This week's challenge is to organize your garage, and I know at least for me this could not have come at a better time.
My kids are now back in school, and the garage is a bit of a disaster from summer fun activities that all got piled in there, like an extraordinary amount of bikes!
I think many people feel this way at the end of the summer season, which is full of fun outdoor activities, and gardening and flower planting. Or perhaps you have needed extra storage space, and the garage was the default place to stick all that extra stuff.
Now that fall is creeping up it's time to be able to stick your car in the garage before snow, ice and frost are upon us.
So let's continue working on the storage areas of our home this week, which started last week with the basement, and is continuing next week with the attic, and clear the clutter and organize all the stuff we've got piled into the garage so we can use this space the way we want to!
Are you new here? The Organize Your Garage Challenge is part of the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home Challenge. (Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren't already a regular reader).
The first step in the Organize Your Garage Challenge is to get rid of all the junk and clutter your garage has accumulated, over time.
Just like with the other storage areas we have in our homes, the attic and the basement, the garage may have become a dump it and forget it zone.
We may often place items in a sort of limbo in this area, deliberately putting off making decisions about them, not wanting to have to decide if we should continue to keep them in our home.
I know my family is definitely guilty of this, and so we've had some pretty big thing in our garage over the years including spare refrigerators, old dryers, and lots and lots of outgrown toys.
If you're like me and you've got bulky or large items stashed in this space, you may need to rent a truck to get stuff to the dump, get a dumpster, or call a charity that can come out and pick up large items when you're decluttering.
(No, the picture below to the left isn't my exact garage, but there are times in my life that it could easily could have been!)
One of the best ways to declutter this space is to remove everything from it. Then, go through each item, deciding where it should go, using one of the six choices listed within the how to declutter your home article. Every item then must "earn" its spot back into your garage.
This method forces you to make hard decisions about items, and actually get rid of things that don't belong.
If you decide to put something in your home that was in the garage, don't just decide what room you'll place it in, but actually go in there and make a spot for the item so you're not just shifting clutter around without actually dealing with it.
You can also check out the getting rid of storage area clutter hall of fame for a list of all the decluttering missions I've suggested for these areas of your home and for additional inspiration.
While decluttering your garage you should have an end goal in mind of what you'd like to do with this area of your home. Since there can be a lot of space within your garage I find it handy to think of possible uses for it in zones.
Here are some of the possible zones you should consider using your garage for, during the Organize Your Garage Challenge.
A major goal for many people when organizing the garage is to be able to park a car or two in there. Every time I need to pull my car out of this space, and don't have to defrost it or scrape off ice and snow I say a silent "thank you" for a decluttered garage. Ahhh, the luxury! :)
If you feel this way, before you add anything back into the space after pulling everything out, pull your car(s) in and mark off how much space you need for the vehicles, such as with sidewalk chalk on the floor.
Don't forget to calculate the space needed with the doors of the vehicles opened, so you and your family can easily get in and out.
[Click to purchase on Amazon]
(pegboard sold separately)
Along with housing your vehicles your garage can serve other functions as well, depending on your wants and desires.
If you or your loved one likes to work and putter in the garage, either with tools, a gardening hobby, or whatever else, make sure to plan space for these activities.
It is also nice to have a flat clear surface you can use for doing small do it yourself projects, and your garage may be just the spot for it.
It is always good to plan to keep all the necessary tools and supplies for such work areas close at hand to this space, when planning this zone of your garage.
The other type of common zone for your garage is as a storage area. There is nothing wrong with storing items in your garage, and in fact it makes sense in many instances to keep items that are used outdoors at your home, or that relate to your vehicles, within this space.
Because of the amount of stuff you've got in your house, or because of how it is laid out, this may also be the place you store items that otherwise would go in some people's basements or attics. (That is the case in our house, for example.)
If you're using this area for that type of storage, as well, be mindful of the storage conditions you've got in your garage though. Consider the heat fluctations (does it get very hot and very cold, or is it climate controlled), and is the area prone to rodents and insect pests?
Only store items in this area that can tolerate these conditions without being damaged.
The third step in the Organize Your Garage Challenge is to organize the items you've decided should stay in your garage according to the zones you've designated in step 2 above.
The first part of this process is to categorize all of the items you want to keep within this space, categorizing them and putting like items with like.
Common categories of items you may have, and want to keep in your garage include the following:
Rubbermaid FastTrak garage wall storage system
available on Amazon.com [Click here to purchase]
Next, designate an area in your garage for each category you've created. You may want to utilize some of the storage ideas and solutions I'll mention below, in step 4, when trying to fit everything into the space you've designated for it.
Multi-drawer storage cabinet for small parts
[Click here to purchase on Amazon.com]
As you organize, consider how you'll store the items. With many small items it is best to place them into containers, instead of having them out loose. Containerize as many things as possible.
Putting things into boxes and bins is also helpful for keeping out pests, such as mice and bugs which could damage the items you have stored in there. It is best to use stackable plastic containers with good fitting tops, instead of cardboard, where possible, for this very reason.
On the other hand, realistically, large items (like bikes, lawn equipment, etc.) won't often fit into a storage container and therefore those types of items must be dealt with individually.
Please realize, too, that only so much stuff can fit into an area, so as you work seriously consider whether all of these items you've decided should fit there really will.
If they won't you may need to purge more items as clutter. Keep paring down until everything fits, without anything feeling too cramped.
More than other types of storage areas within your home, your garage does not typically have a lot of free floor space. Instead, the floor space must be kept clear so that you can park your cars.
Tool pegboard [Click here to
purchase on Amazon]
Therefore, you really need to think outside the box when considering garage storage, and that includes using some of my top 15 favorite types of storage solutions. Some of the best of these solutions that works for the garage include:
The last step in the Organize Your Garage Challenge is to label all the boxes or other containers of stuff you've decided to store in there. Make sure to label all four sides of each container, as well as the top, so you can tell from any direction what is in the box.
In addition, as you label each box with a short word or two about its contents, also number it, and fill out the garage storage inventory form I've created for you to use along with this challenge.
Using this form allows you to better remember the full contents of the container, and reference the list as needed so you can find what you want, when you need it.
In addition to the inventory of storage boxes, I also suggest labeling shelves and even areas of wall space within your garage. This helps everyone in your family know where to return various items after use, so your organizational system stays maintained.
I would love to know how this week's Organize Your Garage Challenge is going. You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you've organized this area of your home in the comments below.
I also would love to see before and after pictures of your organized garage, once you've completed the challenge. Submit your pictures (up to four per submission) and blog posts and get featured in the Creative Storage Solutions Hall of Fame. You've worked hard to get organized, so now here's your chance to show off!
We're working on our homes slowly, one area at a time, so don't get too distracted from the Organize Your Garage Challenge this week. However, I know some of you love to know what's coming next, so I'll tell you.
We're slowly working through the major storage areas in our home. Next week we'll do the last of them, as we tackle organizing the attic.
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