Basement & Garage

Organize Your Garage to Keep Your Sanity

Those of us lucky enough to have a garage space in our home tend to take it for granted. This private and secure parking space can quickly become a 'catch-all' for myriad tools, products, and boxes of clothing-anything we just want out of sight. The problem is these items can also disappear from our mental inventory of possessions and, before you know it, become a garage full of stuff that you never use-or worse-forgot you ever had.

One of the problems with all this accumulated clutter is that the legit items that you need in your life, such as your tools or space for long-term storage, tend to get squeezed out or lost amid the mess. Here are some tips to help organize your garage to retain your sanity before you lose all hope.

1. Purge
Before you can even begin to organize the good stuff, you've got to remove the superfluous junk that you no longer need. That camping gear that you haven't touched in 10 years, get rid of it. Those clothes that will never come back in style, donate. Consider having a yard sale to try and squeeze a little cash out of your better discards.

2. Plan
Once you've got to the good stuff, you'll need to set a plan for organizing these items. First consider your layout and what items you'll need easy access to and what items can go in a more “permanent” storage location. Tools, clothing and household items should probably be front and center so you don't forget you have these items. Holiday decorations can be positioned further back as long as they are properly labeled and you know where to find them.

3. Organize
When you've decided where everything will go, you will need to determine how to physically organize the space. Open shelves are great for storing file boxes and power tools; getting them up off the floor and in an easy-to-reach position. Cabinets and drawers are good places for chemicals and cleaning fluids. Hooks are also great for getting things like bikes, brooms, and sporting equipment out of the way. Getting items off the floor is a huge factor in sorting out your space.

4. Label
As you begin to place your items on shelves or in storage bins, make sure you label them with BIG BOLD WORDS. Use tape and a Sharpie instead of writing directly on a box so you don't have to continue to cross out old contents. Be very clear on recording what items are in each box as this will save you time and headache later.

5. Keep it Clean
A clean and organized garage can quickly become messy. To prevent this, make a staging space on top of a box or counter in your garage where you can place items temporarily until they are stored in their proper place. This will save you from just haphazardly throwing boxes or items on top of boxes and starting the vicious cycle all over again.

For more on storage and organization, consider:

Optimize Your Attic Space
Quick Tip: Garage Storage Solutions
Basement Storage Ideas