But there is one part of the house many people might forget – the garage.
It’s the place people usually store their seasonal items, sports equipment and yard tools. The out of sight, out of mind nature of a garage also makes it an ideal dumping ground for orphan items.
The piles starts to grow and soon finding anything, removing anything and remembering anything that’s stored there becomes a challenge.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
There are tricks and tips that can make the most out of available space while creating easy access. Things can be stored on the floor, the walls and even up above. There’s some prep work that needs to happen before any shuffling, moving and storing happens.
Local decluttering expert Danae Talerico, declutterwithdanae.com, said the first step for any organizing project is the purge. She said her rule of thumb is to get rid of anything that hasn’t been used in a year, excluding collectibles and sentimental items.
“That means get rid of that flat football your kids haven’t touched in years,” she said. “That old rusty bike with flat tires, duplicate items, and, yes, even that grow your garden kit you swore you were going to use three summers ago.”
Next it’s time to assess and inventory what is in the garage and figure out how much space is needed. Is the garage used for cars as well? Is there an extra freezer or refrigerator out there that needs clear access?
“Determine whether all the items in your garage should live in the garage,” Talerico said. “Do you have a shed? Larger yard tools, lawn mowers, and snow shovels can be tucked away and free up space.”
Professional organizer and More Than Organized (morethanorganized.net) business owner Miriam Ortiz y Pino said she likes to keep it simple. Easily finding and being able to get to things should take precedence over aesthetics.
“Think grab and go,” she said. “It doesn’t need to be fancy. You need some shelves and bins.”
Finally comes the organizing.
• Invest in shelves. Vertical storage is ideal. Those who are handy can build their own, but shelves are also a pretty common item at hardware stores. They come in various sizes and materials. Wire shelving can be hung from the walls but is best for items that are not as heavy. Floor shelves take up more space but are more sturdy.
• Use bare wall space to hang items, especially gardening tools if a shed is not available. If the garage is being used to park a car, wide shelving might not be ideal on every wall. Create a mounting system using horizontal woods strips. Attach the wood strips to the wall horizontally. Install hooks and other hardware along the wood strips to hang equipment. Small shelves and pegboards can also be installed.
• Buy plastic storage bins and tubs. There are several options and sizes that are affordable. Plastic is ideal for a garage environment.
“Consider how dusty an item can get,” Ortiz y Pino said. “Also, use very little paper or cardboard in your garage because of critters and pests.”
Talerico said it’s important to label the bins. You can use a label maker, or painter’s tape and a Sharpie. The tape is easy to remove and replace if the bin is used for a different item down the road.
• Think in categories. When deciding where to store things, Ortiz y Pino said she likes to group things by their use. Sports equipment goes in one area, gardening in another, camping gear all together and so on. It makes it easier to locate items when a certain part of the garage is dedicated to them.
• Reserve space for seasonal items. Set aside a space for holiday decor. If there is outdoor summer furniture or other items that must come in during the colder months, leave room for that as well.
• Keep hazardous materials up high and in their original containers so they are out of reach of children and pets. Locking them up in a cabinet is also an option. Antifreeze and other spills of hazardous material should be immediately cleaned.
• Store ladders horizontally or on hooks. Instinct might be to just lean a ladder against a wall but this can create a hazard.
• Consider repurposing what you already have for storage. Jars are great for storing screws and nails. The top of the jar can be screwed onto the underside of a shelf.
• Don’t forget about the ceiling. Bikes can be hung from above and rafters can be used to store lighter weight, long items that aren’t used all the time. Those without rafters can invest in ceiling-mounted shelves.
• Build a storage system for fishing rods using a pool noodle, which is inexpensive, and a 3-inch PVC pipe. Drill holes in the PVC pipe for the bottom of the rod and slice cuts into the pool noodle where the top of the rod will rest. Attach both to the wall, PVC pipe on bottom, using nails or screws.
• Finally, make sure to seal and secure all doors leading to the garage to protect everything that’s stored in there, including the family car. Repair broken windows, replace door sweeps and weather stripping on the garage.