Organize Your Garage
To organize your garage effectively, you have to win the war on clutter. The epitome of the cluttered garage is masses of ‘stuff’ making it nearly impossible to find a path through the room, let alone find anything else. And then you feel obligated to keep the garage door shut to avoid severe embarrassment and the prospect of lowering your neighbors’ property values.
A garage’s designed purpose is to house and protect your vehicle(s). If your garage has become a glorified dump site – with or without the yellow tape! – it’s time to get it organized. You can do it more quickly than you think and, with proper planning, keep it that way.
Here are 7 easy steps to help you organize your garage and turn abused space into usable, accessible space:
1. Organize Living Area
This is a crucial first step! There’s no point in organizing the garage if, when you finally get around to organizing the living area, you identify all sorts of stuff to stockpile in the garage. Systematically organize your living areas and identify what doesn’t belong or merits storage somewhere else, especially in the garage.
2. Remove and Sort
Remove everything from the garage and sort. You can’t organize your garage until you can actually see what’s there, period. Categorize the contents by grouping them with like items – kids’ toys with kids’ toys, tools with tools, seasonal decorations with seasonal decorations, etc. You get the point!
Identify anything that is broken, outdated or no longer wanted and sell it, donate it, or trash it. This a great time to hold a garage sale or make a donation to charity. Most homeowners are pleasantly surprised at how much their ‘junk’ is worth to someone else! (Hint: If your goal really is to ‘move’ unwanted items, have a ‘free’ pile and keep adding to it until there’s nothing left!)
If you still have too much stuff. consider a storage shed – the ultimate declutter solution! There are numerous designs you can build yourself or ready-made units you can haul in. You may end up with a cluttered shed, but that’s what storage sheds are usually about!
3. Add Organization
Add the proper organizational help. After you have categorized everything, determine what hardware or storage ‘systems’ can help you keep these items organized. Your local hardware store or outlet is full of items to aid your decluttering process.
For example, look to purchasing storage bins, shelving systems, etc. Make a goal of getting as much ‘stuff’ off the floor as possible and find the system that helps you do that. There’s always the tendency (natural law?) for one ‘loose’ item on the floor to attract another, and so on until you have clutter on your hands once more.
Readily available organizing systems and items may include:
- Wall bins
- Bike racks
- Peg boards
- Plastic containers
Once it’s empty, the next step to is to sweep or mop out all the loose debris, as well as remove cobwebs and layers of dust. Use industrial cleaners to remove heavily soiled spots, e.g., grease or oil. You will enjoy your garage more if it’s clean, so get it clean and make a point to keep it that way.
5. Paint, Seal (Optional)
This isn’t about transforming your garage into a cozy living area with matching wall hangings. It means considering if adding a new coat of paint to the walls will make things look cleaner, brighter and cheerier?
Many people also like to paint and seal the garage floor to protect it from spills and to make clean-up simpler. Changing the wall or floor surfaces can have a huge impact on the feel of the garage. If this is something you wish to do, now is the time when the garage is clear.
Once you’re satisfied with the cleanliness and look of the empty garage, the next step to organize your garage is to put everything back systematically. Place items that will be used on a regular basis within easy reach. This easy-reach rule applies to the area just inside the access door from the house as well as to the main garage door. If you have something that requires quick access, place it accordingly, like a fire extinguisher near the access door so you can use it for both flaming VWs and flaming meatloaf!
Place items less frequently used further back in the garage or higher up on shelving systems or deeper inside cabinets. Label the outside of bins, drawers and cabinets to spare yourself the hassle of opening each one again and again to find a needed item. Pretend you’re a librarian and you have a better scheme than to organize everything by color!
Putting labels on shelving or even peg boards can help remind you where things should be put away, too. You’ve no doubt seen the pegboards with the outlines of tools. Even a young child could be trusted to get everything back in its rightful place – especially if you make a game out of it!
7. Implement Rules
Lastly, set and implement sensible rules to help maintain an organized garage area. Rules such as, “Always returns items you used to the place you got them,” should be strictly followed to avoid re-cluttering the area. (This is assuming the item was in its proper place to start with!) You want to break the tendency to just ‘drop’ everything when you’re done with it or ‘store’ it in the nearest empty spot.
Decide rules as a family and get everyone’s buy-in. Have them suggest consequences they can live with. For instance, if you earn the monthly or quarterly ‘Oink Award’ for cluttering transgressions, you get to schedule and lead the next garage cleaning activity! Using positive and negative sanctions with minor household members will go a long way to not only improving garage organization, but also teaching them self-discipline and organizational skills.
These steps will help you organize your garage in no time at all. Just think of the key benefits of being able to not only park your car in your garage to keep it keep it out of the next hail storm, but also knowing exactly what ‘stuff’ you have and where to find it quickly when you need it. Good luck!
…And take action NOW!