Steps to an Organized Garage
A garage is a natural place to hide away anything you don’t want cluttering up the inside of your home, whether it’s a box of holiday ornaments or outgrown clothes. The problem is that over time, the space can start to look like a dumping ground. “If you can’t fit a car or two in the garage, you need to reassess what you’re keeping in it and how it’s organized,” says Amelia Meena, owner of Appleshine, a New York–based organizing service. She recommends doing a thorough garage reorg twice a year, as your storage needs will change seasonally. Here’s her five-step plan for getting the job done.
Put it on the calendar
While you can probably chip away at cleaning up your closet, tackling an organizing project like a garage is better handled all at once, says Meena. For most people, she recommends setting aside a weekend for the project. “If you commit to overhauling the space and setting up a system, any future changes become much more manageable.”
Consider your ideal layout
Before you start organizing, set your priorities for the garage, says Meena. “This will help you figure out how to best divide up the space.” For some people, the main goal may be to clear it out enough to park two cars inside; others may be looking to set up a dedicated area for tools or garden gear. Determine whether you need everything to be easily accessible or are okay with a stacking system that may leave less frequently used items difficult to reach.
Home in on a strategy
To kick off the project, Meena works with clients to determine how they work best: Some people prefer to start with the hardest organizing tasks, to get them out of the way; some people like beginning with the easiest job; and some choose to focus on the spot where change will make the biggest impact. “Figure out what would be most motivating for you and keep you going,” she says.
Sort, purge, repeat
Now comes the hard part: figuring out what to keep and what to let go of. “You have to differentiate between what really belongs in a garage and what’s just taking up space,” says Meena. For most people, tools, outdoor gear, bikes, and seasonal decorations all make sense in a garage. What doesn’t? Anything you put out there because you didn’t know what to do with it. “Often people decide they have too much stuff, box it up, and just put it in the garage,” she says. “Those items—books, old clothes, decor items—are typically ready to be put out to pasture”—i.e., donated or recycled.
Create a long-term system
Only after you’ve sifted through your stuff are you ready to buy any shelves, hooks, or bins. “Your approach to any organizing project should be to deconstruct and then reconstruct the space,” says Meena. While everyone’s needs are different, of course, Meena has a few favorite tools. To get things off the floor and onto the walls, she likes theContainer Store’s Elfa utility rack, which allows you to hang everything from gardening tools to bikes. She also recommends sturdy metal shelving (Rubbermaid and the Container Store both offer good options, she says). Before you buy anything, “make sure the product is really the right solution,” she says. “The last thing you want is to bring more stuff into the garage that’s not purposeful.”