Your garage is a space oasis, not a dumping ground

Your garage is a space oasis, not a dumping ground

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Close your eyes and picture the inside of your garage. What do you see? Bicycles haphazardly leaning against the walls? A dirty wheelbarrow full of gardening tools? Boxes that you haven’t unpacked since you moved in four years ago? An overflowing recycling bin?

Chances are that you, like many people, have an “out of sight, out of mind” relationship with your garage. Instead of seeing — and using! — a garage’s useful space, we tend to think of the garage as the place you start stashing stuff once you run out of room in the basement. Oh, and a place to put a car. If there’s any room.

Your garage doesn’t have to be the armpit of your home. There are some things you can do to turn it into functional, usable space.

  1. Cleanse. Getting rid of stuff you never use, don’t want, or can’t stand is the first step. It’s amazing the amount of clutter human beings acquire as we go through our lives. And it can be hard to let go with so many of those physical objects imbued with memories or, sometimes more painfully, failed intentions (a dozen bags of mulch and rolls of landscape fabric you bought two years ago, or a stack of lumber that never managed to materialize into a tree house). But if you can’t fit your car in your garage, you need to reevaluate your garage situation. And maybe your life. Unless you love scraping ice off of your windshield every morning.
  2. Organize. Once you’ve made some room you can start putting away everything that’s left. It can be helpful to draw a map of your garage and think about where you would like things located. For example, if you’re an avid gardener, then storing your trowels and gardening gloves on a shelf near the ceiling doesn’t make sense, but if you’ve got Halloween or Christmas decorations that could be a good spot for them. There are a whole host of garage organization systems you can buy and companies that will install them for you. If you’ve got the money then go for it. If not, some peg board and shelving can go a long way. Your goal is to use the space efficiently. Get stuff off of the floor and onto the shelves and walls and even the ceiling. Just be careful that the materials you’re using can bear the weight of whatever you’re hanging from it.
  3. Decorate. Once you have things organized you can think about cosmetic issues. Do you want to epoxy the floor? Paint the dull walls a bright white? Put up twinkle lights? Great, go for it. But don’t think you can move all of your stuff out, pretty up the interior, and then shove all of that stuff back in. Until you’ve done step one, you can’t really do step two. And until you’ve done step two, or at least meticulously planned step two, then it doesn’t make sense to bother with step three.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “A garage saved is a garage earned.” Even the smallest of steps toward freeing your garage from looking like an episode of Storage Wars can go a long way. And your car will thank you.


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