This week’s challenge is garage organization, and I know at least for me this could not have come at a better time (even if it’s actually my storage shed that I’m working in).
My kids are now back in school, and the garage is a bit of a disaster from summer fun activities that all got piled in there, like an extraordinary amount of bikes!
I think many people feel this way at the end of the summer season, which is full of fun outdoor activities, and gardening and flower planting.
Are you new here? The Organize Your Garage Challenge is part of the 52 Week Home Organization Challenge. (Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren’t already a regular reader).
Step 1: Declutter Your Garage
Just like with the other storage areas we have in our homes, the attic and the basement, the garage may have become a dump it and forget it zone.
We may often place items in a sort of limbo in this area, deliberately putting off making decisions about them, not wanting to have to decide if we should continue to keep them in our home.
I know my family is definitely guilty of this, and so we’ve had some pretty big thing in our garage over the years including spare refrigerators, old dryers, and lots and lots of outgrown toys.
If you’re like me and you’ve got bulky or large items stashed in this space, you may need to rent a truck to get stuff to the dump, get a dumpster, or call a charity that can come out and pick up large items when you’re decluttering.
Step 2: Make A Plan For Your Garage Using Zones
While decluttering your garage you should have an end goal in mind of what you’d like to do with this area of your home. Since there can be a lot of space within your garage I find it handy to think of possible uses for it in zones.
Here are some of the possible zones you should consider using your garage for, during the Organize Your Garage Challenge.
Car Parking Zone
A major goal for many people when organizing the garage is to be able to park a car or two in there. Every time I need to pull my car out of this space, and don’t have to defrost it or scrape off ice and snow I say a silent “thank you” for a decluttered garage. Ahhh, the luxury! 🙂
If you feel this way, before you add anything back into the space after pulling everything out, pull your car(s) in and mark off how much space you need for the vehicles, such as with sidewalk chalk on the floor.
Don’t forget to calculate the space needed with the doors of the vehicles opened, so you and your family can easily get in and out.
Workshop Or Work Area Zone
Along with housing your vehicles your garage can serve other functions as well, depending on your wants and desires.
If you or your loved one likes to work and putter in the garage, either with tools, a gardening hobby, or whatever else, make sure to plan space for these activities.
It is also nice to have a flat clear surface you can use for doing small do it yourself projects, and your garage may be just the spot for it.
It is always good to plan to keep all the necessary tools and supplies for such work areas close at hand to this space, when planning this zone of your garage.
The other type of common zone for your garage is as a storage area. There is nothing wrong with storing items in your garage, and in fact it makes sense in many instances to keep items that are used outdoors at your home, or that relate to your vehicles, within this space.
Because of the amount of stuff you’ve got in your house, or because of how it is laid out, this may also be the place you store items that otherwise would go in some people’s basements or attics. (That is the case in our house, for example.)
If you’re using this area for that type of storage, as well, be mindful of the storage conditions you’ve got in your garage though. Consider the heat fluctuations (does it get very hot and very cold, or is it climate controlled), and is the area prone to rodents and insect pests?
Only store items in this area that can tolerate these conditions without being damaged.
Step 3: Organize Items You’re Keeping In Your Garage
The third step in the Garage Organization Challenge is to organize the items you’ve decided should stay in your garage according to the zones you’ve designated in step 2 above.
The first part of this process is to categorize all of the items you want to keep within this space, categorizing them and putting like items with like.
Common categories of items you may have, and want to keep in your garage include the following:
- Tools (of either power, or other varieties)
- Nuts and bolts, and other small parts
- Sports gear and equipment
- Lawn and garden equipment and supplies (already addressed in the Outdoor & Garden Storage Areas Challenge)
- Lawn or seasonal furniture
- Seasonal items, including holiday decorations as well as pool supplies and equipment
Next, designate an area in your garage for each category you’ve created. You may want to utilize some of the storage ideas and solutions I’ll mention below, in step 4, when trying to fit everything into the space you’ve designated for it.
As you organize, consider how you’ll store the items. With many small items it is best to place them into containers, instead of having them out loose. Containerize as many things as possible.
Putting things into boxes and bins is also helpful for keeping out pests, such as mice and bugs which could damage the items you have stored in there. It is best to use stackable plastic containers with good fitting tops, instead of cardboard, where possible, for this very reason.
On the other hand, realistically, large items (like bikes, lawn equipment, etc.) won’t often fit into a storage container and therefore those types of items must be dealt with individually.
Please realize, too, that only so much stuff can fit into an area, so as you work seriously consider whether all of these items you’ve decided should fit there really will.
If they won’t you may need to purge more items as clutter. Keep paring down until everything fits, without anything feeling too cramped.
Step 4: Consider These Garage Storage Solutions
More than other types of storage areas within your home, your garage does not typically have a lot of free floor space. Instead, the floor space must be kept clear so that you can park your cars.
Therefore, you really need to think outside the box when considering garage storage. Some of the best of these solutions that works for the garage include:
- Wall storage (including wall storage systems, such as the Rubbermaid FastTrack system shown above, and discussed in more detail in the linked article)
- Hooks and pegs (including the pegboard shown to the right, used for storing and organizing tools)
- Shelves — sturdy ones are best, but remember everything is out in the open when using them
- Storage cabinets (including those for small parts, as shown above), which are best for items that may need to be stored securely for safety reasons (such as chemicals), or to hold items you don’t want readily seen
- Overhead storage for items that aren’t used often, and can’t easily be stored on the walls
Step 5: Label And Inventory Your Garage Storage
The last step in the Garage Organization Challenge is to label all the boxes or other containers of stuff you’ve decided to store in there. Make sure to label all four sides of each container, as well as the top, so you can tell from any direction what is in the box.
In addition to the inventory of storage boxes, I also suggest labeling shelves and even areas of wall space within your garage. This helps everyone in your family know where to return various items after use, so your organizational system stays maintained.
Tell Me How The Garage Organization Challenge Is Going For You
I would love to know how this week’s Garage Organization Challenge is going. You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you’ve organized this area of your home in the comments below.