Saturday, January 20, 2018

Garage or Mirage?

May 15, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog

Seeing Your Garage in a New Light

Ah, the garage…something we always want when we’ve never had one and then, when we get it, we eventually can’t use it!

Do you remember when you were able to put your car in your garage? Wasn’t it wonderful? Now, how much stuff do you have to climb over or push aside to find your lawn mower, a yard tool or maybe your washer and dryer?  We need to find a way to turn the “garbage” back into a garage. Notice how similar those two words are!

Wikipedia defines a garage this way: “A residential garage is part of a home, or an associated building, designed or used for storing a vehicle or vehicles.” Are you chuckling or rolling your eyes in exasperation?

So–let’s take a good look at a hot problem area. The reality is that, for most of us, our garages are multi-purpose areas, whatever the “proper” definition is! We keep workbenches, laundry and kitchen appliances, necessary storage and unnecessary clutter in the garage to keep it all out of the house…yet, the fine line between sensible and overwhelming often eludes us!

Here’s how to tackle this daunting challenge — plan, organize, plan some more, and then voila – a usable, functional space that meets the specific needs of your household.

First step – Define what you need. Do you have sports equipment that needs storage? Do you buy items in bulk that need to be put away until you want them? Is someone in your family a handyperson, making the workbench a necessity?  Do you need room for pet paraphernalia? Does your garage also serve as a place for your washer and dryer? An extra freezer? Once you have defined your own personal needs, you can then focus on techniques for organizing.

The second step is to take photos or notes. Most of us have digital cameras or camera phones. Take pictures of the problem areas, along with notes for solutions. Print or download the pictures, add the notes, and you will see the beginning of a great organization system.

Next, focus on what to keep and what to toss. Do you have a broom with hardly any bristles? Sports or exercise equipment or very unique tools that you’ll never use again? An excess of holiday decorations that you don’t display any longer? Extra materials from your last house project? Let go of these things. Some can be tossed, and others can be donated or listed for sale on Craigslist or any local or regional for-sale site.

Now that you have the bones of what needs to be done, let’s “flesh out” the workability of your garage spaces. Here are the three key areas for which to plan–Walls, Ceilings and Floor Space. Each has its own importance in the organizing scheme.

Walls, whether just studs, or finished with sheet rock, can have shelves attached to store items out of the way, and off the floor. Pegboard and handle holders are great sources to hold tools, garden items and mops.

Ceilings can have added use with drop-down storage or permanent storage that provides a place to put seldom-used or awkwardly-sized or shaped items, such as skis, lumber, or seasonal decorations!

Floor space can, and should, be devoted to things you need access to regularly–garbage cans, washer and dryer (with overhead shelving) and your extra freezer or refrigerator.

Now make the plans become reality. Put up the shelving, the pegboard, the storage items that will make it possible to have neat organization for the items you have decided to keep. Plan to use plastic bins, which come in all sizes, to store perishables (including things like fabric or crafts) or dangerous chemicals out of reach. Label everything clearly, using a sharpie or label-maker. DATE your labels, as well as making a notation (on the container or in a notebook) each time you access the bins. Once a year, go through the bins, and if you haven’t accessed them for a year, it is time to discard!

Define each area, and store similar items together. Keep tools, pet supplies, sports equipment etc. in one accessible place. THEN KEEP THEM THERE! Get in the habit of returning items to the same place each and every time, for easy retrieval next time they are needed. Some folks use colored bins or labels to complete their method of organization – orange bins for Halloween, red for Christmas, green for gardening, etc. Pegboards can be similarly defined by using colored duct or cloth tape on the handles of tools, designating their use (plumbing tools, garden tools, car tools and so forth). Some people have gone so far as to outline the tool where it hangs on the pegboard, so there is no question about where to return it.

Now, take a moment to stand back and admire your work. How does your garage look now? If someone asked for a specific item, could you find it? Will a car fit in the garage now, should you want it to? Enjoy your feeling of accomplishment, and be sure you maintain the system you have so painstakingly put into place.



2 Responses to “Garage or Mirage?”
  1. Really nice info for garage owner. As a garage owner, just love your plans. I think every garage owner should focus on techniques for organizing workstation. Thanks

  2. admin says:

    Thank you Richard for your feedback. I’m glad you found it useful.

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