Is your garage out of control? Swallowing up or outright banishing your car to the driveway? Is digging out the holiday decorations an all-weekend project? Don’t worry, we’ve got some tips for taming that tornado and corralling the clutter. Reclaiming your garage requires some initial planning to insure that you don’t find yourself three-hours in and knee-deep in a whole new level of disorganization.
- Take Inventory: Breaking down the bulk into general categories can save time and trouble..The wide variety and often awkward size/shape of the things most often stored in the garage can make the task of organizing seem overwhelming. A brief review will help you spot things that are especially problematic, a lawnmower that needs to be readily accessible, old appliances gathering dust, etc.
- Strategize: Break down your garage space into specific zones. You can even make a sketch garage and label certain areas for specific item categories. You’ll want to consider the frequency of use and accessibility requirements of each group of items.
Sort: Camping equipment, yard maintenance, holiday decorations, family keepsakes, each have different storage needs and storing like-items in groups makes sense. Once the initial organization has taken place, having grouped like objects will make it more likely that things get put back where they belong and the garage stays clean. Label boxes with markings visible from multiple angles so you can find boxed items quickly later.
- Purge: A great rule of thumb is the five-year-rule. Keepsakes and heirlooms aside, if you haven’t used an item in five years, it may be time to part with it. Charity Donation Stations are a great place to pass along old clothes, dishes and small appliances, while Craigslist and eBay can fetch some pretty pennies for a wide assortment of used items.
- Invest: Shelving systems will allow for the greater stability of stacked boxes, protect fragile things and ensure that you are best using the wealth of vertical space your garage offers. Places like ISS Pro Rack , Home Depot and The Container Store are a great resource for organizational tools and spatial-planning. Plastic tubs with tight-fitting lids are also a great buy. They hold up better than cardboard over time, resist moisture and keep any creepy-crawly things at bay.
- Work Smart: Measure for shelving before you make purchases and again, before attempting to assemble or move shelving systems into tight spaces. Store heavier items as low to the ground as possible to prevent injury upon retrieval or dangerously leaning towers of boxes. Consider taking full advantage of vertical space by hanging tools, bikes and other sporting equipment high on the walls. Unless you’re frequent travellers, tents and luggage can also be stored in exposed attic space, safely accessible with a ladder.
With a little planning and a fair amount of brow-sweat, winning the battle against garage clutter is completely within your reach. Inviting the whole household to join in the process is another great trick to help preserve the order you’ve created, since those who sweat for it will have a better understanding of how things are arranged and be more invested in keeping things tidy.