Garage Organization

Here are some fundamentals to help move some of the clutter out of your garage.
By Robert Martin

For many homeowners, the words "garage" and "storage space" are synonymous, but that assumption wears thin when parking the car inside requires divine intervention. So the next time you're forced to squeeze past a barrier of boxes and various yard items to get in the house, take advantage of the following tips--along with warm summer days--for a better, more organized vehicle-and-storage shelter.

From Cluttered to Contained

While organizing a garage certainly isn't rocket science, knowing the fundamentals will lead to a more successful outcome.

  • Get rid of those things you don't need. Sounds simple, but most of us harbor pack rat tendencies that are difficult to break. Whether you hold a garage sale (see "Garage Sale Advice" on the following page for some tips), donate the stuff to charity, or rent a dump truck, your actions will pay off. Those old hedge clippers with both blades broken--chuck them. The 1970s hi-fi stereo that still works, complete with turntable and eight-track player--sell it. Whatever the condition of the items, chances are your garage needs a long-awaited purging. (Note: If you plan to set things out for trash pickup, be sure to verify what your local sanitation department will and will not take.)
  • Group similar things together. Again, this is another simple idea, but it is equally important. What good is a toolbox when its contents are scattered from one end of the garage to the other? The same applies to yard equipment. You may own four different rakes, a couple of shovels, and various other tools, but when the time comes to use them, they're nowhere in sight. Solve this problem by designating certain areas for specific items. Locate those things you use on a regular basis up front, near the garage door. Put boxes of holiday ornaments and other out-of-season items where they're not in the way. When everything has a place, it will be much easier to keep the space organized. (Tip: Park your car in the garage, open all doors, and draw boundary lines with a piece of chalk on the floor. Now, back the car out--with doors shut, naturally. What's left inside is a defined guide for storage and parking.)
 

Good Storage Sense

  • Maximize wall and ceiling space. The options are endless here--hooks, Peg-Board panels, shelving units, storage bins, racks, and so on. Even garage attic space, if exposed or accessible, allows a way to get things up and out of the way. Two notes of caution, though: Always make sure that you have correctly secured a chosen storage system into the garage's wall studs or ceiling joists. Also, don't overload shelving or bin units. Instead, place heavier items on lower levels and lighter objects on top. Elevating things off the floor will help with sweeping and cleaning as well.
  • Stow hazardous materials well out of harm's way. Products such as paint thinners, gas and antifreeze containers, fertilizers, cleaning supplies, and other chemicals can prove dangerous in the wrong hands. Likewise, certain substances placed together can chemically react, resulting in explosions and even fires. Group like items, and store in cabinets that lock and provide ventilation. Also, before tossing these materials, contact your community's sanitation or fire department for proper disposal techniques.

Garage Sale Advice

Here are some tips to make your next sale more manageable.

  • Check with your local town hall or city council for any ordinances pertaining to garage sales. Also, be aware of any laws that limit or prohibit neighborhood advertising.
  • Plan. The more time for deciding what to sell and how much each item should cost, the better. Also, give iffy items the benefit of the doubt. One man's trash is another's treasure.
  • Advertise. Take advantage of community and workplace bulletin boards and local newspapers. Once your sale is over, don't forget to remove any signs or flyers.
  • If possible, keep all sale items out of sight or behind closed doors until you're ready for the mad dash to begin. Allow yourself just enough time to set up. (Tip: Post a sign on your garage door stating the correct starting time; stress that early comers will just have to wait.)
  • Arrange items either by category or by similar price. Make sure that prices are clearly marked.
  • Have an ample amount of change, along with $1 and $5 bills. Be willing to negotiate on price as well--within reason and with a smile, of course.