Our garage often acts as the ultimate catch-all room of the house – serving as a storage facility for everything we don’t feel like putting away, while simultaneously providing a staging area for a wide variety of activities.
Over time, those activities start to bleed into one another, making the entire space difficult to navigate and no fun to be in. We’ve put together some simple steps for getting your garage in order – so you can actually enjoy using it.
In this article, we’ll focus on reclaiming your garage. Here are 9 simple steps for getting your garage in order – so you can actually enjoy using it.
1. Empty It Out
Starting with a clean slate is one of the most effective ways to organize. Ideally, get everything out of the garage and into the driveway or backyard. That way you can take a long look at the space and sort through what needs to go where. Of course, if you don’t have time to organize your whole garage at once, break it up – empty and organize one section at a time.
2. Allocate Space
You’ve got the workbench, the recycling bins, the automotive supplies, the gardening tools, and the extra storage. You may even have a few additional categories beyond these, but what’s most important right now is for you to decide how to designate your space.
It can help to map out your space and sketch out the portions that are already allocated. If the workbench is bolted to the wall, it’s probably not going anywhere. You can also mark out designated areas for big items with adhesive tape on the floor, to help your family adjust to the new rules for your garage. When there’s a big box marked out on the floor, labeled “lawn mower,” you’re a lot less likely to put the lawn mower somewhere else.
3. Go Upward
In a garage, you tend to have a lot more vertical storage options, compared to other rooms. Usually the best way to go is up when deciding where various supplies go. Shallow shelves make it less likely that items will get forgotten in the back, and deciding exactly which shelves are for what items will help ensure that everything stays in place.
For example, you might keep all the cleaning supplies on one shelf, all the automotive supplies on the shelf below it, and the infrequently used tools on the bottom shelf. There are a lot of pre-made shelving solutions you can buy inexpensively, and shelving plans are widely available, making it easy to construct your own.
Bicycles, ladders, and luggage can also be put in ceiling storage, which is an effective method of getting some of the more unwieldy items out of the way.
4. Label Everything
Labeling is critical for getting the most out of your storage, especially if you have drawers or boxes where you can’t see everything inside.
Write labels on masking tape if you don’t want to damage the storage container, and keep a detailed list of where you put these out-of-sight items (the computer program and phone app Evernote is great for this – a spreadsheet or simple written list will work too).
5. Organize Work Areas
For areas where items need to be on display rather than tucked away in boxes or on shelves (like the workbench), it’s time to do some spring cleaning. Clear everything out of the work area and put it all back again – this time with a few additions.
If you don’t have a pegboard already, get one – they’re an incredibly effective way of keeping tools close at hand while making sure they’re neatly organized. It’s also a good way to keep them from being damaged by rubbing against one another.
This also goes for your hobby or craft area, such as a gardening tool or bike repair section. Organize it, and you’ll use it more often.
Depending on where you live, you’ll have different rules for recycling. If yours allows you to dump all recyclables into one bin, then you’re good to go, but if you need to sort the recycling, this is a good place to start that organization.
Stack-able bins with open sides make it easy to sort recyclables. Leaving several bins on the floor works too, but you’re going to want that floor space for other purposes. Like I said: in a garage, vertical storage is always the best option.
7. Use the Walls
Anything that can be hung from a hook should be. Often people will lean items like push brooms or shovels
against a corner, where they can fall and block the entryway. Use your walls to keep things like these off the floor and out of your way.
This is also a great rule of thumb for coiled items, like garden hoses or electrical cables. Keep them on a hook and they’ll be easy to unravel whenever you need them.
8. Get Rid of the Leftovers
After you’ve put everything back in your garage, you’ve probably found you have a few items that wound up there over the years – and which no longer have a place.
Often, these things really belong somewhere else in your house, and they’re easy to move to that location. Sometimes, though, these are simply items that you have no use for. Donate them, give them away, sell them on Craigslist, or throw them in the trash. Your garage is perfectly organized now; there’s absolutely no room for clutter.
9. Keep It Up
Finally – now that you have a clean garage – keep it that way! Force yourself to put things away properly and clean up garage messes as they occur; before long it’ll be second nature and you’ll find yourself actually looking forward to spending time in your garage.
About the Author
Nick Domino is a partner at Water Damage Defense, an online distributor of specialty water damage prevention equipment. Water Damage Defense equips homeowners so they can protect their property from the devastating effects of water damage.