I want to introduce everyone to Lauren Halagarda. She is a dear friend and the owner of The Organization Connection based in Arlington, VA. I hope you enjoy her fantastic advice on garage organization.
As we head into the dog days of summer, it’s a great time to organize the garage. It’s amazing how much stuff gets put in there, isn’t it? The garage was originally designed to store one family vehicle. Now, we often have more than one family vehicle, and, more often than not, none of our cars fit in the garage. It can appear that a garage is used to house everything but a vehicle! Consider yourself lucky (and organized) if you are actually able to park the car in your garage.
I am not making any guarantees that you will be able to park your car in the garage by the time you are done taking this advice, but I do promise some helpful tips for organizing it better.
First, determine what activities you would like to occur in the garage or what types of things will be stored in this area. For example, is your goal to park your car in this space or simply to park your lawnmower? Do you use it as a workshop for home improvements or does it need to serve as a laundry room? Do you wish to store your gardening supplies or your woodworking tools or kids toys and sporting equipment in this space? Make a list and write down your goals for this space. By going through this exercise, you will be able to identify zones for your garage that work for you and your family.
Next, set aside some time to start sorting small areas or containers within the garage. Break this one seemingly endless project of organizing the garage into small, manageable tasks. Set a timer for 15 minutes or an hour, whatever works for you. I highly recommend against trying to do it all in one day, so that you don’t yourself up for failure. (An exception to this would be if you have help.)
As you sort through your things, ask yourself questions. Do I love it? Do I need it? When is the last time (or how frequently) I used it? Is it outgrown, broken, and otherwise obsolete? If I donated it to charity, would someone get good use out of it?
Store items off the ground. The garage can be damp, and accidental spills are possibilities. When you get to the organizing stage of your project, protect your belongings by storing them off the ground.
Use Vertical Space. When you can’t expand out into the room, try expanding upward. Use the walls for storage. Learn about slat, grid, shelving, and cabinet storage systems to help you make better use of your wall space.
Be kind to the environment. Be sure to dispose of paint, chemicals and other hazardous materials properly. Check out your local recycling guidelines.
Assign items a home. Now that you have sorted items into their prospective zones or categories, try to store them accordingly. Also, store items conveniently. Children’s toys should be stored within their reach. The easier it is to put something away, the more likely it is to get done.
Create Toolkits. Use various-size containers or buckets as toolkits. Home improvement stores sell jackets for buckets to store different types of tools efficiently and you can pick up your “Fix it” bucket and take it where you need it. You can create a: “Car Wash” bucket with soap, sponge, towels, wax, window wipes; “Wall Repair” kit containing a drywall knife, spackle knives, tape; “Electrical Repair” kit containing wire clippers, an outlet, switch, etc. Don’t go crazy and create one for any and every job around the house, just the tasks that you perform on a regular basis.
Label Everything. Do yourself and your family a favor and label everything. Not only will this help you and others identify what is in boxes and containers, but labeling shelves and cabinets can also help encourage others (and yourself) to put the item back in it’s home.
Use the ceiling. There are many tools on the market that utilize the assistance of a lift mechanism, whether it is a bike rack or shelving unit. These can be raised when not in use and lowered to provide easy access.