There is an Internet joke that says “Only in America…do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.” I don’t think that statement is specific to only America.
The garage tends to be the dumping ground for our accumulation of “stuff”. All items that will not fit neat and tidy into the house, or the items that people are not quite sure that they’re ready to get rid of. It is not to say that there are not “garage type” items stored in the garage, but the overflow and excess of “stuff” prevents systems and order being put in place in the garage.
One of the reasons that people have trouble keeping their garage organized is that, there is no identified purpose or function, it just serves the role of the dumping ground for overflow and “stuff we can’t find a home for.” Family members tend to follow the “I’ll just put that here for now” model and chaos and disorganization ensue.
The benefits of an organized garage cannot be undervalued. The impact of clutter is not only on the physical space but can impact energy level and lifestyle of family members as well. There is not much incentive for a family bike ride when no one can access his or her bicycles.
The biggest reason the task of tackling garage organizing never gets started though is because of how daunting and overwhelming it can seem and not knowing where to begin.
Spring is finally here and summer is just around the corner, definitely the right time of year to tackle a job like decluttering and organizing the garage (also a great Father’s Day gift) so where do you begin?
1) Define its purpose – Know your vision. What is the end goal of this space? Do you want to store a car? Do you need storage for hockey equipment? Do you need a workshop? Do you want to be able to see the floor? The options are endless in a garage. Can’t picture an organized garage? Check out Pintrest for some incredible examples of ultimately organized garages.
2) To store or not to store? – Ottawa Garage Makeovers list The Top 10 things people store in their garage as being:
- Tools, (hand & power)
- Bicycles, tricycles, motorcycles, etc.
- Lawn mowers, garden tractors, other lawn equipment
- Lawn & garden supplies
- Athletic/sports equipment (skis, kayaks, canoes, 4-wheelers, RTV’s)
- Car supplies
- Garden tools
- Cleaning equipment & supplies
If you are storing items other than this in your garage, perhaps you should ask yourself, is the garage the right place for it.
3) Keep, Toss, Donate, Sell – Separate your items into one of these categories. When deciding, which category to place each item, ask yourself some important questions: When was the last time you used it? Is the item in good working condition and safe to keep? It is something that’s still useful and relevant? Do you have a place to keep it? What is the worst thing that would happen if you got rid of it? Keep in mind, garage sales are great, but they can offer a pretty low return for the time and effort required. Sometimes it’s faster and easier to give items to charity. Remember! If throwing things out be sure to consult your local household hazardous waste to ensure you are complying with environmental regulations.
4) Define and assign a space – You have defined it’s purpose and know your vision. Now, it is time to separate items into categories; automotive, tools, gardening tools, sports equipment (which might be further broken down by type, season or family member), camping equipment and cleaning supplies. Choose categories that make sense to you and your family. Make sure you arrange them on the shelves by category, putting like items together. As you go along, ask yourself; does this spot lend itself to items getting put back, does this location make sense for this item. When it does assign the category to that space.
4) Go vertical – Use as much vertical & ceiling space as possible. The ceiling can hold bicycles, ladders, and luggage out of the way. Create an attic space. A storage shelf installed from the ceiling is great for items that are used infrequently or seasonally, such as camping gear, outdoor Christmas decorations or lights, or window screens and storm doors.
5) Relocate – If after the above steps you are finding that your garage is still bulging go back and revisit the above steps. Then, even after streamlining your items a second time you still have too much, look at reallocating some items. Do you have a shed that could be used to hold more than just a lawn mower and perhaps house gardening items as well? Do you have sporting equipment taking up valuable garage space when there is room in the basement? These may not be your scenarios, however, if you find that you are still cluttered or disorganized in the garage then either trim your contents further, or relocate items to another suitable space, WITHOUT cluttering up that area.
6) Invest in great products – The garage storage industry was estimated at about $1 billion in 2006 and continuing to grown. This being said, there is not shortage of products designed to put streamlined, organizing solutions in place in the garage. Onwall Solutions is a Canadian company that offers various products to organize the garage. Gladiator Garageworks accommodates customers internationally with their products. If you are looking for something local, stores like Canadian Tire and Lowes carry great products that will help you achieve the organized space you are going for.
7) Smaller pieces – It is great to create categories for like items, however, sometimes the small items fall through the cracks. Ensure to collect smaller items and contain them in an appropriate container so that they may be easily found and utilized.
8) Label, Label, Label! – Various methods of labeling are available in the garage. You can great creative; it does not need to be as “standard” as in the home. Taking the time to label, does it help you to achieve an organized look, it makes it easy and helps remind others where to return it.
Whether you are looking to fit your car in the garage, or to just create an organized storage space, the possibilities are endless with a space the size of the garage. It just requires some planning and hard work.