Updated: May 30
Today in our step-by-step guide, we are finally ready to tackle the beast! Many times we are hired to organize an entire house, and in doing that we usually make a bigger mess than we organize during the first few appointments. This is mainly because almost everyone has at least a few items in the wrong rooms. I've definitely found kitchen items in the primary closet, in bedrooms and in bathrooms. The garage is usually the place where things go if we don't know what to do with them. It shouldn't be, though. The same as any other room in the house, it should serve a purpose and if something lives there, everyone in the home knows where to find it and put it away. Let's talk about common categories we see in a garage. They may include, but are certainly not limited to:
Lawn and Garden Equipment
Trash and Recycle Stations
Bikes and Outside Toys
Things that should NOT live in your garage are:
Memory Items or Photos (the outside temps are not good for these items)
Clothing (go through your clothing please if you are spilling over into the garage)
Cardboard Boxes (see below)
I know I am being picky here with the cardboard boxes, but my opinion is that cardboard boxes are for transport and VERY temporary storage only. They will not hold up to years of storage outside (or inside for that matter). If you have cardboard boxes containing things you'd like to keep, a great first step would be to address those items.
1) Transfer items in cardboard boxes into Plastic Tubs. I recommend using heavy duty tubs for the garage such as these. https://www.amazon.com/Yellow-27-Gallon-Storage-Containers-Stackable/dp/B089KR521Q/ref=sr_1_15?dchild=1&keywords=Heavy+duty+garage+bins&qid=1620751352&sr=8-15
As you are transferring things, be sure to go through the items and make sure they should be stored together (like with like) and that you still want to keep them. Label these new containers and you will have all of those ready to go once we've planned the space.
2) Unload the garage, keeping your categories in mind. As you are unloading the garage contents into your driveway, think in terms of putting all tools into one area, all car washing stuff into another area, etc. This will help you to see how much of each category you have and will help you determine how much space to allocate to each category. This will help you plan the space later.
3) Go through the categories. You've pulled everything out. You've put them into categories. Now's the important part and the part where you will gain the most space. Touch EVERYTHING and determine its fate. It makes it more fun if you think of it in those terms. If you have things that belong to someone else, text that person right now and make solid plans for them to come get it. Otherwise, it's going to Goodwill! Contain the items you are keeping in appropriate containers. Most will be those beautiful bins I mentioned above, but some items are too big for those and we will address those in a moment.
4) Plan the space. In the garage, we want to have zones. Tools are on one wall, car stuff and garden on another wall. Think about how you will contain those items. Are they going in bins? You may need a set of shelves to hold those bins. Do you have a tool box? Is it big enough? Do you have too many tools? If you find that there are categories you no longer need or use, donate them or recycle. If they fall into a chemical category, google places near you that accept those items. Make a zone for things that you have to take someplace else too. Be sure to plan time to take items to be donated and so on. Otherwise those babies will sit in your garage until the next time you go to organize it.😳
5) Build shelves. I recommend looking into something like this: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Husky-Black-4-Tier-Heavy-Duty-Industrial-Welded-Steel-Garage-Shelving-Unit-77-in-W-x-78-in-H-x-24-in-D-HBR782478W4/310651468
Be sure to measure your space before buying or building anything. Also be sure to take your sturdy bins into account as far as the size. We will want to store our new beautiful garage bins with the short side facing out which will allow us to store more bins on each shelf. Winning!
6) Mount wall organizers. If you'd like your lawn tools mounted on the wall, plan a space for those. Maybe it's closest to the garage door since they go in and out of that side of the garage often. Plan a space nearby for the lawnmower if you have one. Most of the disorganization in a garage (besides being a dumping ground) is because we don't have the proper tools to store things. If you want rails running all the way down one side of your garage for tools, then do it!
7) Put it all together! Depending on how much stuff you have in your garage, it may have taken you some time to get to this point. It's ok! Doing it the first time will take longer, but maintenance will be much faster. Put all your categories into bins. Try not to mix categories or label anything as "Misc" - it's a weird pet peeve of mine! Label all of your bins and put them into their zone. Make sure you label all the bins on both the short side and the long side. You will want to see what's in the bins at a glance, no matter how wonky everything gets over the next few months, which brings us to:
8) Maintenance - Every few weeks or so, go out and maintain your garage. Now that it's orderly, maintenance should not be too complicated or rigorous. Usually for us, we need to break down boxes (thanks Amazon!), take donations to Goodwill, and put things back into their place. We have a couple of areas that are flat surfaces (things tend to gravitate there) that we need to clear off. Most of the time it's boxes and tools that are out of place. We do our best to coordinate our box break down day close to our bulk trash pick up day. That way, we are taking care of our garage once a month, which is usually enough.
As always, if this sounds too overwhelming to you or completely uninteresting that's ok! We can come do this for you! If you are in the DFW area or Austin, Texas we can get you on the calendar. If not, let us organize your garage virtually. We will talk about your goals and I will make personalized recommendations for your space. I will send you links for what to order and we can talk through every step in the process. Either way, you will love your newly organized garage! Let me know if this step-by-step guide has helped you. We love hearing from you - keep it coming!