Imagine having a garage you could actually park a car in. Garages tend to be a dumping ground for most people. There generally isn’t much thought to layout or room design. It’s where we place all the things that we need (and things we don’t) but don’t want to see in our homes. However, the garage is just like any other room in our home. It has a function...most likely it’s a multipurpose space, so therefore the configuration of the room does matter.
Ideally when you begin to clean out your garage, you would be able to empty it out completely, sort, and then only bring back things that you need. However, that may not be possible. Especially if cleaning out your garage is a project that you are spacing out over several weekends. Don’t worry, it can still be done! Work shelf by shelf! Clear off the space, clean it and place back the items you have decided to keep. The first phase of your garage cleanout is simply to eliminate all the junk.
See my previous blog for tips on where to go to donate unwanted items. If you come across some paint cans that you no longer need/want, these can be dropped off at your local paint supply store for recycling (all paint cans must still have labels). Note: paint cannot be thrown away in your regular weekly garbage pick up. Your city will most likely also designate a day every month in when you can drop off hazardous waste.
Once you have gotten your garage to a point where it has been decluttered. Create zones. The goal is to keep like items together. This is the phase where layout becomes important. You want to think about the purpose of the space and create zones. For example:
- Kids toys and games
- Athletic equipment
- Car supplies
- Gardening supplies
- Holiday decorations
- Camping equipment
When creating areas for these items, be sure to think about frequency of use. Make sure that you have easy access to the things you use regularly. Keep seasonal items higher up. Be creative with where you can store things. Think vertically. The rafters above the garage door is often wasted space….think of keeping your ski equipment there!
It is best not to buy any shelving, cabinetry, or even storage bins until AFTER you have finished decluttering and sorting your belongings. This way you will have a truer sense of the space and what it is needed for. Try not to use cardboard boxes if possible. They don’t hold up well over time and tend to make things look messy. It is also a good idea to get the same types of storage bins. Not only is this visually more orderly, but it will allow to you to stack items more easily and save on space!
Label all shelves, cabinets and storage bins. The garage will look great when you are finished, but if things are not labeled, it makes it that much easier to regress back into chaos. Labeling will help you maintain order. You wont find yourself trying to designate zones again 6 months from now!