself time to empty, clean, sort, install solutions, and reload.
EMPTY THE WHOLE SPACE
- Yep, everything. It is important to see and evaluate every item from the space so you can decide what to keep.
- Sweep the space and clean it as much as possible.
- If you like, touch up the paint while the space is empty.
- Don’t keep items that you “might” need someday. Think of your garage as real estate: every item has a square footage storage cost.
- Rule of thumb: if you haven’t used an item in 3 years, get rid of it (unless you are saving it for a CERTAIN future need.)
AVOID COMMON MISTAKES
- No cardboard – it absorbs moisture and disintegrates. Use clear plastic containers whenever possible.
- No plastic bags… Move supplies to more structured containers.
- No propane tanks – they need to be outside
- Get stuff up off the floor as much as possible… Garage floors are dirty.
- Keep chemicals in a safe place.
- Move paperwork inside.
- Quickly dispose of unwanted items. Don’t leave them in a corner for “later”…
A FEW TRICKS….
- Plastic painter’s buckets are perfect for bulk supplies (dog food, salt, fertilizer…)
- Add kitty litter to old latex paint cans to harden the paint for disposal.
- Consider solutions designed especially for garage items, such as racks for sports sticks and Ball Claws for balls.
- Use the walls along the sides to hang items, since most garages are longer than they are wide.
- If you have exposed studs, install brackets or bungee cords to use the space between for storage.
- Install some kind of shelving, whether wall-mounted or that which sits on the floor.
- Establish zones for different types of supplies (sporting goods, seasonal, garden, etc.)
- Always look up. Garage are often tall and large objects can be suspended from the ceiling.
- If you have large but narrow items, pull the shelving out from the wall about 6 inches to slide them in.
- Stage the area near the door to the house to make a mini mudroom.
- Hang a tennis ball from a string to remind you where to stop when pulling your car in until you are used to the new layout.
- Label every bin so family members can keep with the system.
- Use a wall-mounted empty gutter for holding long, narrow objects (e.g. pipes, scrap molding).
A FEW PHOTOS FOR INSPIRATION
If you are lucky enough to have a garage, and if you need to get organized, this is the perfect space to begin. Once you get your garage organized, you not only have a tidy space, but you have an enclosed space you can use as a staging area when working in other rooms in the house.
What tricks have worked well in your garage?