Every neighborhood has at least one garage that looks organized by someone suffering from OCD, a cross between a hospital operating room and a home improvement store ad. However, truth be told, deep down, we think, “If only I could have a garage that looked half as good as that.” My garage looks like the stock room of the local Goodwill store. What’s in your garage? If you are ready to crush the clutter in your garage, here are some organizational tips and tools to help you get started.
Garages of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
Do you ever wonder how garages came about? Me neither, but after a quick Google search, it all makes sense. Before automobiles, people had horses and buggies, which were kept in a carriage house usually located behind the property. Horses make odorous smells, so the further the way from the kitchens and bedrooms, the better.
Automobiles continued to gain popularity in the US, and home builders soon realized around the 1950s that houses sold better with attached garages. Carrying in the groceries sheltered from snow and rain is a luxury suburbanites take for granted because big-city garages are hard to come by.
Today’s garages are used as flexible space and serve many purposes. People are taking a creative approach and not only using garages for their intended design of storage and parking cars but also thinking outside the box and creating everything from man caves and music studios to garage-based business startups.
What will tomorrow’s garage look like? That mostly depends on what the cars of the future will look like, and who better to ask that Jay Leno, a world-renowned car aficionado whose new CNBC show, Jay Leno’s Garage, airs on CNBC Prime Time.
Crush the Clutter
The first step in any decluttering project is deciding what stays and what goes. The general rule of thumb for closets is that if you haven’t worn it in a year, toss it. However, for garages, the timeframe is longer. Professional home organizers recommend that if you haven’t used an item housed in your garage for three years, then it is time to either donate it or toss it. If you have items with significant sentimental or financial value, then consider placing them into a secure, convenient self storage facility.
Create more usable square footage in your garage by using easy-to-install shelving. Pictured here is steel shelving by Monkey Bars, which is a combined hook-and-bar system to create customized storage spaces. Depths range from 16-inches to 32-inches deep, allowing you to customize the storage system based on the size of your garage. The hooks come in a variety sizes and weight capacities that enable you to hang even heavier items like bikes and golf clubs or lighter things such as strollers, miscellaneous yard tools, tennis rackets, and helmets.
Upgrade the Floor
Chemical-, oil-, and water-resistant, epoxy-based garage floor coatings have come a long way thanks to improved materials and not a moment too soon since the garage is fast becoming more than a place to park your car. This type of flooring does double-duty, durable enough to handle hot tires and de-icing salts and beautiful enough to create a hang-out space. Not only does a floor coating look beautiful, but it’s also much easier to keep clean. Regular concrete garage floors attract and then kick up dirt and grime, which is tracked into your home. A coated garage floor gets rid of that nuisance and also brightens up the garage space because it is very light-reflective.
Garage Floor Tiles
If you have limited time, or you are a DIY kind of guy or gal, then you may want to consider garage floor tiles. Tile installation doesn’t require prepping your garage floor for adhesion to a paint or epoxy coating and is less expensive than having a professional do the installation. Price and quality vary, and, depending on where you live, melting snow and subzero temperatures may dictate a high-quality, rigid tile. These types of tiles are advisable if you use kickstands or floor jacks. They are easy to clean and come in perforated versions that drain spills and snowmelt, making slippery spots less of an issue.
After making the painful decision of what stays and what goes, it’s time to look up for storage. If you have seasonal ski gear or sentimental items that don’t need climate controlled storage and with which you can’t bear to part—such as your grandfather’s toolbox, toys, or holiday decorations—then, consider installing overhead bins for garage organization. These are ideally suited for the long-term storage of items that you don’t plan to access frequently. Unless you opt for a pulley system like the ones you can find at Home Depot, reaching these items will require a ladder. Also, remember to choose storage containers that are not too large or too heavy.
If you, like that neighbor down the street we mentioned earlier, suffer from a touch of OCD, then a behind-closed-doors solution may be the focus of your garage organization project. Free-standing cabinets are easy to install, protect items from dust, and can be designed to accommodate different heights and features to meet your specific storage needs. The interiors are configured with shelving for stacking boxes or with bars and hooks to hide a bag full of soccer balls and sports equipment or garden tools and bikes.
Whether your inspiration for a garage organization comes from the desire to create a man cave or a game center boasting a ping-pong table for family fun night, remember your newly organized space will require maintenance. Just like you take your car in every 5,000 miles for an oil change, your garage will need periodic maintenance too.
Clutter is essentially deferred decision making and what better way to help you remember to declutter your garage than the “National Clean Out Your Garage Day.” Celebrating its 8th year, this relatively new holiday is celebrated the first weekend after Labor Day. Add it to your calendar now to keep your garage looking as good in 2017 as it will in 2016.