Bringing Order to Chaos
• Take Inventory: Start by evaluating what really needs to be housed in the garage—cars? lawn equipment? sports gear? bikes? workshop tools? The goal will be to organize this stuff in such a way that it is easy to access (and, more importantly, easy to put away).
• Toss the Trash: Toss anything in your garage that is worthless or broken beyond repair. (For help in deciding what kind of stuff qualifies for the trash-bin, get a copy of Don Aslett’s book CLUTTER’S LAST STAND and read a few pages whenever your motivation starts to lag. His humorous style and funny anecdotes have always served as a shot in the arm for me whenever I have a big organizing project to do).
• Clear Out Clutter: Sell or donate good stuff that you’ll likely never use again. Others will be blessed by your surplus, and you will be blessed by the freed-up space. It’s a win-win for everybody.
• Stash Seasonal Items: Move seldom-used stuff that merits keeping, like Christmas decorations or between-size clothing, out of the garage. If it must stay, try storing it in uniform containers to keep the garage looking tidy. These need not be expensive—copy paper boxes work very well. I cover the front of mine (just the part that shows) with contact paper and hand-letter labels to let me know what’s stored inside.
• Grab a Brush: A fresh coat of paint will go a long way to making your garage look neat and clean, so once you’ve dealt with the boxes, roll the walls with scrub-able latex enamel, but don’t stop there. A good 2-part epoxy formulated especially for garage floors will cut down on dust and stains and will make it much easier to keep your garage looking clean.
• Park the Bikes: Bicycles are bulky, but need a place in the garage. If you only have a couple and use them infrequently, hang your bikes on the wall or from the ceiling. If you have a bunch of bikes and a bunch of kids who ride them often, buy a bike rack. My husband had a rack custom-welded to hold all 15 of ours, but you can buy smaller, ready-made racks that will hold six to eight. Ask at your local bike shop about ordering one.
• Tidy the Tools: Long garden tools like rakes and shovels can be hung on the wall. Buy a strip of clamps at a hardware store, or make your own holder by driving a row of heavy-duty finishing nails into a long piece of wood (a little spray paint will make it prettier), then threading laces through the handles of you tools to hang them by.
• Separate Nuts and Bolts: Use a small parts cabinet for nuts, bolts, nails & screws, extra batteries, washers, etc. (These are also handy for other rooms of your house: put one in the bathroom cabinet for organizing pony-tail holders, barrettes, make-up, nail polish, band-Aids, ointments, razor blades, dental floss, etc. I use a couple of them for sewing notions, too—a different drawer for each color of button, as well as needles, bobbins, thread, elastic, etc. They are also good for storing office supplies: paper clips, rubber bands, staples, thumb tacks, stamps, labels, tape, etc.)
• Add Some Shelving: For small items, like shin-guards or tennis balls or garden spades, try storing on shelves in open-topped containers (like dishpans or clear shoe boxes). Label everything, so kids (and husband) will know where it goes when they are finished using something. Invest in some adjustable shelving to make it even easier to get stuff out and put it back.
• Roll Out a Rug: Use a large doormat outside back door. This will cut down on dirt that gets tracked into the house.
• Leave Shoes at the Door: Institute “No shoes in the house” rule. Make it easier to abide by the law by providing shelves, cubbies, or racks for shoes just outside back door, and train your family to use them. We’ve labeled the shelves with the children’s names, to make it even easier to keep them neat. The younger children rarely have more than 2-3 pair of shoes each – tennis shoes, sandals, and possibly dress shoes. Older girls might have a bigger collection, but are limited to what will fit on one shelf.
• Corral Dirty Clothes: Provide laundry hampers by the back door (one for lights, one for darks, labeled accordingly) so dirty socks and work rags don’t accumulate on the floor.
• Hang Up the Coats: Install a row of hooks near the door—one for each family member—to use for drying swimsuits in the summer or hanging jackets in the winter.
• Let It Drip Dry: Suspend a long wooden dowel by chains from ceiling of garage for drying beach towels in summer, cotton clothing (on hangers) and bed linens all year long. This lets your things drip-dry without getting bleached by the sun, drenched by the rain, or soiled by the birds.
• Leave a Message: Put a small dry erase board beside door for messages. Also put up a clip to store dry erase marker.
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