According to the calendar, spring is here — those of us in the Northeast and Midwest are skeptical — and we’re ready to get our living spaces back in shape after a long winter.
Decluttering the garage can be overwhelming, especially if you live in a four-season climate and you have to keep your snow blower crammed next to your grill (although I really recommend self storage for seasonal items).
Think about all the uses your family has for the garage — is it just parking (not likely!)? More likely than not, your garage is some combination of carport, storage unit, workshop, gym, bicycle lockup, and home entrance. And if you’re reading this, it’s probably not doing any of those jobs well at the moment.
Your first step, then, is easy — identify how you want the space to function, and then you can start getting organized.
Taking back the garage in five reasonable steps
1. Start by Cleaning. It’s easy to justify clutter in a dirty garage. Not “right,” but “easy.” Start with a clean slate and wipe away any grime on windows and shelves. Sweep out the cobwebs. make a rule — anything that has not been handled in two years gets tossed. Save any extra metal, which you can actually scrap for cash at the junkyard (fun!). Finally, sweep and hose down the floor.
2. Identify seasonal needs. What do you use seasonally? Sort your gardening supplies, auto repair gadgets, sports equipment, grill and other barbecue implements, snow gear, and summer toys. You can then do one of two things:
- Try to assign an area of the garage for each season. This is helpful because you’ll always know when you have when you need an extra pot for tomatoes or your toboggan.
- Put your seasonal items in self storage. If you know anything about me, it’s that I constantly ring this bell. Putting your skis, snow blower, rock salt, and other winter stuff into a storage unit frees up a ton of space. When seasons change, you cycle the warm weather gear in and your winter tools and toys out. If you’ve ever tripped over a snowboard in the middle of July, you know I’m right.
3. Go Vertical. Actually, I have mentioned this a few times, too. Walls are great for storage when properly utilized.
Consider purchasing some shelving units and pegboards. Stack the shelves and use the wall space for pegboard storage. Many garages have rafters — take advantage of the space by storing bins full of sports equipment and other summer fun gear. Large and bulky items like bikes and rakes can be hung by using S hooks on the wall.
If something just doesn’t fit, consider hauling it to your storage unit — Uncle Bob’s actually offers a free truck rental when purchasing storage, which is handy.
4. Create a Garden Center. An old cupboard or stack of crates are ideal for an aesthetic gardening storage system that won’t take up too much space. Martha Stewart Living Magazine suggests storing your gardening tools in a trough of ¾ sand (to keep tools sharp) and ¼ motor oil (to prevent rust). Stash garden hoses over a galvanized bucket that’s mounted on the wall, and tuck your gardening gloves inside.
5. Consider insulation. This is especially important if your garage is attached to your living quarters. An insulated garage can really maximize storage space in your home. You can create an extra place to work out, build a workshop, or launch a home office.
You can even upgrade your garage door to something more aesthetically pleasing — GreenBuilder magazine recently named faux wood garage doors one of the year’s top products.
You can live the dream — a car in the garage, space for storage, and a little getaway for yourself. You just need to have a plan.