Garages tend to accumulate a lot of stuff. They easily end up being dumping grounds for broken furniture you intend to fix, old boxes of textbooks you can't bare to part with, and recycled car parts you might need someday. Sound familiar? It's time to organize your garage if you're constantly stepping over things, your camping gear is scattered everywhere, your croquet set seems to be missing, and if your expensive car is being parked in the driveway, or worse yet, on the street.
Before you can dive right into organizing your garage, however, you must first come up with a plan. Tackling your garage is a big project and it's best to plan it out before you get started in order to make the experience a good one.
First, think about the function you want your garage to serve. What exactly do you want to use your garage space for? Some ideas might be:
- To park your car(s)
- To use as a work area
- To use for storage (what kind?)
- For doing laundry (if your washer & dryer hookups are there)
- To use as a work out room
- Or maybe even to use as an extra hang out area for the kids
Once you know what you'd like to use your garage for, the next step is to plan out zones. Think about where you'd like to store you sports equipment and bicycles or where you'd like to put your work bench. Be sure to create a zone for each function. Take the time to really visualize what you'd like your garage to look like when you're finished. Draw it out on graph paper, if that helps. Then make it happen!
However, before you start to actually make it happen, the next step is to come up with a plan of attack. How will you go about it? Will you tackle the entire garage over a long weekend or will you do a little at a time? Before you make your final decision, here are some things to consider:
- What's the current condition of the garage?
- Will you be needing a dumpster? Or a truck to haul things away?
- Will you be working alone or with family and/or friends?
- The weather (important if you're sorting outside)
- Do you need to purchase items for storage?
- Will you need help installing shelving or wall mounted cabinets?
I recommend organizing the entire garage over a long weekend so you can take everything out at once and rent a dumpster or truck if needed. If this sounds too overwhelming, consider recruiting people to help or even hire a professional organizer if your budget allows.
Now it's time to put your plan into action. This is the sort and purge phase. Sort items into categories (like with like). If you absolutely have to (due to rainy weather or you're working alone in short increments of time), sort inside the garage (if there's room). Otherwise, use the driveway or yard and lay out blue tarps to put things on. All garbage goes immediately into the back of a pick up truck, trash can, or dumpster. Work in one section of the garage at a time. Try not to jump around. Be ruthless! Keep only what you absolutely need, use, and love. Toss out anything that is broken, dirty beyond cleaning, or damaged. Donate anything that is in good shape that you no longer use.
Remember: Less is more!
- Do I really need 3 lawnmowers that don't work, 56 flower pots, and a gazillion empty cardboard boxes?
- What good is it to hold onto things that I might need someday? Will someday ever really come? (be honest!)
- Will I ever really fix all the kitchen table chairs that need new legs or the old washing machine that's been sitting in the garage for 4 years?
Once you know what you intend to keep and how much you have of each category, it's time to put everything back in, keeping in mind the zones you visualized in the planning phase. Remember to stay true to how you want your garage to function. For example, if you want your garage to be a place where you do laundry, everything related to that activity will be stored together in the 'laundry zone'. If you want your garage to be a place to do woodworking projects, all of your tools will be stored near the work bench in the 'work zone'. If shelving, peg board, or wall mounted storage units are needed, now is the time to install them. If you have a lot of installing to do, be realistic about how long you think it'll take and plan accordingly.
When organizing your garage a rule to keep in mind is: if it's on the floor, it's time to store. Free up all floor space as much as possible. Also, organize to visualize. If you can see it, you can find it. Use clear containers and bins and label everything. Be sure to use wall and ceiling space, too. Store things you use frequently down low for easy access and store things you use only occasionally up high and out of the way (i.e. holiday decorations). Organizing is very much like a puzzle in that you need to find the best way for everything to fit in just the space you have. A wonderful challenge!
Last, but probably the most important of all... maintain your organized garage! Always, always, always put things back where you found them! Taking just a few extra minutes to do this each and every time will keep your newly organized garage... organized!!