Why do so many of us store one of our most expensive belongings outside where it’s exposed to weather and other potential hazards? Probably because we can’t fit a car, let alone two or more, in the garage. But there are many benefits to garage parking, making it worthwhile to spend some time getting organized.
Back to Getting Organized
As you’re taking down and storing your holiday decorations, it’s the perfect time to talk about garage organization. Yes, seriously. It’ll make your life easier throughout the year, including next winter when you start your annual search for that acrylic snowman and his wife.
Let’s go ahead and start with your holiday decorations. Put them away in bins organized by category – outdoor lights, indoor lights, Christmas ornaments, etc. Okay, now do this with all of your seasonal items. Some of us love color-coding by holiday – red/green for Christmas, orange/black for Halloween, purple/pink for Easter. Or, purchase transparent storage boxes so you can tell what’s inside without opening them. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s a system that makes sense to you and that you’ll remember in six months. Then slap a sticker on the front, explaining what’s inside. Don’t have a fancy label-maker? Duct tape and a sharpie will work just fine.
A Shelf for Every Elf
If you already have shelves in your garage, organize your storage boxes on them chronologically starting at the beginning of the year and working your way across. If not, you’ll want to install some. If you’re not handy (or don't want to hire a handyman), you can find shelving kits at your favorite hardware store that you can easily assemble. We know we don’t need to tell you this, but be sure to measure your available space before you head for the store. You’ll also want to measure the storage containers to make sure they fit on the shelves you choose.
You can probably tell where we’re going with this, but the key to organization (of any room) is for everything to have its own place. That way you, and the other members of your family, know where things go when you’re done with them. And you (hopefully) won’t have items cluttering up your counters because nobody knows where to put them.
Think through how you use your things and create storage spaces accordingly. If you camp, create a camping section for all of your equipment so you can just grab and go. Assuming you don’t use this all year long, it doesn’t have to be immediately accessible.
Cabinets or metal shelving are great for automotive and painting supplies. We love pegboard for tools for oh so many things. Again, measure your space and then have the hardware store cut the pegboard to fit. It’s relatively easy to install and you’ll have a blast with the pegboard accessories, that include everything from small containers for nuts and bolts to stronger hooks for your power tools. Again, arrange by category – all your screwdrivers in one place, extension cords in another.
A quick visit to our Pinterest page will give you even more ideas on how to organize your garage and other rooms in your home.
A Bin for When You Can’t Even
Place a drop-it bin next to your garage door where you can put things when you don’t have time to put them away. But be sure to empty it out every few weeks so it doesn’t become a junk drawer.
Do You Really Need It?
By not immediately knowing where things are, many of us end up buying more than we need — items that end up getting tossed into our pile of stuff when we’re done with them. When you start compartmentalizing, you’ll be able to see what these are.
Look at everything and decide whether or not you really need it. Do you really need those four power saws or that stack of pavers left over from your last project? Probably not. A garage sale is a great way to make some money off your organizational skills. Or, if you’re not into garage saling, consider donating to Habitat For Humanity’s Restore, a thrift store specializing in household items (also a great place to shop!).
You can also arrange to have a non-profit come to your home and pick up your donations. Just make sure they’ll take the category of item you have to donate. And don't make them pick through your junk. If it doesn’t work, dispose of it or hire a junk removal service.
Craigslist.org and Freecycle.org are free, convenient ways to find people looking for what you’re trying to sell or give away. And DontTrashNevada.org has extensive information on how to properly dispose of hazardous waste and larger items. Do not, we repeat, do not, think of dumping them on public lands. This is not only bad for the environment, it carries a hefty fine.
Chances are good there are items in your garage that do not belong in your garage. Go through them and decide whether they’re worth keeping or not. Memories and sentimental boxes can be packaged up well in rodent-resistant containers and then stored in the eaves at the top of your garage or in your attic if you have one. As you look through the other items, decide whether or not you really, truly need to keep them. How many times have you moved that box of knick-knacks without opening it?
Your garage can be a great place for storing your hobby supplies, whether it’s yarn or party glasses. Just designate it so they don’t get mixed in with everything else. And make sure the items being stored in the garage don’t need to be in a temperature-controlled environment (like food items) as our garages are not usually insulated from the Nevada elements like the rest of our houses are.
Keep It Up!
Here’s the key to all of this – keep it organized. Put things away as you use them and then make it a point a few times a year to do a thorough organization. Holidays are a great time to do this since you’ll be moving boxes around anyway. On your seasonal organizational time, decide again whether or not you really need all this stuff.
Don't have a garage to organize yet? We've got your back. Check out our Home Is Possible family of homebuyer programs. Bonus money, attractive interest rates and/or annual tax savings can help you afford your dream home and your dream garage.