Home Organization: How to park in your garage

No, this is not a tutorial on parking technique.

It’s about Reclaiming your garage for its designed purpose.

Organizational guru Vicki Norris of Restoring Order says the garage is best saved for last in your list of organizational endeavors because it so often contains things for which you have (hopefully) made places inside your house. Example: Light bulbs. In your efforts to get organized throughout the house, the thought is that your laundry room (perhaps) might be the home for such things as light bulbs, batteries, vacuum bags, rubber bands, etc.

But we’re going to do it the short-cut way, ‘cause I have a short attention span and face it, you do, too, or your garage wouldn’t be such a mess, right?

Norris recommends beginning with a list of categories: lawn/garden, luggage, overflow household supplies and pantry items, tools, camping/recreation, automotive, seasonal décor. Get some large boxes and label each with a category. I’ll add a couple more based on personal experience: Borrowed from neighbors, parts for cars we no longer own, cables, wires and computer gear from The Past, and Costco, where the 37 bottles of relish that was on sale will now go.

Here’s the fun part: now, empty the garage.

For each item found in the garage, assign it to one of the approved categories of things you’ve decided will indeed live in the garage, things that will go into a shed, or attic. Things that will be donated, recycled, or sent, postage due, to a person you have recently taken a strong dislike to. If you collected items for a project that you planned to do five years ago but never did, give it up already! Macrame will never come back into fashion. If you’re of grandma/grandpa vintage, consider wrapping up some vintage items and giving them to the grandkids/kids as keepsakes at Christmas. You’ll be lightening the load in the garage, meanwhile your family will feel too guilty to toss them or re-gift them because, well, they’re heirlooms, after all! Plus, you’ll save money on Christmas presents.

Paint. If you have old paint that’s not going to be used again, call around and see who will recycle it.

Now is the time to consider adding customized storage systems – when you can actually see what the content will be and while everything is in already-labeled boxes.

If you don’t have a shed, get one. Best storage solution for the dollar, and gives you your best chance for parking in your garage without paying a monthly fee for the privilege!

Bikes you never ride but like to own can be suspended from the ceiling (with a trapeze that will easily lower it should you want to ride). We used the RAD Cycle hoist which was indeed not as easily installed as advertised but the good news is, the bikes are off the floor.

In re-filling the garage, Norris suggests putting seldom-used items on the highest shelves. Stuff you don’t like but that you retain out of guilt can go on a shelf No One can reach (that hint is from me, you’re welcome).

A peg board is great for tools because it doesn’t require a box that then needs shelf space. If you don’t have a place for hardware, consider using jars – mason jars, Gerber babyfood jars, attach the lids to the bottom of a shelf with screws, fill the jar with nails, screws, bolts, whatever, then screw the jar into its lid. Ta da! No fancy organizers needed.

Norris’s best advice: Set your calendar for six months in the future, when you will Return to the Garage and make your organization sustainable by ensure that everything dumped in the garage has a home there or is Gone.

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