Organized Home: Great Garage Solutions

Your garage doesn’t need to be a dumping ground for stuff you don’t know what to do with.  It can be a well-organized, useful part of your home. And it shouldn’t take as long as you think – with these simple tips, it should only take a few hours to a weekend. Make a plan today to organize your garage soon; you’ll be glad you did.

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Don’t get overwhelmed; make a small-steps plan.  We’d been talking about organizing our garage for a few months because we’d made it a dumping ground over the last year.  It was easier to put it in the garage and not think about it.  Since the weather was nice yesterday, we made it happen. The project seemed a little daunting, we have lots of stuff in the garage, but we decided to focus on small steps to make the project seem more manageable – and it worked!

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Take everything out of the garage.  Our first step was to give us space to work and organize, so we took everything out of the garage.  My husband had the great idea to put similar items together – like sports equipment and holiday decorations – so when we needed to put everything back in, it would be easier.

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Realize that not everything can go back into the garage.  It’s time to make some tough decisions, you can’t save your just-in-case items.  If you haven’t used it in a year, or 10 years for some of our items, you can’t put it back in the garage.  Donate it, recycle it or trash it – but don’t save it. By getting rid of unused items, you’ll save money (because you don’t need as many storage items), you’ll give yourself more time (it takes time to sort through items) and you’ll reduce stress (believe it or not, this clutter can cause you unnecessary stress – regularly). Bonus Tip! Set a time to clean your garage annually.  We use our Spring Break time for larger projects.  When you make it a priority, you make it easier to accomplish. Make a recurring calendar appointment to make it easier to remember.

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Give yourself room to think & rearrange.  As we were taking everything out of the garage, it gave us more open space to move items around and gave us a fresh start to think about reorganizing our space the right way.  If you have helpers, divide into two teams – the “removal” team and the “rearranging” team.  This will save you time and keep everyone busy. For our project, it was just my husband and me, so we were the “removal” team first and the “rearranging” team second.

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The right storage containers make a big difference.  You shouldn’t leave your important-items storage to chance.  Invest in sturdy, water-proof containers and durable shelving for your garage, if you don’t already own them.  This limits surprises that may ruin your stored items. Bonus tip! Label everything.  When your containers all look the same, using a labeling system saves you time and trouble.  Label items in the same spot so it looks more uniform.

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Use what you already own; just re-think it.  You don’t have to spend tons of money to organize your garage – or any other space.  Use items you already own to make your new storage solutions.  We used a slim trash can for sports bats & bags and an inside toy box for outside toys.  I hardly ever purchase new items for organizing and storage – I like to think of it as a challenge to think of a creative solution for items we already own. For this project, we spent $100 – purchasing two new deep, sturdy storage shelves.  We already owned everything else.

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Remember all of your available space. Wall and ceiling storage areas are both valuable real-estate.  Your large or awkward items may be better stored hanging on wall hooks, giving you more floor storage space for other items.

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Create storage zones.  When you’re adding items back in your garage, store similar items together. Everything will be easier to find, reduces purchasing unnecessary duplicates and improves your success to keep it this organized. Store the most used items in the easiest to reach locations and store the periodically used items in less convenient places. We have tools, camping gear, holiday decorations, toys, and sports gear all stored in our garage – each now has their own zone.

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Celebrate when it comes together.  Now when I look at our garage, I can breathe a sigh of relief instead of feeling stressed.  We use our garage regularly and now it’s a great place that we can access necessary items and find everything quickly and easily.  The whole project took us 2 hours start to finish.

Your garage can be more organized.  You can make it happen sooner than you think.  Figure out when you have time (even 2 hours can make a difference), invite some helpers (great project for the whole family – even kids) and gather necessary supplies (remember, you don’t have to purchase new items, use what you already own).  By making this space a priority, you’ll make it a space that really works for you.

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