Living Space: Tame that out-of-control garage
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Even if the rest of the house looks terrific, there's one room many homeowners don't want anyone to see: the garage. Too often, the flotsam and jetsam of our lives finds its way into the garage. If you get frustrated picking through the mess, or if you're embarrassed to even open the garage door for fear your neighbors will peek inside, it's time to get organized.
Time for inspiration
Because it's hard to get inspired about cleaning the garage, you may need some inspiration. Nothing is more motivating than seeing other garages that are organized and neat. Google Images is a good place to look.
A quick search under "garage organization" will yield thousands of garage photos illustrating a number of organizing methods from large wall units to simple shelves. You'll find both commercial and do-it-yourselfer images to help you formulate a plan. Print out and enlarge the photo you like best to guide your garage transformation.
Take it outside
Once you know what you want to do, move everything out of the garage. Create two piles, one for items that will stay, the other for things you plan to throw away or donate. Then, using your Google image, install an organizing system. Metal-free standing shelves go together in a snap and can be removed if you sell the house.
Overhead shelves that can be installed in the ceiling rafters go up fast and offer terrific storage for items you use infrequently, like camping gear and seasonal decorations. Simple heavy-duty metal shelves, available in the garage section of your local home center, large clear tubs and a variety of hooks and hangers will get you started quickly.
A singular good rule for keeping your garage neat and tidy? Get as much as you can off the floor and onto the walls.
Once your shelves or organizing units have been installed, start designating storage areas based on what items you use most. If it's tools, put these within easy reach. If it's sports equipment, stash your collection so each piece can be retrieved quickly.
Put the items you use least often in less convenient storage areas, such as overhead areas or high shelves. If you use opaque storage tubs, clearly label each so you won't have to open every one when you need something.
While you're re-working the garage, try adding some nice features to the mix, such as a recycling center or a workbench with pegboard for tool storage. There's no reason your garage can't be useful and enjoyable, as well as organized.
Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her website, redlotusletter.com.