Tag Archives: Garage

Organizing a cluttered and messy garage

Q: I need help! My garage has everything in it but my car, which can’t fit because of all of the other stuff in it. I don’t even know where to begin.

A: Don’t despair, clutter is a challenge that we all face. To begin, remove everything from your garage. I know this sounds intimidating, but this is the only way you will clearly see what you are holding onto. Start three piles outside on the lawn and separate your clutter into: throw away, donate and keep. Follow this rule: keep only what you’ve used in the past year or plan on using in the near future, i.e. within six months! If you can’t part with something because it has sentimental value, consider whether it’s the item that holds the good memories or simply the memory itself that is good. Remember that memories take up a lot less space than the items associated with them.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
.
San Diego Professional Organizer

Posted in Articles & Advice, Blog, Organizing, Organizing Tips | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Garage Playroom Before & After

Garage Before Garage Before

Before: Can you believe 2 little boys can make this much of a mess? Of course you can. These boys had too many toys and they were taking over the garage.

 

Garage After

After: We needed to create zones to keep the toys and other garage essentials contained. Our zones were: music, bikes and vehicles, working out, lego/trains, and outside toys/sports equipment.

Garage After

We laid down foam squares to mark the lego/train zone and keep it contained. We created 2 bins with each boys’ name for the toys that they don’t share so they are each responsible for their own toys.

We lined up all of the bicycles and vehicles in the front so they can be easily taken outside. We put all of the workout equipment together.

Garage After

In the corner, we set up the drum set and other music equipment from both the garage and other areas of the house. Now all of the music making happens in the garage, and not in the house.

We also corralled all of the balls, bats, etc into a floating basket on wheels which could be wheeled outside to the basketball hoop or yard for sports.

Garage After

Toys are now contained in bins. Nerf guns and their ammo are housed together in a cabinet. The many small parts that we came across were separated out, and we asked the boys what they went to and which were worth keeping.

Anything that did not fit into the zones was put away in another part of the house. Once the rest of the house is organized, there shouldn’t be any temptation to stash things in the garage that don’t belong.

Posted in Blog, Garage, Kids Room, Organizing Before & After, Organizing Tips, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tips to Help You Get Your Garage Organized

As with any other space within your home, a well-organized garage always has a premeditated layout and design. Unfortunately, most people don’t give much thought about what goes into their garage and it frequently ends up becoming a dumping zone for all things unwanted, unused or loved.

In order to begin getting your garage in order, you need to determine what activities will take place in your garage. As with every other area in your home, you have to know what your end goals are before you begin to plan the layout. Perhaps you, like many others will have a laundry area, but will it also store sports equipment, garden supplies and holiday décor? Will it feature a workout or workshop area?

Take a walk through your garage. Check out what goodies have ended up there and then begin to visualize what items truly are goodies instead of things that are simply old, unloved and abandoned.

 

Once you have decided what items you will keep in your garage, you can create a practical plan for each zone you need to create within your space. For instance, if your washer and dryer are located in your garage. it makes sense to position the laundry area closest to the interior door. Gardening supplies and the lawnmower should be towards the front and side of the garage to keep the dirt toward the outer perimeter and away from the laundry zone. I will talk more about your laundry zone in a bit.

Every well- designed garage will include some type of storage. Does your garage have pre-existing shelving or cabinets? The ideal strategy is to use one entire wall for storage. The wall on the left side of the garage is typically good for shelves because you can set the perimeter to allow for your car door to open. Cabinets/shelves are typically 20-24 inches deep and should fit easily along the wall where you will park the car. Using this wall for storage will keep lawnmowers etc from banging into your car door. And yes – I am suggesting that you put your car back into the garage even if it hasn’t ever seen the inside of your garage! Your car is one of your largest investments, so it makes sense to give it a home within your home.

Open shelves on the wall closest to your home entrance will conveniently store household supplies bought in bulk.

Make sure to use every inch of vertical space, floor to ceiling and wall to wall. Buy the tallest available cabinets or shelves to totally optimize the space along your wall. If you still have overhead space after installing these cabinets, consider running another shelf above to hold holiday boxes or tax archives.

When you think your plan is complete, look again at the space above each zone. You can never have too much storage. Consider adding more shelving in the areas that have empty wall space or above the garage door. Holiday decorations should be grouped together and stored high and out of the way. There are companies that specialize in overhead garage door storage units. This storage area works well for large items like skis, extra lumber and building supplies. If you are a ‘do-it-yourselfer’, most home improvement stores sell kits for overhead storage shelving.

Garden supplies can be stacked neatly in two rows of large plastic bins with lids. Extra potting soil, mixes and pots can be stored in the two bottom bins. Tools, seeds and bulbs can be stored neatly within the top bins. Sectionalize your smaller items within the larger bins with ziplock baggies and smaller shoebox size bins. If you don’t have an existing potting station, keep an empty plastic bin on top of this stack to use for potting plants. By the time you have stacked three of these bins on top of each other, you have a convenient waist-high workstation.

Almost every garage needs a tool zone. Even if we are not that handy, we all need the occasional hammer and nail. Being a fan of organized spaces, even as a child, one of my favorite organizing solutions was when my Dad nailed the lids of old baby food jars to the underside of his tool cabinet. He used these jars to store his nails, screws and small parts within. When he needed a nail, he simply unscrewed the lid and removed the jar from it’s hanging space. I thought he was brilliant and I loved that solution so much that I always offered to help him screw the bottles back onto their lids.

So, think about what you want to accomplish within your garage and get going!

If you get stuck and want a jump start for getting your entire home organized, check out my online do-it-yourself course ~ Home Organizing Made Simple

 

Posted in Articles & Advice, Blog, Organizing, Organizing Tips | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Organize backyard garden shed

Garden Shed

As summer arrives and the yard and garden beckon, the problem of the jumbled storage shed becomes apparent. Fortunately, a few easy tips can help you make your shed an asset instead of a hindrance.

The key is organization. Four walls and a roof will protect your tools from the elements, but finding what you want when you want it may be a chore. Often sheds are used as extra storage space for items which, upon reflection, are not really needed at all. Cleaning out your shed and adding some built in organizers can make all the difference.

The first step to a better organized shed is to clear out the rubbish. Items that you really need to keep may be better stored in your house. Anything you haven’t used in over a year may be unnecessary to your life! Consider carefully each item and its use to you. Does it pull its weight in exchange for the space it occupies?

Sentiment often makes us hold on to belongings that would be better off finding new homes. Consider donating items you simply cannot bring yourself to throw away; some-one else may be grateful to have them and you can enjoy the thought that they still have value. Check with your local charities, or see if your community has a trade off recycling program.

Any items that remain to be stored can be put in identically sized bins with lids, and filed away for future reference. Any shelving you install can be easily customized so that the bins will fit neatly. This makes retrieval a snap! Label the visible sides, and post a list inside the door that will help you remember which bin holds what.

Once you have narrowed down the items you need to store, you can begin to plan your new shelving system. Wall to wall and ceiling to floor shelves yield the maximum storage space. Depending on the size and shape of your shed, your best bet may be to install this type of shelving on the back wall as well as along one side.

Long-handled tools such as rakes, spades and shovels should hang on the remaining wall. A pegboard can be installed for smaller tools. A garden caddy can hold miscellaneous items: gloves, seed packets, and even a tube of sunscreen or a hat.

If you do a lot of gardening, you may wish to customize your shed a little. Adding a small potting bench or table can make a corner into a handy workstation. Add shelves above to store pots, and bins below for soil and fertilizer.

If your shed is too small for such project, consider building one on the exterior against one of the walls. Mount a piece of lattice to hang your tools, or add hooks to the sides of the bench itself. A waterproof bin can be utilized for soil and additives.

Once you have organized your shed, every lawn and garden chore will be that much easier. By utilizing your space to its highest potential, you avoid wasted time and frustration. The hours saved by not having to dig through the shed for an elusive tool can be spent on that special gardening project instead!

Posted in Articles & Advice, Blog, Organizing, Organizing Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taking back and organizing your garage

Organized Garage

Would you like to use your garage for its intended purpose? If you open the garage door and see a wall of clutter, don’t despair. A little elbow grease and organization can free your car from its exile on the driveway.

We live in a world where more is – well, more. Our grandparents’ generation taught us to be thrifty and never to throw anything away, but many of us have taken this to an extreme. Our garages are the battlefield, and our vehicles the casualties… and the enemy is TOO MUCH STUFF.

Plan your garage liberation for the day after trash pickup, or the weekend before your local bulk trash day. Your supplies will need to include boxes of all shapes and sizes, a large number of trash bags, and your recycle bins. Place these at the front of the garage for easy access.

A Professional Organizer can be of great help, and is well worth the money when balanced off against the time wasted and favors owing at the end of an exhausting DIY weekend. If you can plan on hiring such a guide, he or she can help you save valuable time and energy by cutting down the time needed to complete the process. If you choose to forgo this option, you will be forced to recruit a small army from the ranks of friends, neighbors and family, and risk defeat at the hands of your self inflicted mess.

A well thought out plan of attack is vital for success. Create a timeline for your helpers and delegate tasks according to ability. Plan to spend at least two consecutive days for this project; you shouldn’t really leave items out on the drive for longer than this, and once you launch your effort you won’t want to let up until the field is won. Losing your momentum in mid-charge can force you into beating an ignominious retreat!

Start by leading a scouting party into the depths of your garage. There are many items that do not necessarily have to be stored in this area, but end up there by default. They may include:

Luggage (can be moved to an indoor closet or the attic)

Paints and lawn and garden equipment (an outdoor shed is actually a safer place for these items than your garage due to fumes and chemicals)

Other items you may find in your initial foray are tools, gardening supplies, bulk groceries and recycling paraphernalia. Bicycles, sports equipment and camping gear may also make the garage their home, along with Christmas decorations and automotive supplies. Decide which things can be relocated and which will need to be organized into a smaller section of your garage space.

Once you have made these determinations, Pull every thing out of your garage and begin a series of groups on your driveway. Use boxes to corral small items and make sorting easier.

Stop and consider carefully any item you plan to put in the keep pile. Question your motives. Are you keeping it because of guilt or a misplaced sense of responsibility? Is it useful to you? Does it hold good memories or bad? What would be the long term effects of discarding it? If you haven’t used the item in the last two years, you probably don’t need it at all. Remember that each item that goes back into the garage will take up space, and require energy to move if another reorganization becomes necessary.

Throw away any broken items. If you have two identical items, get rid of one. Recycle, donate or give away items that do not fit either the keep or trash categories. If you come across random items or spare parts you need to keep, sort them according to category and store them in the smallest possible container. Put loose objects in small boxes and label them; tape a list to the outside of each box to make them easy to locate if needed.

As the garage is cleared and you can actually see the floor again, start planning how to divide it in to useable zones. Zone locations will depend on frequency of use and the space available. Being able to park your vehicle is naturally your primary goal, and you can draw a chalk outline on the floor to denote the space needed to enter and exit your car comfortably. Make a list of what you need to store and you will get a pretty good idea of what specialized zones will be required.

Once your belongings have been culled and sorted, you can more readily determine where each category should live within these zones. If your laundry room is located in the garage you will need to ensure you have space to maneuver, and a spot for detergent and other supplies. A work bench space can prove invaluable for tool organization and small home projects. Stack boxes up off the ground on a pallet or other raised platform to guard against water damage in case of flooding.

Put frequently used things where they can be easily accessed when needed. Recycling bins should go by the inside door, gardening tools by the fertilizer, etc. Bulk goods can go on a large shelf near the home entrance and other commonly used items on eye level shelves around the perimeter.

Once you have defeated the foe of disorganization, you will need to be vigilant to prevent its return. A few hours of maintenance at the start of each season can work wonders, and forming the habit of putting everything back in its assigned spot after use will keep your garage spotless. Follow this strategy and restore your dispossessed car to its rightful kingdom!

Posted in Articles & Advice, Blog, Organizing, Organizing Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Organizing garages

Messy Garage

Dear Kathi,

We have a two car garage and cannot fit one car into it. This is the year that we have vowed to turn our storage area back into a garage. I know that there has to be other ways to store my stuff and still have a garage that is useful. How do you handle a garage full of everything but the car?

Carole,
Encinitas

Carole,

Don’t despair, there are plenty of people in Southern California with the same dilemna who have solved their problem. Begin by emptying everything out of your garage. As you pick up each item to move it out, determine if it is to keep, donate, recycle or toss into the trash.

If you feel that an item is a keeper, this means only one of three things: you will move it into your home and out of the garage, it lives in the garage and is regularly used (ie lawnmower, holiday decorations, Costco overstock etc), 0r it will be re-purposed or passed on to someone who needs it. An item should only be kept because you know that it has a purpose or you want to see it on a daily basis.

For the other items that don’t really seem to belong in your life any longer, do yourself a favor. Get rid of them and do not put them back into your garage for the next time you clean out. Do not save anything that you have not used in the past two years ( and that is being liberal) and especially if you haven’t yet used it but have it saved a for a rainy day.

We live in Southern California, which is a desert after all! If you have a load of momentos, do yourself a favor and put them all in one pile. Go through them one by one and try to downsize to only one plastic bin per family member. Your children will not want most of their keepsakes and certainly will not want to sort through yours at a later date. Do it now during this process. Set these items aside and do not let them back into your garage until they have been downsized and refitted into plastic tubs. If they are worth keeping, you do not want to store them in cardboard boxes.

A note about cardboard: Boxes are not a great medium to store anything in. The gum in the adhesive attracts bugs and they will move in over time to feast on the glue. Use plastic bins for long term storage. These bins also keep water damage at bay. As you move items back into your garage, think about creating zones for different categories of items. One wall could be sports equipment like golf clubs, bicycles etc. Another wall could be the tool zone.

Keep your once a year decor along with your memento bins up and out of the way. They do not need to take up valuable floor space and are the perfect candidates for high in the rafters or on the top shelf.

By the time you are done with this exercise, you will probably have all of your trash cans filled plus a few more bags. Plan your garage project the day before the trash pickup. Also, be sure to call your favorite charity to schedule a pick up of your donation items at the end of the day you are working on the garage and you will have the satisfaction of being clean and clear of all of your discards.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

San Diego Professional Organizer

Posted in Articles & Advice, Blog, Organizing, Organizing Tips | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A garage gets organized






Before 1

Situation: This client has a 3 car garage with no room left for her car. She has lived in this home for 6 years and her car has never once seen the inside of the garage.

Before 2   Before 3

Challenge: This client grew up in a family without much money, and was taught to buy at sales, stock up and to save everything. She has a hard time letting go of things that may be useful some day, or things that she spent money on. “If the item has value, one can’t just throw it away,” she said.

After 1   After 2

Solution: We eliminated the stuff she wasn’t using. While going through what she could get rid of, she realized that these things were not serving her at all, so she was ready to let go of them and pass the on to someone who can use them. Her holiday decor and supplies are organized and easy to find, and her long term storage is safely stored away in plastic bins, with empty ones left over for future storage. We donated all of her unwanted items to her favorite charity.

After 3   After 4

The garage now has the car inside with storage against the walls. Her significant other said that the garage is “like night and day”, and this client can’t wait for her friends to see her organized garage.

 

Posted in Articles & Advice, Blog, Garage, Organizing, Organizing Before & After, Organizing Tips | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Organizing baggage

Baggage Sign

Dear Kathi,

I have a three-bedroom home with a two-car garage. I recently took on a new roommate who agreed to bring in only a TV and his clothes. He would put the rest of his possessions into storage because the room he rents is completely furnished. This is the problem: he has moved many of his belongings into my garage. I don’t want to be difficult and would like to try to accommodate his items. Right now, however, he is blocking my gaming area where I have several pinball machines. What can I do to optimize my space more efficiently and fit more storage into this space?

James, San Diego

James,

I appreciate your wishing to accommodate a roommate who has overstepped his agreement. Putting one’s things in storage usually means one’s own storage, not someone else’s! In most difficult situations there is a middle ground. In this case it sounds like your roommate has gone over your invisible (to him) boundary line. You might negotiate him storing some of his things in your garage, perhaps only to the extent that he not impinge on your gaming space, or whichever limits you choose to impose. That way you could create a win-win situation: helping him out while still retaining the essential garage space you need for yourself.

It is hard to give specific organizing advice without seeing exactly what is in your garage. The standard organizing process would be to take inventory of the all the loose items and the larger immovable items, like your pinball machines, washing machine, etc.

I’m not sure if you have a laundry section within your garage or if you park your car there. Let’s assume you do laundry, play pinball and keep storage items in your garage, without trying to accommodate an automobile. If this is the case, you basically have three zones within this space. Knowing this, you will want to group all items related to each activity within their appropriate zone.

Storage items, like your new roommate’s boxes are best stored floor to ceiling on shelving units against a long sidewall. One swift way to reduce the clutter of storage items is to buy large plastic bins. Fill these bins, label and stack them together. Rectangular bins save space and fit nicely onto shelves. If you decide to allow your roommate to keep his items in the garage, you can at least insist that he repack his belongings into plastic bins. They save space and are the best way to protect against water and dust damage.

Consider hanging cupboards above the washer and dryer to hold extra cleaning supplies. If you have room, a small roller unit that fits between or on one side of the washer and dryer can hold the laundry soap, spot remover, bleach, dryer sheets, etc. If you use an ironing board, consider buying a unit that installs into the wall or one that hangs directly from the wall and tucks away when not in use. This will optimize floor space.

One of my favorite laundry tools to save space and time is the professional grade clothes steamer. I haven’t used an iron since I received my steamer as a gift over ten years ago! This unit, which requires only one foot of floor space, steams wrinkles out of clothes more quickly than any iron. If you are not familiar with this handy tool, you can find it online by searching ‘garment steamer’ or ‘clothes steamer.’ A wonderful space and time saving device! Make sure to buy the floor model on wheels for the most effortless steaming.

If this column hasn’t completely addressed your dilemma, please email me with more specifics about your garage predicament and I will do my best to advise.
Thanks for writing and don’t hesitate to write with any other specific questions.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

San Diego Professional Organizer

Posted in Articles & Advice, Blog, Organizing, Organizing Tips | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Finding storage in small spaces

May is National Moving Month and also, ironically, National Mental Health Month. Use this fabulous month to de-stress and de-clutter even it you aren’t moving!

Dear Kathi,

I currently reside in a 2Br/2Ba Apt with my husband. Our second bedroom is a MESS. It’s a computer room, ironing room, guest room and storage room. I really need some organization in there. With such limited space, I just don’t have the ideas that a professional would. I am to the point now of frustration and I need to clean up. I do have a garage to store items also, but I am nervous about what to store there due to mold, etc…

Lisa, San Diego

Lisa,

Think about the many activities that take place in your spare room and decide which activities take priority. Can some activities be delegated to other areas within your home? Gather a few plastic bins, empty boxes and trash bags.

After determining which activities will take place in your second bedroom, take inventory of the contents in this room. Are there items there that don’t belong with these activities? For instance, if this is a computer/ironing/guest room, can the hundreds of DVDs and video games find a new home in the living room by your television? Can you store your winter clothes under the bed in your master bedroom?

You will be best served by moving your storage items to the garage. Before you begin moving these boxes, empty them and decide if you still have a good reason to keep every item. Many times, we decide to keep things and years later, if we think about it, we will decide that we don’t need them anymore. If we don’t think about it, items have the tendency to remain in storage for the duration of our lives never to see the light of day again.

If you have boxes of books, which many of us do, consider whether you could find them later at a library or online if you decided to actually read them again. Donate extra books to your local library. Books are better read than stored. The library will resale them to raise money for future book purchases.

Once you decide which storage items must go back into storage, move these out of your spare room and into containers. Plastic tubs with tight fitting lids function well in garage areas.

If you are concerned about mildew, buy “Damp-Rid” packets to absorb the excess moisture. Remember to empty the water collection units regularly. Store your bins off the floor on wood or concrete blocks if your garage is prone to flooding.

After moving things to the garage, box or bag your trash and donations and take them to the dumpster or your car for transport to your favorite charity.

Use the closet in your multi-purpose room to supplement the planned activities. Find new homes for the items that don’t suit the intended purpose of your guestroom. Make certain that the items in your spare bedroom are compatible with your planned activities. Create separate zones for each task within the room, whether it is ironing or working on the computer.

Once these steps are completed, you will have a functional space and feel less overwhelmed. With any luck, your guests will also have an empty spot in the closet to hang their clothes. Good luck!

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

San Diego Professional Organizer

Posted in Articles & Advice, Blog, Organizing, Organizing Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Practical garage organization

Dear Kathi,

I have a garage for the first time and I want to organize it in the most practical way. What are your suggestions? I’m sure some things are supposed to be in the front and others in the back. I need to do laundry and park my car and would like it to be functional and easy to keep tidy.
Keith, San Marcos

Keith,

Determine what activities will take place in your garage before you begin to plan the layout. Your garage will include a laundry area, but will it also store sports equipment, garden supplies, holiday décor? Will it feature a workout or workshop area?

Once you have listed the different items you will keep in your garage, you can create a practical plan for each zone within your space. For instance, position your laundry area closest to the interior door. Gardening supplies and lawnmower should be towards the front or side of the garage to keep the dirt toward the outer perimeter and away from the laundry zone.

Every garage should include some type of storage. Does your garage have pre-existing shelving or cabinets? If possible, use an entire wall for storage. Use every inch of vertical space, ceiling to floor and if possible wall to wall. Buy the tallest available cabinets or shelves to totally optimize the space along that wall. If you still have overhead space after installing these cabinets, consider running another shelf above to hold holiday boxes or tax archives.

Cabinets/shelves are typically 20-24 inches deep and should fit easily along the wall where you will park the car. Using this wall for storage will keep lawnmowers etc from banging into your car door.

When you think your plan is complete, look again at the space above each zone. You can never have too much storage. Consider adding more shelving in the areas that have empty wall space or above the garage door. There are companies that specialize in overhead garage door storage units. This storage area works well for large items like skis, extra lumber and building supplies.

Bicycles can be hung from the ceiling using a hook, pulley and rope system. Use a boat cleat to tie them off to a sidewall once they are hoisted above head level. A quick-release rappel cleat (found at any outdoor store) will quickly attach or release the bike from the rope.

When you design your laundry area, install shelving above the washer and dryer. This will hold your extra cleaning supplies and possibly paper towels and toilet paper if you buy it in bulk. If there is extra space, consider adding a thin rolling shelf between the machines for everyday detergents and fabric softener.

Make sure to have some type of large horizontal space in your laundry zone. The ultimate solution is to buy or build a large 36″ high counter top. This will help your back and provide a convenient space to fold and hold laundry. If space is tight, an ironing board will also work for folding laundry. This board can be stored vertically and hung on a wall when not in use. You could install an ironing board system that fits in between your wall studs. It lives behind a door and folds open when it is needed.

Garden supplies can be stacked neatly in two rows of large plastic bins with lids. Extra potting soil, mixes and pots can be stored in the two bottom bins. Tools, seeds and bulbs can be stored neatly within the top bins. Sectionalize your smaller items within the larger bins with ziplock baggies and smaller shoebox size bins. Keep an empty plastic bin on top of this stack to use for potting plants. By the time you have stacked three of these bins on top of each other, you have a convenient waist-high workstation.

Feel free to write again if you need additional information about planning your garage. Have fun and remember, a little build-out and preplanning will make using your new-found space much more enjoyable.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

San Diego Professional Organizer

Posted in Articles & Advice, Blog, Organizing, Organizing Tips | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment