When spring rolls around, you may find that what was once a home for your cars has now become a landfill for everything you own but don’t use. It’s important to define different spaces of your house, and the garage is no exception: it’s just as functional as any other part of the home. However, it’s meant to store your tools, not your Christmas tree. Therefore, it’s best to solve the problem once and for all with a little garage organization that’ll help keep things nice and tidy for the future.
Plan of Attack
Don’t enter alone. Use the buddy system—if for no other reason than you may get overwhelmed and lost in your own sea of debris. Friends, family, and the kids can all lend a hand to get the job done quicker and to help keep you on track: it’s easy to get distracted rooting through the objects of your past. The first goal of any garage organization is to create more floor space, so that’s where you should begin. Get all the knick-knacks, the holiday decorations, and any other indoor-related storage out of there and into the attic. This area is for outdoor items only. Always keep this objective in mind; it’ll help you decide what stays and what goes.
Divide and Conquer
Give each helper a section to cover. This should help the garage organization run smoother. And don’t be clingy: If you haven’t used something in more than a year, or if you forgot it even existed, it’s time to say goodbye. Give your stuff to charities, thrift stores, or maybe even pay for a trash removal service. Or, better yet, make a separate pile for a future garage sale, allowing you to reap all the awards of your excavation. However, don’t procrastinate on this chore either: It’s easy to say you’ll have a garage sale and not follow through so as to keep putting off the inevitable. Next, divide up the remaining possessions into categories—sports items, seasonal décor, gardening tools, car maintenance, etc.—to help with the next step.
Once everything is cleaned and categorized, now it’s time to rearrange. The best way to store your things is to make use of your vertical space. Get a pegboard for your tools. Put up some shelves for boxes. Heavy-duty hooks are great for shovels and rakes. Buy a magnetic strip for stray metal items, such as steel rulers or chisels. And if you have bikes, skis, or ladders, put them overhead in the rafters.
Once you have as much as you can off the floor, it’s now time to find additional storage. The easiest answer to this dilemma is a garage organizer. A multiple tier shelving unit is great for storing paint or varnishes, and a cabinetry system for miscellaneous items is always handy. Another alternative is to buy several Rubbermaid baskets to hang on the wall to help separate the recycling. To continue compartmentalizing, buy a crank to roll up that hose and use garbage ties or bungee cords to keep your extension cords in line. Whatever the need, investing in some form of garage organizer helps to maintain the floor space you’ve just created.
Items Big and Small
Don’t forget the little things. If you save glass baby-food jars, clear film canisters, or milk cartons to be cut in half, you’ll now have a place to put smaller items such as nails, screws, or tacks. If these small containers aren’t see-through, they can also be easily labeled with masking tape. Another alternative garage organizer is an inexpensive tackle box to help contain the confusion. But what if it’s your bigger items that are getting in the way? What if it’s the necessary tools, such as snow blowers, lawn mowers, or edgers creating the clutter? Then consider building an extra shed in the backyard or a lean-to against the outside of the garage in order to produce additional square footage.
The main thing to keep in mind is never let it get to this point again. If you take these steps, you should be able to keep up with your garage organization in the future. This is not to say that you won’t have some occasional maintenance—some sweeping, scrubbing, or washing. But by simply taking the time to arrange the space, at least you’ll no longer dread entering it.