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The garage – a building or shed for housing a motor vehicle or vehicles. If that’s the textbook definition, how is it that the garage nearly always ends up becoming a home for stuff we are tired of looking at, we don’t have room for, and we’re not even sure we need? It is a “safe spot” for things we know we have to go through but just don’t want to face. The garage is like a time capsule, accumulating evidence of its owner’s interests, professions, and hobbies. It is a place where items go in but never seem to come out. And since mine is a two car garage, finding a seldom used item trapped deep in a corner is an expedition on the magnitude of an archaeological dig!

“Just put it in the garage, I’ll go through it when I have time.”

I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have said that statement throughout my years as a homeowner.

Well, not anymore! Now that summer is over and we’re back to a routine, the time has come to finally tackle this, the biggest area of my home. Because I use my garage for my cars AND for storage, I really need to be on top of my game when it comes to organizing.

But, cleaning the garage sounds worse than it actually is. If you just follow the three “R’s” listed below you will be able to enjoy a clutter-free, organized room that can actually serve its intended purpose. Don’t be afraid to ask family, friends, or even neighbors for help.

Remove

The first step is to remove everything (yes, everything) from the garage. All those mysterious wires, plugs, batteries, sports related items, garden tools, shoes, and boxes should be taken out, assessed, and (mostly) eliminated.

After everything is out, begin separating unused/unwanted items into two piles, the “dumpster pile” and the “donate pile.” Try to get rid of anything that has not been used in the past twelve months. The garage should be a place that reflects the current life of the family that uses it, not a place to store items that you think you may possibly need in the future.

So go ahead, remove those motorized scooters that require chargers and batteries which are not made anymore, manual scooters that are way too small, unicycles, skateboards, plastic toys, helmets, and 7 coolers (how many is too many)? Don’t forget to remove all the “just in case” items that, deep down, you know will never be used!

Rent a dumpster if you plan to get rid of large volumes of stuff.

Rethink

After the sorting is completed, ask yourself what you really want to use your garage for. Parking? Paints? Bicycles? Gardening equipment? Holiday decorations? All of the above?

colored-storage bins

When you decide want this large square footage area is for, divide the garage into different sections, or zones. When each item has a designated area to call home, not only is everything easier to find, but each space has set limits on the amount of items that can fit. That is the key to keeping the volume of “stuff” stored and organized.

To separate zones, use different colored bins, tags, boxes, or even different colored walls. This way each member of the family knows which items go in which zones. For example, for the “blue tool” zone, spray paint the pegboard blue.  Use orange tags on clear bins for the kids sports equipment.

Restore

Time to move the remaining items into their newly designated areas.

Store things according to each items’ frequency of use, placing the least used items at the highest point. Yearbooks, photos and childhood memorabilia can be placed at the top.

peg-board-garage

Frequently used items like tools can be affixed to a piece of pegboard or hung from hooks within easy reach. Hang all saws, gardening tools, brooms, mops, and even outdoor fold up chairs on nails, hooks or more peg board. Use heavy-duty plastic shelving for bins holding frequently used items, like gloves, umbrellas, lightbulbs, and extension cords.

Nothing should be kept on the garage floor. This way the floor is easy to sweep and keep clear of the accumulation of leaves, cobwebs and unwanted bugs. Anything that was once stored in cardboard boxes should now be placed in color coded bins. This keeps things organized and rodents from nesting in your belongings.

tool-hanging-storage-garage

If extra space is needed in certain zones, create a loft, using vertical storage. A sheet of particle board or medium-density fiberboard secured to the rafters is a great way to add much needed storage space.

Never put paint and chemicals down the drain or in the trash. Instead, recycle these items using the app, “iRecycle.” Based on your location, it lists all the collection facilities near you.

Finally, pull those cars into your garage and sit back and enjoy using your beautifully organized, clean, space in the way it was originally intended.