Not only is it one of the largest spaces in most homes, the garage is also used by just about every family member. Unfortunately, this also means it often becomes a default location where random things wind up being stored, whether they belong there or are useful.
It’s no wonder that a survey by the National Association of Professional Organizers revealed that 50% of homeowners name the garage as the most disorganized area of their house. Even more telling is a study from the U.S. Department of Energy which found that 25% of people with a 2-car garage don’t have enough space to fit even one car into it.
If you’ve recently completed a long-distance move, you’ve probably gotten rid of many things found in garages that couldn’t be legally transported in a moving truck. For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume you’ve noticed some storage problems already creeping into your new space. We’ll also forgo getting into bigger projects like setting up a workshop, installing insulation or investing in extensive remodeling work. To really get on top of the situation right now, you need to keep the Big Three in mind:
Start by cleaning out the entire garage. Granted it’s the most challenging task of the Big Three, but the most important if you’re really serious about reclaiming wasted space. If possible — and weather permitting — use your driveway as a staging space to sort through the stuff.
Start with the low-hanging fruit: items like expired first-aid kits, outdated pesticides and household cleaners, toys that are no longer used (bye bye, Big Wheel!) and broken items that you never quite got around to repairing. Hint: if it’s a “repair job” that’s been gathering dust in the garage for more than two years, it probably needs to go. That said, you still need to be thorough and check out all boxed items just in case something’s made its way into the garage by accident.
Once everything’s been removed, take inventory of what you have and decide what you’ll get rid of, what’s worth keeping or what you’d like to sell. If there are several salable items, check out our tips for organizing and hosting a garage sale and other ways to earn some extra cash.
Once you’ve separated the “keepers” from the rest, it’s time to look at what should and shouldn’t be stored in your garage. For example, partially used paint cans often wind up in the garage; however, they can be adversely affected by extreme heat and cold and end up being unusable. Consider relocating them to a more protected part of your home such as the basement.
Paper goods attract insects, vermin and other outside creatures who nest in them and create unsanitary conditions. It’s a much better idea to recycle old magazines and newspapers promptly and only keep enough paper towels and similar items on hand to fit into your kitchen pantry or bathroom closets. The same goes for pet food, another item that’s bound to attract unwanted pests: keep it inside and preferably in a sealed container.
Many people like to keep an old refrigerator or freezer in their garage to supplement kitchen storage. However, these appliances weren’t designed for spaces that aren’t heated or air-conditioned and will certainly drive up utility costs. If you want extra space for your perishables, consider relocating these appliances to the basement or a utility room.
Think about your garage less as a “catch-all” space and more like a series of zones where you can quickly grab what you need. Sketch out a rough floorplan of your garage and use it to create distinct zones. Give items like car care products, sports equipment, holiday decorations and gardening tools their own distinct sections, and place frequently used items like bicycles close to the door. Overhead space is great for hanging long, flat items like ladders and surfboards; just make sure you buy and install any mounts securely and that there’s enough clearance for the roof of your car.
Many people store items like lawnmowers and leaf blowers in the garage. These need to be placed in slightly out of the way locations like a corner where they’re less apt to get accidentally bumped by a car. Also, consider any gasoline-powered items — and the gas itself — a potential fire hazard. We recommend purchasing a small U.L.–listed fire extinguisher and mounting it near your mower and gas/oil cans.
If You’re Feeling Ambitious…
Consider installing pegboards with hooks and attachments that let you hang items directly on the walls. Wall-mounted cabinets are another great way to maximize space. If you’ve recently completed a kitchen makeover, repurposing old kitchen cabinets can be a thrifty and sustainable way to get smaller items off the floor and into a more secure spot. We recommend removing the cabinet doors to make finding stuff easier as well as avoid potential infestation problems. The exception to this would be one or two lockable cabinets for lawn chemicals and other hazardous materials you don’t want kids getting into.
We hope your journey to Finding Home is smooth and successful. And remember, no matter where you happen to be in the moving process, you can count on Mayflower to be with you Every Step of the Way®.
Want more tips and advice? Check out our other blogs for city guides, decorating ideas and a wealth of other helpful, time-saving information.
Oh, and did you know Mayflower has a channel on Spotify? Move and groove to tunes that get you to your new place — and settled in — in style.