By Guest Author: Scott Roewer
Now that the kids are back in school, it's time to think to think of Fall cleaning and organizing campaign outside... to the garage. Make the most of this underappreciated space in your home and get it ready for smart storage and for working on your favorite projects. With Winter just around the corner, organizing the garage in order to get the family auto parked overnight inside, is a great goal. Here are the steps to take:
1. Designate separate spaces or zones in which to group like items together, such as sports gear, gardening tools, automotive supplies, house repair, etc. It makes finding things easy, clean up is simple, and overall a more functional workspace.
2. When it comes to storing off-season or occasional items in the garage, nothing beats stackable, clear plastic bins. Make sure they have tight sealing lids like the Rubbermaid Roughneck line, to protect your belongings from moisture and critters. Not everything needs to be in a bin with a lid, especially if you're accessing the items frequently.
3. Pegboards are terrific for vertical storage and they come in a variety of sizes and materials. Useful for hanging everything from gardening tools or hand tools, pegboards are also versatile, so you can adjust them as your needs change. Choose a system that is sturdy enough to carry the weight you need. For a dressed-up look, check out this pegboard system.
4. Give yourself some room. If lack of space is keeping you from your list of DIY projects, make your garage more functional by adding the right workbench. Wall mounted versions like this fold-down model give you the surface you need without taking up any floor space. Add casters to any table to make your workstation mobile, and when you're done, tuck it neatly out of the way again. Gladiator Garage works makes a handy, adjustable leg workbench I plan to have in my next garage.
5. Whenever possible, use open shelving instead of cabinets. Not only are they easier to install and less expensive, they also take up less room because you don't need to allow for swinging doors. They also let you see everything you've got, increasing the space's functionality. One exception would be a cabinet with doors that can be locked to store hazardous chemicals if you have small children, especially if the chemicals cannot be stored high out of reach.
6. The only way to keep organized is to keep an eye on what you have. One idea is to store the tiny tidbits on your tool shelves in clear spice jars, so you won't have to hunt them down when you need them, or mount the jars under a shelf. I use a parts organizer like this for my spare hardware. If you have drawers, try painting them with chalkboard paint, so you can clearly label - and re-label - what's inside.
7. Not everything is appropriate to store in your garage. If you think you're saving money buying paper goods in bulk, you'll be throwing that money away if you leave them out to become insect bait. Paint should also be moved inside, as it will be ruined by extreme weather if your garage isn't climate controlled.
8. It may be easy to just lean a ladder up against the wall when not in use, but that can be an accident waiting to happen. Avoid having it tip over onto your car - or worse, on a person - by laying it down horizontally and pushing it against the wall. If possible, keep it off the floor entirely by storing your ladder on hooks.
9. Repurpose wire closet shelving by screwing them into the ceiling joists in your garage. It creates a huge amount of storage for things you don't need to get to regularly, and you can always see what's overhead.
10. Once your garage is organized, for an even more streamlined look, install moisture resistant curtains to hide your storage and work spaces. You can also use it as an opportunity to add a pop of color to the typically stark surfaces of a garage. You could even consider laminating posters or your kids' artwork to create some visual interest in the garage.
Scott Roewer, Certified Professional Organizer is founder of SolutionsbyScott.com, a Washington, D.C.-based professional organization company devoted to teaching residential and business clients, to create and maintain organization systems, master their time management skills, and dramatically increase their productivity.
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