If you are planning to move in the next couple of years, it’s especially important to get control of large areas like the garage, which, for many of us, can be a repository for items we have deferred making decisions about. Making these decisions well before your move can save you time, stress (and money) when it is time to move. Remember that if you need help, the garage is a great place to start with a professional, like one of the organizers at The Move Makers.
Even if you are not planning a move, garages need some TLC. Fall is a great time to rethink and reorganize the garage. Since I have a petite home, my garage serves several important purposes. When things start to get cluttered, I know it’s time to take action before things get out of control.
Here is how I started my garage refresh project:
Make a plan for how you want to allocate the usable space in your garage. Though likely one of the largest spaces in your home, keeping things tidy and organized in your garage is important and will save you time, money and stress, whether you are moving or not. What functions does your garage perform? How much space are you willing to allot to each function? Below is how I decided to use the 2 available walls in my garage this time around:
- Items in Transition – 6’. I am conscientious about re-homing and recycling responsibly, so I am willing to dedicate a large area as a “waiting” area. There is room for clothing, Ridwell, recycling, donation, consignment, items going to family members and others, etc. This will also be my staging area for future impromptu decluttering sessions. It will be important to keep things moving out of this section. Note: This area is next to the garage door and driveway.
- Household Items – 4’. I am dedicating the space just outside my laundry room to household items. I have a busy household, and this area will hold cleaning supplies and equipment used by multiple people, other household supplies, empty bins and containers, guest supplies, etc.
- Gardening Supplies – 6’. Gardening is currently my favorite hobby and I have accumulated many tools and supplies, now located in several places. Gathering them in one central (and very visible) location and limiting the space to 6’ will help me keep things in check – and help to avoid a massive clean-out project down the road. This area is located next to the door to the yard.
- Tools and Project Supplies – 12’. This area includes an elfa desktop and 15 drawers. This allows me to have space to work, drawers for my tools and supplies, and shelves for my projects. Right now my photo and family movies occupy the shelves and the desktop is clean and ready for the next project. From experience, I know that keeping the desktop clean will be a constant challenge. This area is located nearest the door to the house.
Rethink your storage components. I have an Elfa shelving system in my garage, which I love for its flexibility. Each time I reorganize a space, I am able to quickly add or subtract components. Even if you have built-in or portable storage, moving or using it differently often adds vitality to the organizing process.
Work on one area at a time. Garage reorganizing may take some time, so don’t tear everything up at once, unless you have plenty of time, energy, motivation, and hopefully some dedicated helpers. Here are the steps I followed, along with some tips:
- Focus on one section at a time, removing items that don’t belong and adding items that do belong in the designated space. If, in the process, you come across broken items , things you no longer need or haven’t used in a couple of years (or more), move them directly to the “Items in Transition” area. Otherwise, don’t worry about sorting or making everything perfect, just keep going until you have gathered everything that belongs in the section, then move to the next section.
- Reconfigure the components. Now comes the fun part. Once you can see everything that belongs in each section, do a little bit of redesign if needed. Move, shelves, drawers, hooks, etc. to fit the new purpose of the space you are working on.
- Place items that are used regularly in the handiest locations. Begin by placing the most important items. This will give you time to rethink whether you even need the rest. It’s OK to have empty space. This year, my goal is to leave the very top shelves of the garage empty, so I won’t need to use a tall ladder. So far, so good.
- Keep the “Items in Transition” moving. Set up a regular schedule to disperse items in your holding area. This is a great task for friends and family members wanting to help.
Enjoy the results! I find myself strolling around the garage several times a day to admire my handiwork and plan the next section. I am sure this project will take me another month or two to complete, and carry me into my favorite time of year for organizing projects…Fall!