By Lisa Siglag
From Home Sweet Solutions
Are you asking yourself "How did my garage get this way?" You're not alone, according to Dr. Alison Segal, a clinical psychologist and the owner of Declutter & Destress, an organizational service based in White Plains, N.Y. "To start, you don't want to think of your garage as a dumping ground," says Segal. That's how your garage gets filled with stuff and becomes a storage unit rather than a place for your car. She recommends figuring out the intended purpose for your space and then creating zones to organize different functions.
Here are some specific steps to help you organize your garage.
Take everything out of your garage. "This way, you can look at what you have," says Segal. Once you take everything out into the daylight, you'll probably be surprised at the amount of stuff you've accumulated in your garage.
Assess what you have. Weed out any broken items. Are there items that you don't use but can recycle by giving to a friend or family member? Also, think about things you may want to sell to fund your garage project, suggests Segal. Whatever cash you make at the garage sale will offset any materials you buy to organize your garage.
Make distinct piles of your items. Create "Toss," "Sell," "Recycle" and "Keep" areas so you really have a sense of what you need to do. Also, by creating areas, family members can review the items easily.
Measure your garage. See how much usable space you have for storage. Measure the length and height of all three walls. "It's important to go vertical," says Segal. "Keep the floor space as clean as possible."
Determine what you'll need for each zone. For example, if you want a workshop, you'll need tool storage and a workbench. Some workbenches, like the Kobalt Stainless Steel Heavy Duty piece, are equipped with a built-in light, which comes in very handy when working in your garage. For paint cans and flowerpots, you may want shelves or cabinets.
Get bike storage. Rather than having your bikes take up valuable parking space in your garage, consider installing wall-mounted hooks or racks for your bicycles. For easy access to kids' bikes, you can purchase a stand -- such as the ProStar Two Bicycle Floor Stand -- that will keep their bikes neatly on the floor in a designated area.
Hang up your ladder. Most likely, your oversized ladder doesn't get that much use, so you may consider hanging your ladder horizontally close to the ceiling. Make sure that it is secure and that you've used heavy-duty hooks to hang it.
Look up to consider ceiling storage for your garage. You can suspend items from your ceiling using a hook and pulley system. (This may need to be installed by a professional you're not handy.)
Make items easily accessible. For items that you use frequently, consider hooks and peg boards. With hooks, you won't be rummaging around to find your favorite gardening shovel. There are also premade tool hanger racks available at your local home centers that will do the trick.
Label everything. For the tool chest, for your cabinets and even for shelves, try to label where everything goes. This will help you to easily find any item you're looking for and will encourage you and your family members to put the objects back in the right spot. For less than $30, you can get a great label-maker, like this P-Touch, which can also be of use when organizing your home office, attic storage and kids' school supplies.
Lisa Siglag is the former editor of House Beautiful Kitchens and Baths and a freelance writer specializing in home design. She has written for Good Housekeeping, House Beautiful Home Remodeling and Decorating, Custom Home and Country Living. Her dining room is graced with white beadboard and pale-blue walls. Lisa's articles have previously appeared in Home Sweet Solutions.
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