What do The Beatles, Google, and old text books have in common? They've all spent time in a garage. The Beatles and Google moved out and up in the world, but those old text books? Well, they might still be lurking in a corner of your garage. Even if you’re able to squeeze in a car or two, now’s a good time to purge and organize. Who knows, if you create enough space, your garage might birth the next American Idol or a billion-dollar company! Check out today's Timely Tips for garage organizing strategies.
TIMELY TIPS - to organize your garage
SCHEDULE a couple days back to back, especially if there are unmarked boxes from three moves ago. Purge on day one and containerize on day two. Recruit some muscle and support to seal your success. Have water, snacks, and some energy-boosting tunes playing to keep you moving. Take breaks as needed so you don’t burn out.
SET UP FOR PURGE. Pull out your trash and recycle cans. If you’re likely to find a lot of unusable and un-recyclable items, rent an additional dumpster from your waste disposal company.
LABEL BOXES for donate or sell. If needed, label a box with ??? for “I have no idea what this is, but it looks like it might be important.” Also have a container for "take into the house." Be very selective about what goes in there since you'll need to find homes for those items too. A few musts for going inside: photos, food, touch-up paints (just keep a little labeled jar), and paper goods.
CREATE CATEGORIES for all the keep items. Lay tarps or old sheets on the driveway for sorting onto. Make signs so your sorting categories are clearly defined. Categories may include yard care, tools, paint supplies, car care supplies, pet supplies, sports equipment, seasonal décor, camping gear, luggage, etc.
PURGE AND SORT. This means picking up each item and sorting it into trash, recycle, donate, sell, or one of the save or relocate categories. The temptation will be to defer decisions by putting things to the side. DON’T DO IT! Make the hard choices, but if you must, create a “think about it” box.
WRAP UP DAY ONE. Close up your donate/sell boxes. Schedule a Thrift Store pick-up or yard sale for the next weekend. Date your "???" and "think about it" boxes for 6-12 months out. At the end of that time, donate or sell anything that hasn't been taken out and used. Pull the tarps/sheets into the garage for night keeping your category signs intact.
CONTAINERIZE. If you want your garage to have a uniform look, purchase bins before you begin. You can always return the ones you don’t use. I like the Clear Stack 3-pack 45-quart bins from Costco (pictured in the Before/After pic), or these 44 quart Ziploc bins from Home Depot (pictured above). Their size and shape make them easy to handle. You’ll likely need a few larger ones as well.
If you did a good job purging you can use your own empty bins, instead of buying new. Avoid using cardboard boxes. They don’t protect their contents and are vulnerable to bugs and rodents.
Containerize and label according to your designated categories. For example, your “PAINT SUPPLIES” bin may store your paint brushes, rollers, masking tape, trays, tray liners, stirrers, drop cloths, etc.
SHELVING is a must for easy access to bins. Closed cabinets keep things a bit cleaner, but open shelves work well too. Make sure you measure and assemble your shelves so that they accommodate your bin size.
Keep like things together by placing your bins on the shelving according to their categories. Use the middle shelves for bins you use most. For rarely used items and seasonal storage, consider sturdy shelves that mount to the ceiling.
For easy access to frequently used items, place the lid under the bin, or if it's a large item it can sit directly on the shelf.
PEGBOARD. Not everything is best suited for bins. Create a home for tools in an organized tool box or on a pegboard. Accessorize your pegboard with hanging shelves, bins, and hooks. Designate what goes where by outlining each tool once it’s hung. You can also use a magnetic strip to hang your frequently used screw drivers, pliers, measuring tape, etc.
TRACKS. Wall-mount track-based systems are great for hanging everything from ladders, bikes, and garden tools, to extension cords, fishing supplies, and wheelbarrows. Attachments include shelves, baskets, hooks, and specialty containers for sports equipment. The attachments can adjust to your family’s changing needs. A couple of long nails will also hold your yard tools in place on the wall.
PARKING. Now that you’ve cleared space, map out designated parking for kids’ bikes, wagons, and scooters using colored duct tape on the floor and pictures on the garage wall. (I'm an Organizing Junkie idea!)
To ensure you park your cars correctly, hang a tennis ball from the ceiling. Place it so it touches the center of your windshield when you’re in the right spot. Or if you’d rather, you can leave the cars out, and set up your drum set for band practice. Maybe you’ll be the next Ringo!
The word “garage” is derived from the French word “garer” meaning to protect, shelter, or store. How's yours doing?