Garages tend to become the dumping ground during the winter. But the best thing about organizing the garage is that if we do a really good job, it usually stays that way for at least a year. In reality, families use garages as storage facilities rather than a place for the car. That stuff can include obsolete electronics, delayed decisions about where to put something, overflow from the house, and unneeded building supplies. Since the whole family probably uses the garage, bring everyone together and make it a family affair. Let’s break it down:
Start with a clean slate and unclutter
- Pull everything out onto the driveway if you can. Sweep it out and eliminate the cobwebs.
- As you pull items out, sort them by categories:
- lawn and gardening, work bench, sports equipment, dry goods overflow, car accessories, tools and power equipment, paints/solvents, lawn furniture, beach items, camping, etc.
- Talk to your children about their items and help them eliminate clutter. Consider having a garage sale to sell their unneeded toys.
- Finish or get rid of the unfinished projects (two years old or more).
- Find a new home for stuff that shouldn’t be stored in an uninsulated garage (e.g. photographs, items that could melt).
- Eliminate duplicates and donate unneeded tools, doors, windows, appliances, or anything to build a house to Habitat for Humanity in your area.
- Take hazardous waste items (e.g. oil-based paint) to local semi-annual cleanups.
Stay in the Zone
- Divide the garage into zones according to the categories you’ve established.
- Think “grab and go” and store things where they are convenient.
- Hang tools where they are most accessible.
- Keep car accessories close to the cars.
- Store overflow from the kitchen close to the door near the house.
- Reposition some zones as the seasons fluctuate: move bikes, beach items and lawn furniture down in spring and move the skis and sleds up high.
Type of storage/system
- Put big items back first and the rest goes around those items.
- Think ‘up’: store infrequently used items on high floating shelves or beams.
- Metal on cement will rust the metal. Rest metal on wood or up on the wall.
- Studs with no dry wall are great for peg boards. Cut different sizes according to the types of stuff you have.
- Use open wire epoxy-coated steel shelving: wet things can dry, mesh prevents dust.
- Consider a garage storage system. Search the Web or go to Lowe’s or Home Depot.
- Use different colored plastic bins for different zones so it’s easier to put them away.
- Hang long things vertically so they take up less space. If garden tools don’t have a hole to hang, drill one.
- Remix things you may already have: Use old drawers/cabinets, shoe bag on the wall to hold small garden tools, old table for work bench, etc.
Finally, if you enter your home through the garage make sure it’s clutter-free and welcoming. Hang a welcome home sign, clean the door, and put a nice door mat in place. You deserve a nice welcome home!
And remember: “Every time you put something back where it belongs, it’s a gift to yourself.”