By Vanessa Brunner, Houzz
Garages tend to become dumps for just about everything. Because they’re such
big open spaces, they're easy targets for that suitcase that won't fit in the
closet, the rollerblades your daughter doesn't want to give away yet, and
anything else that doesn't have a set place.
But Saturday is National Clean Out Your Garage Day, the perfect reason to
roll up your sleeves and dive head first into the clutter. Sound impossible? Not
if you break it down into steps. Here are 6 tips to help you clean your way to a
neat and organized garage — where you may even have room to park the car.
Photos: Get inspired by 6 well-organized
1. Use as much vertical and ceiling space as possible. This rule is
particularly important if you're planning to keep your car here. Make sure
you'll have room to pull the car in without running into — or over — anything.
For Janet Henry in Illinois, getting everything up and off of the floor
was a priority, so removing as much junk as possible was a must. "The biggest
challenge was just getting started," she says. After a yard sale, it took her
three days to paint the walls, scour the floor, and paint the cabinetry to get
the garage spic and span. "I make it a point to sweep it out and wipe things up
every week,” she says. “I want it to stay nice for a long time."
Janet’s goal was to create a space that was clean, organized, and presentable
when the garage door was open. Luckily, she has a shed and a basement where
extra-large equipment can go. This is a great solution for anyone who has a
smaller garage; small storage sheds can be built and installed relatively
inexpensively. "Just driving into a nice, clean space is great," Janet says.
Getting stuff off the floor was also a priority for Sarah of the blog, Thrifty Decor Chick. Her garage had become like
so many others: a place to store every possible bit of clutter. She picked up
some holders from the hardware store for brooms, rakes and mops — anything with
a handle. Heavy-duty hooks took care of the rest.
Originally, Sarah had simple open-wire shelving for the back of her garage,
but the open shelves ended up discouraging organization. Everyone would shove
things onto the shelves until they became a mishmash. Later she invested in a
few simple closed-storage pieces from Target. The cabinet doors made all the
2. Before reorganizing, try taking everything out of your garage. Looking at
the space you have as a blank canvas can give you a better idea of what you're
working with. Ivan Prefer of Hillsdale, New Jersey has a vertical storage setup
similar to the previous two garages, but has also incorporated a neat and tidy
workshop area towards the back. Working with a clean slate can help you decide
which areas are best to designate for certain activities.
3. Decide what to keep, what to donate, and what to throw away. When you find
yourself questioning a particular item, ask yourself:
-Do I love it?
-Do I need it?
-When was the last time I used this?
-If I donated it, could it be safely used by another
Clearing out clutter is incredibly satisfying, and odds are you won't really
miss that fifth spare tennis racket. When in doubt, donate or toss it. Recycle
and donate as much as possible, and dispose of paint and other hazardous waste
4. Group like items together so they're easy to find. For Chris Carey from
the blog Just a Girl, the garage was a tricky space
because it's also the way most people enter the home. She decided that even
though it was a garage, it didn't necessarily have to look like one.
few coats of paint, metal shelving and some cute decals for the door transformed
the space without requiring a lot of money. Chris put frequently-used items —
drinks, paper towel, toilet paper, cleaning materials — on a handy shelf.
Like Chris, Erin of Sunny Side Up tends to use her garage door as the
main entrance for her home — so it often becomes a gathering place for shoes and
A neat and tidy shoe and coat rack encourages her children to
place their own clothes in the right place and makes it easy when searching for
that much-loved pair of pink Velcro sneakers.
5. Decide which area of the garage is going to be used for what purpose.
Think carefully about what you want your garage to be used for, and the best
possible way this space can be divided.
For Mikki Lesowitz-Soliday of Sherman Oaks Calif., the priority
was to clean out her garage and transform it into a studio where her craft
group and classes could meet. However, space still had to be allotted for
storage and workout equipment. By dividing up the room into zones, she set up a
space that made sense and was still neat and organized.
Mikki’s biggest challenge was trying to figure out what to do with
extra-large things such as four bicycles, lawn equipment and lots of luggage.
Instead of attempting to cram everything in the garage, they built a long,
narrow shed outside for those items. That left room inside for two large tables,
a sewing station and plenty of art and craft supplies.
"I have loads of
storage, which I recognize is a real luxury," she says. "But I'm always purging
everything from art supplies to my kids' clothes. It’s the key to staying
6. Label absolutely everything. If you’re tired of drawers and bins full of a
hodgepodge of nails, screws, and bolts, take the time to sort each piece by type
and label your storage containers and shelves accordingly. Tedious? Yes. Worth
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