Friday, May 22, 2009

The Garage Whisperer

Oh gorgeous days! They won't last forever (or even a few weeks) so now is the time to take advantage of the relatively cool 80-something-degree days to declutter and organize your garage. Think about it -- is that where you want to be when the thermometer hits 95 degrees or so?!

It's actually pretty easy to make a big difference in a garage in a relatively short amount of time. It tends to be a catch-all for all manner of big, bulky stuff that we're not sure we really want or need anyway. Seasonal items also often end up in the garage as well as just plain, old trash!

First things first. Take a really hard look at the current contents of your garage. Using my favorite organizing method from Julie Morgenstern, S.P.A.C.E. (Sort-Purge-Assign a Home-Containerize-Equalize), begin to sort and purge items that you haven't used in a year or two. Toss, donate or recycle items as needed.

Side note: In a perfect world, you would empty your garage during this process. I hear the groans out there but, really, it's essential to clear the garage out completely before you begin putting items back in. An empty garage helps you accurately assess the usable space. And seeing the garage contents in your driveway and/or yard helps you get a very clear idea of how much stuff you are keeping. Otherwise, you might find yourself merely moving stuff around. You'll just have to trust me on this one!

Once you have sorted and purged, take a broom and sweep out the accumulated dust and dirt. Trust me on this one, it'll just make you feel better!

OK, time for assigning homes and containerizing! Take a good look at what you have left in your garage. Now look up. The ceiling and walls are valuable real estate in a garage. Anything you can get up and off the floor is going to pay dividends in "found" space. The Container Store, Home Depot and Target are all great places to find hooks, shelving and other item-specific organizing supplies. A couple of my favorite items are bike hangers and ladder hooks.

Give serious thought to creating zones in your garage, grouping like items for easy access. Sporting goods, camping supplies, yard and garden supplies, home repair and tools, and trash and recycling are probably a few of the most common zones found in garages. Again, use wall space and the ceiling to your advantage. Look around your house for containers that can be repurposed for use in the garage.

Now pat yourself on the back and drive your car into your newly organized garage! Don't forget the last letter of SPACE -- Equalize. In essence, this just means keeping your space organized through regular maintenance -- but SPACM just wasn't as memorable. When you get back from that camping trip, put your camp gear in the camp gear zone! After spending a glorious day in your garden, put all your tools in the garden zone. As Ben Franklin said, "A place for everything, everything in its place."

What's the strangest thing you've ever kept or found in your garage?

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