Garage organization: Whip your garage into shape
By Sirena Rubinoff, Networx
Has it been awhile since your car has actually seen the inside of your garage? Can't remember the last time you could actually use your cluttered work table for work? If any of these scenarios sound familiar to you or if you're just plain sick of the mess living in your garage, it's time to start your next home improvement project -- and this one will truly improve the value and look of your home. Garage clean-ups are a lot of work, but pay off big time. You'll be blown away by the amount of useable space left in your garage once you whip it into shape with these five cleaning tips. So, take a deep breath, get mentally prepared to deal with your garage's accumulated clutter and get ready to turn this oft-forgotten room of your home into a space you can be proud of!
Divide and Conquer
The first part of the organizing that is a must-do is also going to be the most mentally taxing. You will need to fight the packrat demons and actually go through all of the stuff in your garage. Divide everything into five categories: Used Regularly, Used Seasonally, Storage, Not Used, and Trash. Concentrate your "keeper" items into themed groups based on use and store them in this way once you've cleared or built space for them. For example, put everything you use for auto repair in one area and all of your sports gear in another area. Then, toss anything that's garbage and have a garage sale to get rid of anything you simply don't use anymore. Anything that is in good condition but doesn't get sold in the garage sale should be donated to charity.
Make Use of Your Walls
Add shelves, cabinets or closets to your garage walls for organized storage that is cleanly hidden from view. You can purchase prefabricated shelving from your local hardware store or you can build them yourself with a little lumber and some nails. Next, take a look at your remaining wall space and invest in hooks galore! You can and should hang almost anything with a relatively flat side to it. Ladders, rakes, brooms, shovels, folding lawn chairs, and repair tools are just a few of the items in your garage that will save space and look better in an organized fashion on your walls. Arrange your wall hanging according to object category and size and make sure to return items back to their spot on the wall when you're done using them.
Don't Forget About the Ceiling
You will be happily surprised by how much more space your garage will have in it when you transform your previously barren ceiling into useable storage space. Start by looking up and deciding what objects can simply be hung out of the way. Bikes and kayaks will free up tons of floor space when hung on hooks from your ceiling. You can build in even more space saving techniques by attaching shelves or cabinets high up on your walls so that the tops meet the ceiling. Remember to check out the structure of your garage before attempting to install ceiling shelving. Exposed beams are the easiest spots to attach brackets and other installation gear, but you can still work with drywall or false ceilings as long as you take the time to locate studs and structural beams. Then make sure to use strong mounting materials, such as galvanized lag bolts instead of screws to attach your new shelving. You can then use these out-of-the-way storage spaces for items that you do not use regularly. (Be careful with weight though -- you should store heavier items closer to the floor.)
Flash Your Floors and Surfaces
Aim to keep your garage floor and countertops free from anything that is not used regularly. Suitcases, seasonal sports gear, building and painting materials, etc. should always be returned to their assigned space and never left out to unnecessarily clutter the floor for weeks or months at a time after you've finished using them. Additionally, you should not let any regularly used items that are small and easily lost in a crowd (such as gardening tools) float around your floor or counter space. Make sure to put all tools back in a toolbox, on hooks, or in whatever specially assigned space you've given to them so that you always know where they are and you don't end up tripping over them when navigating your garage. Utilize the floor and surface areas of your garage as workspace or walking space and clean up after yourself when you're done with projects so that your garage maintains its clean, organized look.
Create More Space with an Outdoor Shed
If you have a yard and a set of appliances or tools used specifically for the yard, it's a good idea to consider building yourself an outdoor shed to house these items. Lawnmowers, hoses, buckets, shovels, etc. can all take up a lot of valuable space in a small garage. You'll find your space more useable if it is assigned based on function.
The main thing to remember once you've organized your garage is maintenance, maintenance, maintenance! Get used to putting tools and equipment back where they came from and do a routine clean-up after every major home improvement project that utilizes multiple items from the garage. Once you realize the potential cleanliness and order your garage can have, don't ever get caught in the muck of disorganization again. Your garage will look better; you'll feel better; and you will have a much easier time utilizing the items and space in your garage. Good luck!
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