Spring is the best time to regain order in one of the most valuable storage spaces in your house.
The garage is a blessing and a curse. It provides so much valuable storage, but it is a scapegoat to stashing items that we don’t deal with daily. And without much notice it’s a hog-pog of clutter that needs to be addressed before the car doors start getting dinged. [that is, if the car can fit in the garage, still!]
All winter long when client Lacy didn’t know where to put something, she stuck it in the garage to deal with later. The outdoor cushions were shoved on the top shelf and are on the verge of an avalanche to the ground. The mud from the driveway is caked on the floor and the end of winter miss-matched gloves are staring her in the face. Does Lacy’s story sound familiar?
It’s time to do the spring-cleaning purge of the garage to make it more functional!
Let’s keep it simple because there will be many choices to make.
Mark on your calendar the day you’ll be conquering the garage. It’s not a delightful activity, so by putting it on your calendar there is accountability and anticipation. Enlist the entire family to pitch in. Have trash bags and boxes available for garbage and donation items.
2. WORK AROUND
Start on one side of the garage and work your way around to the other side. Don’t let yourself get distracted by walking away to put a screwdriver in the toolbox. Make a stack for tools and put them all away at once. Taking one designated area at a time creates more progress than looking at the whole garage as one big choice.
3. GOING OR STAYING
As you sort through items make a choice if the item will stay in the garage, go somewhere else on the property, or be taken off property [trash, donation, etc]. At this point in the process don’t get caught up in deciding where it’s final home will be, you just need to determine if it will be staying or going.
4. STAGE LIKE WITH LIKE
As you make the choice, the items that are staying can be staged with similar items together. [for example, yard treatment items, hardware, tools, adhesives, sports items, shoes, etc.]
Step 3 and 4 will take time. Turn on some tunes and make the most of it!
5. CLEAN SWEEP
Sweep and blow out all the winter’s dust, mud and bugs for a fresh floor.
5. COMPLETE THE PUZZLE
Now it’s time to start the puzzle of putting items back in a functional order. Analyze what types of times you are putting back in the space and how much space you actually have. Keep similar items together and items you use the most frequently, the most accessible.
· If the item is used often, keep it easily accessible, not nestled behind/in items
· Size of items and if they can be stored horizontally or vertically
· Use vertical space for storage -- Shelves and hooks can be very useful
· Store items off the ground as much as possible. The less you have to walk around the easier it is to maintain and know that each item has it’s proper place
· Containerize smaller items so similar items stay together.
· Minimize the lids – lids create a barrier for you putting items away. [disclaimer: garages are dusty & have bugs so use lids when necessary]
· Use enclosed storage chests to minimize dust & keep items contained
· For sports items, have a trashcan for bats and balls or a designated rack for storage. Kids [and adults!] are more apt to put things away if they have a specific place to go.
· Label as necessary, especially items up high.
· Store kids items low so they can access and put away
· Use clear containers so you can see what’s in the bin.
· Don’t keep what you don’t use at least once a year!
If you’re limited on space, prioritize and continue to downsize. It’s hard to minimize items we value, but if the space isn’t functional, we can’t value any of the items in the space. Consider other storage options or if one item can be used for two purposes to consolidate.
Make a plan for maintenance. No area in the house stays clutter free without some maintenance. Note on your calendar days to put items back that have gotten out of place and to sweep out the dust. Once items are in order, maintenance isn’t as laborious. But it takes diligence!
Client Lacy spent two days going through her garage with the help of her kids. It was a lot of work, but they uncovered some gems that they can play with as the weather gets nicer, and they took a truck load of items away to be donated! Now when she invites friends over on a beautiful spring evening and goes to pull out the skewers for the bonfire, she will know right where they are located.
Even the garage can manifest a place of peace and gatherings.
By Michelle Kuiken, Professional Organizer + Coach - The Proper Place