Reclaim Your Garage

The one room in the house that is open for the whole neighborhood to see is often the most unsightly and neglected - the garage. If you are lucky to have one - congratulations; real estate agents claim this is one of the most requested amenities. You can’t beat the convenience and security of having a place to protect one of your largest investments - your vehicle.

However, many people can’t use the garage for its intended purpose because it has become a dumping ground for cast-offs. But there’s hope. All it takes is some weeding out and a simple system that gets your items off the floor and onto the wall.

Here are some steps on how to tackle this project:

1. Set a date. Give yourself a deadline (like a neighborhood garage sale) as an incentive to get the job done. Then write the date on your calendar.

2. Gather your supplies. You’ll need cardboard boxes, heavy-duty trash bags, garbage can, work gloves and, if necessary, a dumpster.

3. Bring in reinforcements. Consider calling in family members, a paid helper or a professional organizer.

4. Divide and conquer. Divide the project into small steps so you can stay on task.

5. Set up the sorting area. Some zones to create outside on the lawn are: ‘donate’, ‘sell’, ‘recycle’, ‘toss’ (dumpster) and ‘keep’. The ‘keep’ area will be subdivided: sporting gear, toys, gardening supplies, etc. Use boxes to sort into categories.

6. Weed out the excess. When we decide to keep it “just in case”, it usually ends up in the garage. As a result, there will be many “no-brainer” items that can be eliminated.

7. No time for visits down memory lane. If you happen to come across any boxes of old mementos that will be time consuming to go through, and perhaps difficult to make decisions on, it’s best to put them aside to deal with later so you don’t get bogged down.

8. Making the tough decisions. If you haven’t used it in years (or ever), can you really justify having it occupy valuable space?

9. Finding homes for your stuff. Now it’s time to put everything back in the garage. Store like things together; this will be easy because you’ve already sorted them in categories.

10. Go vertical or go home. To clear as much floor space as possible so you can park your cars, maximize the vertical space. A no-cost wall storage solution is to nail slats of scrap wood horizontally between the studs of an unfinished garage and store long-handled tools behind them and/or place nails on the wall to hang other supplies. Also for a cost, Rubbermaid has a hook-and-rail system called FastTrack that can be moved around without the use of tools.

The most important step is to begin. Before you know it, your garage will be transformed from a source of embarrassment to a place of pride and a safe home for your vehicle.

Hellen Buttigieg
Certified Professional Organizer, life coach.


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