Making Room...in the Garage

My husband is fond of relaying his recent experience of having our garage cleaned out and organized. I use the term fond a bit loosely. Whenever the conversation with friends or family turns to anything organizing, he chimes in with this story. You see, he arrived home one day to find the contents of the garage in the driveway. His first reaction was something along the lines of, “What the heck is going on here?” He hadn’t granted permission to our children, grown men, who (thankfully) agree with me that there is just too much stuff in there. A lot of it is typical of what you might find in a garage. There’s stuff that would be useful for household projects – if said projects were to be done. There’s leftover this and that from projects gone by as well as the usual seasonal paraphernalia.

And by the way, I do park my car in the garage.

Garage Runneth Over

A lot of American garages are so stuffed to overflowing that there’s simply no room for a vehicle. In fact, an everyday ORGANiZiNG newsletter referenced a UCLA study that found three out of four respondents had so much clutter in the garage, there was no room for a car. It’s startling considering that 80% of home buyers factor in having a garage when making a decision to purchase. A garage door replacement had the highest average return, yielding almost 100% of the project cost at the time of resale. That’s a hefty influence and investment to safeguard the home’s biggest junk drawer.

The garage does seem like a logical place to store some items. Without a shed, yard and gardening tools likely call the garage home, as do bicycles and other outdoor toys or equipment. But it also becomes the drop zone for things to be dealt with later, or not at all.

Reclaim Space in the Garage

There are certain things that should just not be stored in the garage. Anything that is vulnerable to the fluctuating temperatures or items that hold value, monetary or sentimental, should not be housed there. Hazardous materials, especially anything that can ignite should be stored outside. Things that will attract pests (the rodent and bug variety) are included in this category. That means food, clothing, papers, even pet food should not be kept in the garage. And cardboard boxes especially should not be used as storage containers for their attractiveness to pests. It’s time to find new homes for these items.

Once you know they types of objects that will live in the garage, map out a plan and create zones for each category. Take advantage of lots of vertical wall space. Mounted pegboards, hooks and brackets provide easy access for garden supplies and sports equipment. Free-standing, floating or shelves on a track system are good options to hold bins of auto supplies, camping gear or tools. It’s best to keep everything up off the floor whenever possible.

If you have extra plywood sitting in your garage, just in case a project comes along, it may now become useful. Use it to cover an open stud wall creating a solid backdrop for installing shelves, hooks and brackets. Don’t overlook ceiling storage, either, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the garage door mechanism. Some of these rack systems operate with pulleys so while stuff is stored up and away, it’s easy to access when you need it.

Clutter Check

Maintaining your newly organized garage is worth the investment of time and materials it cost to declare it a clutter-free zone. Each season may bring temptation to shove another thing or two in the garage so use the changing seasons as a reminder to do a clutter check. Your car will thank you.

 Photo: Rubbermaid Track System