Ah, your garage.
Remember how clean and desirable it looked when you first bought your home? You imagined sliding your car in with ease, stepping out into the cool darkness, and admiring your neatly organized memorabilia before slipping into your house.
And then life happened.
Now you park your car in the driveway because you have too much stuff for a scooter to fit in your garage, much less a whole car.
In fact, you may avoid going into your garage at all. Anxiety hits you when you’re surrounded by a decade’s worth of Christmas presents, tools, toys, treadmills, bikes, more toys, old televisions, photo albums, and, oh yeah, toys.
You’ve resigned yourself to the fact that your plans for the garage will never actually materialize.
Now, with a slew of new Christmas presents steadily piling up under the tree, you can already see even more space disappearing before your eyes. Soon you’ll have to climb a mountain of stuff just to make it into your house.
If this is you—don’t give up yet! You can still make your long-lost garage dreams a reality. Try a few of these tips to kick the clutter to the curb and make room for the boxes, wrapping paper, and accessories that will almost definitely end up there on December 26.
Bins, bins, and more bins.
This one might seem a bit obvious, but over invest in large, inexpensive plastic bins and a Sharpie marker. Bins make the garage organization easier because you can group similar objects together quicker.
Start by labeling them according to broad categories—toys, electrical gadgets, etc. Then tackle your least intimidating pile of junk first, throwing everything into the bins. It’s even okay to have a miscellaneous bin or two!
The object here is to divide everything into more manageable, bite-sized pieces to tackle later. Even if you have to pile bins to the ceiling, it’s better than piles of junk or clutter. You’ll feel more capable of handling it.
Get rid of anything you can.
If you tend to get emotional over your stuff, this can be a tough one. Making space doesn’t just mean organization, it also means getting rid of things.
Be tough on yourself. If you haven’t touched it in years, it’s probably safe to say you wouldn’t miss it if you sold it or gave it away. Consider taking pictures of things for memories sake instead of saving everything.
This doesn’t apply to extremely sentimental objects, of course, like wedding albums, favorite childhood toys, or your college yearbook.
However, if you can live without it, and you don’t plan on proudly displaying it to your grandkids someday, host a yard sale and make some money off of it.
Ask a friend or neighbor to join you and make it a multi-family yard sale, or—if you don’t have the time or energy to organize a sale—pile everything you can into your car and drop it off at Goodwill to help someone in need. With the weather finally down in the 60’s, organizing, sorting, and selling should be a breeze.
Take advantage of wall and ceiling space.
Walls and ceilings are often overlooked places to create storage, but they can clear up a lot of floor space and make the whole garage look and feel much cleaner and more put-together.
Look for wall mounts to hold shovels, rakes, brooms, and other space-sucking objects. Additionally, be sure to mount any tools you can on the walls; magnetic strips are inexpensive and can hold dozens of drill bits or light screwdrivers.
Ceiling hooks and mounts can hold camping, fishing, and hunting supplies. Adequate wall shelving is easy to install, but make sure that it’s broad and sturdy if you plan to stack any kind of paint cans or heavy tools on it.
…and more bins.
This time, pick up smaller bins that can fit inside of the larger bins to sub-organize items thrown in at the beginning of your sorting. For example, smaller bins might separate electrical wires, spare keys, and other small objects, either on their own or inside of a larger bin.
It seems to be a rule of life that whenever you have space, you accumulate enough stuff to fill it up (this is doubly true if you have kids). With a bit of patience and organization though, you can create order out of chaos and start to enjoy your garage the way you always imagined it.
Hey, maybe it’ll even be a great place to park your car?