Last week we posed a question on our FB page: If a fairy godmother could wave a wand and clean/organize one space in your home, would you choose the kitchen or the garage? It was a close vote, but eventually the GARAGE emerged as the winner.
So today, we’re going to share our top tips for getting control of your garage.
Be forewarned: this space will look a lot worse before it looks better. Here are the steps to follow:
1.) Purge Grab two big trash bags. Starting in one corner of the garage, work your way in a circle and identify things that can be trashed or donated. Put them immediately into the correct bag; don’t second guess or peek in the bag again (this is key for you hoarders…we see ya’ over there holding onto that single ski pole you have been holding onto for 10 years). This step isn’t sexy. It may be painful. It may take you a week. But DO NOT skip this step. If you do… you will be wasting a whole lot of time and money storing things you don’t really need. As soon as you finish, deal with the trash/donations immediately. Put them in your car and drive straight to Habitat, Goodwill, House of Neighborly Service… wherever makes the most sense for the items you have. Do not stop at Starbucks. Do not pass go. Do not do ANYTHING ELSE until you have made those bags disappear. Phew! Bet you feel lighter already.
2.) Group Like with Like This is where it gets really, really messy. Pull everything off the shelves and make little piles of like items on the floor in the middle of the garage. Holiday decorations go together. Gardening items. Sports equipment. Odd collectibles that you refuse to part with. Whatever. Don’t stop until it’s all out and you can see what you have. You may find that you have to purge a little more. That’s ok! Now you’re ready for the next phase.
“A Place for Everything, Everything in Its Place”
While this time-tested proverb is true of any space in our homes, it is especially important in the garage because this space tends to become a dumping ground for all of the clutter that spills out of the house (don’t want to deal with it!) or the car (I’ll put it away later!). Sound familiar? The number one way to tackle the task of organizing your garage is to think really hard about what you want to store there and come up with a plan BEFORE you buy a single Rubbermaid tote.
Consider the following:
1.) What do I need to store? Sit down and make a list. Look at the piles on the floor of your garage and it should be very obvious what you need storage for. For each item, think about whether it will be something you access frequently (tools) or rarely (Christmas Decorations).
2.) What will be the best way to store this? Again, for each item, consider what will be the easiest way for you to access the item. Do bins work for you? Clear storage totes? A pegboard? Hooks? Some items like bikes and equipment may benefit from specialty hanging devices. If you need inspiration, browse the home store to see what is available
3.) Sketch it out. Don’t go too crazy here (unless you enjoy it of course). But drawing a rough plan of where you will put everything on paper before you start can really help solidify your plan and provide you with the structure you need to get the job done.
The Fun Part
This is the best part, we promise! It’s time to be inspired and go shopping. Venture over to Pinterest or Google and search for “garage organization + (whatever you need to store)”. You’ll be inundated with options… but since you did your homework already (look at you!) you can stay focused on the task at hand. Give yourself a good 30 minutes to an hour and jot down any ideas that seem feasible for you financially, skill-wise, and time-wise. If it looks too complicated…it is! Keep on scrollin’.
TIP: Don’t Overlook What You ALREADY Have!!!
When we organized our warehouse recently, part of the process entailed unboxing a bunch of wreaths to hang on the wall. Rather than toss the perfectly usable wreath boxes, we repurposed them to corral linens. It saved them from being tossed in the recycling and it saved US from having to go buy boxes. WIN-WIN! Are there sturdy boxes in your piles? Unused buckets? Ancient drawers that could be repainted and used to group like items on a shelf? If it’s container like and you can see a way to use it… go for it!
Beyond reusing and repurposing, here are our top tried and true tools:
1.) Shelves: They keep you organized, make good use of the vertical space, and keep things corralled. Sam’s/ Costco are our go to for solid industrial shelves, but check out Habitat too…you can find some steals there on shelving that works perfectly well for a garage.
2.) Pegboard: It is not expensive, easy to install, and stores frequently used items out in the open where you can see exactly what you’re working with. Again, check Habitat or Ebay for pegboard hooks/accessories. Extra Credit: Spray paint the pegboard a fun color that will make you smile. It’s adds a little extra joy to organizing… which I know doesn’t bring everyone as much satisfaction as it does for us. We know. We’re wierdos.
3.) Clear, Stackable Plastic Bins: Honestly, the best source for these is the dollar store. They carry the small plastic ones with lids that stack and you can place these on the shelves in a way that is orderly yet keeps the goods on display. For larger ones, which are ideal for holiday decorations and large items/collections… watch for sales around holidays at places like Walmart, Target, or Home Depot.
4.) Gallon/Quart Size Ziplock Baggies- We use these within the aforementioned clear plastic bins to further group like items. If a bin has “Hanging Hardware” we might put all the Command hooks in one baggie, nails in another, and suction cups in a third, for example.
5.) Baskets- Great for throwing a lot of miscellaneous items that are “grab and go” but don’t require a lot of order and organization. Think life jackets, pool toys, balls, etc.
Clean Up Your Act
You’ve purged, you’ve sorted, you’ve evaluated, you’ve planned and you’ve shopped… now it’s time to put it all together! Start by assembling any shelves/mounting any pegboard or wall system you might be using, then put everything in place. You’ve got the bones. Then execute the plan you made earlier, working your way through the piles on the floor. One by one pick the stuff up, put it in it’s bin/box/basket, and then bring it on home, baby! Place it on the shelf, the pegboard, or in the cupboard. If you are hanging specialty hooks to get items off the floor… you can do that as you go. If you did all of the other steps, this part goes fast and you will be looking smugly around your perfectly organized space in no time.
Advanced Option: Label bins with blue painters’ tape + a Sharpie OR a use a labelmaker.
You’re done! Take a nap!
This isn’t a process that is ever “done”, so you might as well wrap your head around that right now. You will be annoyed that you put that one thing on the top shelf and find that you have to make room for it somewhere more convenient. Summer will end and you’ll now need to find an out of the way space to store all those pool floaties. It’s an evolving process.
Just remember how hard you worked to get to where you are, and if you do your best to keep things in the places you’ve designated, you shouldn’t need to do more than a seasonal “tune up”.
And if you find that you still can’t keep it together… well… maybe it’s time for you to call Colorado Staging + Design and let us help you.
Thanks for reading friends! If anyone gets inspired and decides to actually attempt this process… make sure to send us a message or tag us in a post so we can help you celebrate your accomplishments!
The Colorado Staging + Design Team