I believe that whenever you realize that a small investment of effort now will make your life better going forward, the time to make that investment is NOW!
One such investment, is taking a little bit of time and money to get your garage organized.
It does not need to be done all at once, but every bit of effort you put into it will make the garage that you are paying for (whether in rent or a mortgage) more useful for YOU. And that is a benefit worth taking advantage of as soon as possible.
Increase Available Floor Space with Vertical Storage
You will be amazed at the increase of floor space you will experience when you commit to taking all of the items scattered across your garage floor, and storing those items vertically. Whether stacking storage tubs, or using shelves, vertical storage is essential in making your garage useful again.
Before going vertical, our garage floor was covered with tubs, boxes, and even bags of old stuff that had been in storage since we moved into our current house years ago. Not only was that situation unsightly, but it was also potentially hazardous. There were many times when I tripped over some random box of old books, or toys that should have been thrown away long ago nearly falling to the floor. Walking through the garage, I ran the risk of tripping, falling, and possibly breaking a bone or two.
In addition to making your garage safer, clearing out the garage floor makes it easier to access all of the tools, equipment, and recreational items that you might otherwise use more frequently.
Last Christmas, we gifted out daughter her first real bow and arrow set with a nice target for practice. I had great dreams of fostering a love of the sport that might turn into a college scholarship one day relieving some of the burden of tuition. Unfortunately, my dreams have been somewhat hindered by the fact that a messy garage simply made it inconvenient to pull out the archery gear and have to put it back afterwards. Since the decluttering effort began a few months ago, she has had three shooting sessions and is once again excited about using her bow. We’ve also added metal hooks to our storage shelves that allow us to keep her bow and arrows handy and safe from damage.
I’m also excited for the upcoming spring weather. With the new space afforded us by vertical storage not only of our old storage tubs, but of our bicycles, it’s going to be much easier to keep the bikes working and ready for spontaneous rides to the park.
Get Up Off That Thang! (The Floor That Is)
Besides giving me and my family more floor space in our garage for exercise, more storage, or even PARKING A CAR, there is another awesome benefit to moving our storage items onto vertical shelves. And that is the overall cleanliness and sanitary state of the space and our items.
We keep our dog and cat food in the garage in large storage bins. Unfortunately, when the kids carry pet food into the house to feed our furry family members, they frequently spill kibble and other bits onto the garage floor. Being a busy parent, I don’t always have time to immediately sweep up any food spills out there. This can be a real problem as it can attract pests. Specifically small mammals like squirrels, possums, and RATS!
I don’t know about you, but I HATE rats. We have had three separate battles in the war against the rats in the last 12 years, and I’ve learned that anyone can get rats, because rats are everywhere. And the two best things you can do to minimize your chances of attracting rats are to 1) seal up any access points into your home, and 2) control any food-based waste around your house.
Because of this, keeping our garage floor clean of meaty morsels and crunchy bits is a high priority. And going with vertical storage makes this so much easier. Especially using the specific storage racks that we use, you can configure the height of the lowest rack. So, you can sacrifice a few inches of storage space to make sweeping under the racks easier. And anything worth doing, is worth making easier. This benefit is magnified 10 times when you consider that sometimes the spills in you garage will be liquids like laundry detergent or motor oil. It’s these times that you will pat yourself on the back for not leaving that cardboard box of old family photos or your first born’s baby clothes on the floor.
Among other things in our garage, we store old baby clothes that we may want to reuse, or pass down to family members with younger children than our own. Protecting these items not only from spills, but from the temperature changes that can happen when items are in contact with the cold floor can increase the longevity of your precious memories by deterring condensation and mold growth.
Wheels Are Your Friend
When purchasing shelves for your garage, I suggest you buy shelves with wheels.
Your specific needs may call for stationary shelves, and you may want to go with a mix of stationary and mobile shelves. But for my money, rolling shelves are the best buy. Once again, my main purpose is to increase the usable space in my garage. So, for me, there is great utility in being able to change the configuration of the shelves easily without having to call my brother-in-law over to help me shift the shelves around because of course, it would be too easy to take everything off before moving it.
With rolling shelves, I don’t even have to worry about that. Most of the time, my shelves sit perpendicular to the wall making it look like aisles in a store. This way I can access either side of the shelves, and I’m not limiting myself to just the space along the wall.
Then, when I want to spend some time doing bicycle maintenance, or that rare time that I get inspired to use my garage as a calisthenics studio, I can push the the shelves up against the wall and instantly create space for my activities.
Get Rid of It
Decluttering your garage is not only about moving things around and using the space more efficiently, it’s also about reducing the amount of stuff you keep in there. I have lived with my wife for 20 years now, some of that pre-marriage. And when you look around after 20 years of cohabitation, you find that you have accumulated a LOT of stuff. Stuff that you probably no longer need or even want. Second hand furniture that old college friends gave you when you helped them move out, “antique” candle chandeliers that you just knew you’d want in your forever home, electronics that have long since become technologically obsolete all seem to find a home in your garage.
Know that it is time to acknowledge that the items that have sat in your garage untouch for a year or more are probably not needed or even useful to you, and they are taking up space that you are paying for: space that could be otherwise serving a purpose for you and your family.
It’s time to get rid of it.
Now that you know that, check the disposal policies in your city. You may find that your city, as does mine, has a day when you can dispose of large bulky items at no extra charge to you. We are lucky in that our city has bulk pickup weekly. In addition, our regular garbage pickup accepts many items under 50 pounds.
And for those items that you hate to throw away because the still have some useful life, look up your local donation centers. If you go to Google Maps and search for “donation centers near me” you will probably find an organization nearby that makes it super easy to drive up and drop off all the stuff you don’t need, but feel bad throwing away. Many will even provide a receipt for your tax-deductible donation!
Now, for the stuff you absolutely want to keep, you want to make sure that it is useful to you. And nothing is useful if you don’t know where it is. So I suggest that if you are going to use storage tubs, use the transparent kind. It may not be the most attractive solution, but I find that if I can see what’s in a tub quickly and easily, not only do I know where those items are when I need them, but it also allows me to continuously assess whether something is a candidate for disposal or donation. This article is original content published to homeplustech.com. If it is published on any other site, it is stolen content.
If you prefer the cleaner aesthetic of opaque tubs, I suggest using a very clear labeling system. Some people even go so far as to attach a list of the items in a tub. This can be done quite neatly with those plastic paper sleeves that you get at the office supply store. These sleeves can be adhered to the top or side of a tub, and a sheet of paper with a printed or hand-written list of contents can be slid into the sleeve.
This a great solution for tubs that have a specific purpose. For example, we have three tubs that all contain camping gear. These lists allow us to know which tubs are for sleeping vs cooking gear, and serve as a checklist to quickly assess if the tub is ready to be packed into the car for a camping trip.
What We Use
Hopefully, you agree with what I’ve written here, and have decided to invest in better storage and a cleaner, safer, more useful garage. If so, let me suggest what we are actually using in our own garage. The Seville Classics UltraDurable Commercial Grade Rack.
My wife discovered these after having researched several shelving solutions and ordering them for her work. She says that when they assembled them at her job, she and her coworkers took turns testing the strength of the shelves by laying across them (though I would not advise this as I’m sure it’s not an approved use of the equipment).
These shelves are simple to assemble. The are amazingly strong and sturdy, and they are highly customizable. As I said, we have ours configured with an extra few inches between the floor and the bottom shelf to make sweeping under them easier. But comments in the Amazon reviews which you can read here, boast that they are reliable even with the bottom shelf set as high as 12 inches from the floor. With a configuration like this, you could still store item on the floor under the rack if you so choose.
There are also various add on items that work with these storage racks such as:
These shelf liners that give you a continuous surface for storing smaller items.
And these zippered covers to protect your items from dust and has a clear front panel so your items are visible.
Whether or not you go with these particular solution, please comment on what has worked for you in making your garage cleaner and more organized.