Is your highly valued automobile parked in your driveway while stuff you don’t even know you have is taking up space in your cluttered garage? At some point garages were added to the typical house plan in order to protect an expensive asset, the family car. Yet according to a recent UCLA study, “Only 25 percent of garages (in the typical 21st century home) can be used to store cars because they are so packed with stuff.” That’s sort of backwards, don’t you think? If you’d like to take back your garage, whether to store your car or actually find all your camping gear without tripping over piles, follow the More Time For You Garage Action Plan for organization success!
– A typical garage takes anywhere from 4-8 hours to organize. Whether you spend a Saturday or take a day off work, you need enough time to start and finish the project. An unfinished garage organization project just invites more clutter and means you to have to start from scratch the next time you return to it.
– Before starting any garage organization project, be sure to have the following:
- Muscle – You’re going to be lifting and moving a lot of stuff, you cannot do this alone. Find a friend, hire a day laborer, or call a hauler.
- Shelving – Depending on your budget, there are many options for storage shelving. You can go with a custom design (e.g. Valet Custom or Premier Garage), open shelving (e.g. Costco or Container Store), or various options available at your local home improvement store. Whichever route you choose, you’ll definitely want shelving that is adjustable as well as durable.
- Containers – Clear bins in a variety of sizes will help immensely in the sorting and organization process. They’ll also help keep your garage organized once it’s finished. I start every garage organization project with Sterilite bins in 66 QT., 16 QT, and 8 QT sizes. Depending on the size of your garage, you’ll want to have at least 10 of each size. You can always return what you don’t use, so buy more than you think you’ll need.
- Label Maker – Labeled bins and shelving give a clear indication of where you can find something as well as where it goes after it’s used. If you don’t own a label maker, now is a good time to invest in one. My adage is that every home should have at least one and it should be as commonplace as your stapler or scissors.
- Trash Bags – You will definitely be getting rid of a lot of junk that cannot be sold or donated. Have a good supply of trash bags on hand.
– You’ll hopefully have many items for trash and donation. Call your garbage service provider to know what they can take and how you can arrange for a pick up date close to your garage organization date. Many local charities offer pick up services for large amounts of donated items. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of coordinating with a charitable organization and your city garbage service, hire a hauler to take everything to their respective places. This ensures the items are taken away immediately and don’t linger on-site for you to have second thoughts or for them to creep back into your home.
Sort & Zone
– A garage organization project cannot be done piecemeal. You’ll need to pull everything out (see “muscle” section above:-) so you can see what you have and then make a decision. Designate 3 areas on your driveway for Trash, Donate, and Keep. As you pull things out, if you can easily decide something is trash or donate, then put it in the respective zone.
For items you want to keep, create sub-zones of various categories: Camping, Holiday, Tools, Recreation, Luggage, Mementos, Sports Gear, etc. As you go through old boxes and random items tossed on shelves, place like items in one of your clear bins. This does not have to be the final resting place, but it will keep the items together and allow you to see how much you have of certain types of things. Soon enough you may realize you have 10 tote bags. Do you really need that many or could a few be donated?
Put Things Away
– After you’ve identified all the giveaway and trash and zoned what you’re going to keep, you’re ready to put things back. Place items in the proper size containers or on shelves, label as needed, and be sure the more commonly used stuff is easier to access then the less frequently used items (holiday decor, archived taxes, mementos, etc.).
Once your garage is organized you’ll be amazed at how much space you have and how easy it is to find what you need.
Photo Credit: More Time For You – This is a real client before and after!