How to organize your garage – now

  • Article by: NICOLE ANZIA
  • Special to the Washington Post
  • November 10, 2012 - 2:15 PM

Attention, cluttered-garage owners: Remember when you had to dig your car out from under two feet of snow because your garage was too cluttered to park in? With the recent nip in the air, it's time to take action and clean up that garage.

Take inventory

Some of the items that people put in their garages are things they know they don't want but just don't have the time or energy to move out entirely. As you're assessing what is taking up all the floor space, start dividing items into piles: to keep, to throw away, to donate and to give to a neighbor or relative.

If the items in your trash pile are considered bulk trash, check with your local government for information about collection. In some cases, items will be picked up by your trash hauler; in other cases, you'll need to take them to a collection site. If never getting around to dropping items off is what's filling your garage with junk, consider calling a junk-collecting company to make an appointment. The latter will cost some money, but the convenience can't be beat.

No doubt some of the items you want to toss are considered hazardous waste. People frequently get stuck when they find these things. They don't know what to do with them, so they do nothing. Fortunately, disposing of paint, chemicals and old electronics has never been easier. Many local jurisdictions have designated drop-off locations. For times of operations and a list of acceptable items, visit your local government's website.

To donate unwanted items, take advantage of one of the many charities that have regular pickups or make a run to a local dropoff location.

When it comes to giving that toddler's bike, old painting or power tool to a friend, don't decide to wait until the next time you see that person. Not only will you probably forget, but it can make for an uncomfortable situation if that person doesn't actually want the item. A better plan is to call or e-mail to confirm the person wants what you have and set up a time for an exchange.

Spruce up your space

Now that you have winnowed everything down to the essentials, take a critical look at the space to determine whether it could benefit from a coat of paint and additional lighting. There's no need to paint your garage like the Sistine Chapel, but if your budget allows, a little white paint for the walls and gray paint for the floor could make a huge impact. Likewise, if you have a lone light bulb dangling from the middle of the ceiling, consider an upgrade. It's a lot easier to keep the garage tidy if you can see what's in it.

Maximize your storage

Consider how much shelving can fit along the perimeter of your garage while still leaving room for your garbage cans and vehicles. Sturdy shelving suited for a garage ranges in price from less than $100 to several thousand dollars, but basic adjustable shelves are all that is necessary to store any overflow of household goods, pet food, or items for outdoor entertaining. Take accurate measurements before you head to the store.

Other available wall space can be used to hang hooks for bikes, tools and bags that can hold balls. Don't be intimidated. These are not complicated, fussy "systems." There are plenty of simple, versatile units that can be easily installed and designed to fit your specific needs. The Container Store's Elfa line offers creative ways to hang everything from a lacrosse stick to a fishing rod to a skateboard.

Be realistic

A word of caution: Organizing a garage is a lot of work. Don't set yourself up for disappointment by thinking you can do it all in one day. It might take a couple of days or two weekends, but the work you do now will give you peace of mind when snowflakes start falling.

© 2018 Star Tribune