by Janel Ralat
Let me ask you a question, “Can you fit your car into your garage?” If the answer is no, then it may be time to get it organized. In fact, spring is the ideal season to do it before the summer heat hits. (Why do you think they call it spring cleaning??) Garages are often used as a storage unit with cardboard boxes, dusty bins, and broken electronics in precariously stacked piles. An organized garage is essential for outdoor gear, sports items, and more. Here are some tips on how to get your garage gear organized:
Maximize organization space
Most garages are limited on space, so it is important that you maximize your storage potential by using walls, the ceiling, and limited floor space efficiently. Ceiling mounted shelves, and peg boards and hooks for walls are just a few examples of the options available for garage storage. I highly recommend you consult a professional for shelving on the ceiling and walls to ensure that it is properly installed. Hooks can be added throughout the garage to hang gardening equipment, bags, tools, and even bikes from the ceiling. Peg boards are ideal for hanging tools, and you can now buy cubbies, baskets, and other peg board accessories. Ceiling mounted storage is great for storing luggage, holiday decorations, and other infrequently used items.
Make bins accessible
The struggle can be real when you’re trying to open that bottom bin from the pile of unsteady stacked bins. Incorporate shelving into your organization plan and give each bin their own shelf. This makes accessing them easier, and the bins will last longer. A good rule of thumb when storing bins is to keep ones you need to access frequently on the middle shelves, heavy on the bottom, and bins that store items only taken out once a year up high. Shelving also makes rearranging possible, plus it makes your garage look neat and tidy!
Creating zones is step two of our One Organized System. This is our planning stage once the purging has been done. This is where you create a space for every item you’re keeping. Group items together by activity, sports, auto, camping, water play, holidays, tools, pets, and gardening. Then create a zone in different areas of your garage based on the activity. This will make finding the items easier and more likely that you’ll put the items away, too. You could take it one step further by color coding each section. All camping equipment could be labeled with gray labels or in gray bins. Green for gardening, yellow for auto. Let your inner-organization nerd get super creative if you’re so inclined.
What is a transition zone? Think of it as the area that will keep you organized as you come and go. All you need is a couple of shelves and/or bins with two sections labeled, “AWAY” and “HOME”. The AWAY zone is for items that you need to take with you, donations to drop off, store returns, borrowed items just to name a few.
The HOME bin is your zone to place items as you walk in the door that need to stay until it’s time for you to go. Reusable grocery store bags, work items, and school backpacks are a few examples. These are the items that tend to build as clutter in your home and car. Adding small trash and recycle bins to this area is a great idea to toss junk mail and trash from your vehicle.
Create a Garage Binder
This can be an insert in your Home Binder or one dedicated to the garage only. Your binder can contain instruction manuals for garage items, a filter changing schedule, contents of bins that you’ve numbered (#15-Easter decorations and kids Easter baskets), and other relevant information that you can quickly access.
Cardboard vs. Plastic
My advice is to ditch the cardboard boxes and invest in sturdy bins to store your items. Cardboard boxes disintegrate over time, are susceptible to water damage jeopardizing contents, and do not prevent creepy crawlies and other pests. There are a variety of bins available, and I encourage you to stock up when they go on sale. Ensure that the lids fit snugly and that they are made of a sturdy material that will stand the test of time. One last note, do not write directly on the bin. Instead, use a removable label to notate the contents. You’ll thank me for this later.
Lastly, and most importantly, we encounter situations with families who have stored sentimental, important items, and even high-value property in garages. I cannot tell you the grief caused when these items are discovered damaged beyond repair. Most garages are not temperature controlled, and as stated above, items become susceptible to a variety of elements and harsh conditions, even theft. I leave you with one word of advice, please do not store items that you value in your garage.
Have I motivated you to get in there and start organizing yet?