My husband and I have made jokes about losing things to the garage pretty much since we purchased it, along with our home, two years ago. It’s bigger than a one car garage and significantly smaller than a two car garage, but big enough to house tons of STUFF. As an aside, husband and I pronounced stuff with an Irish accent and a giggle – if you haven’t seen St. Vincent, put that one on the list (I think it’s available On Demand) so you can giggle along with us, Melissa McCarthy, Bill Murray and the cutie Irish cop from Bridesmaids.
As anyone with an awkwardly large one car garage might do, we leveraged the extra space to our advantage, and tossed every spare part, suitcase, box of soda cans, shovel and power tool in there. Oh, plus all of my craft supplies 🙂 We even put so much in there that recently, the stuff crowded MY CAR out of the garage. As we discussed in our last post, hubby is very handy (not to be confused with handsy – it’s not that type of blog!) and had built a fantastic and functional workshop in the garage. Unfortunately, given the overflow of stuff, the workhorses and my working man had a hard time finding space and peace enough to create anything, which meant he ended up painting the Growth Chart (stay tuned for a DIY tutorial!)for baby P on our dining room table!!
You may not know this about me, but I am NOT Superwoman. I am truly grateful for our beautiful life, and thank my husband for it (and he thanks me!) regularly. That having been said, I am not uber wealthy, perpetually patient, nor do I have endless three day weekends. So when we decided that this Valentine’s Day/President’s Day long weekend was the one to dive into the garage and emerge victorious and organizationally satisfied, I was dismayed upon further review of my previous Pinterest selections.
One pin advises painting your concrete floor with a “Tuscan Gold” concrete stain, to give it a warm honey glow – that sounds fabulous, which is why I pinned it in the first place (2 years ago, when we first bought the garage + house…ahh, naïve garage fantasies) but one might need to FIND THE FLOOR in order to paint it! I want the instant garage garden shed, the overhead storage, even the warm honey-gold stained concrete floor, but we had to start small (again, ours is barely larger than a 1 car and packed with STUFF).
So we took a rough inventory, made a loose game plan, sauntered through our local Home Depot and dove in. Local life-threatening low temperatures necessitated two garage-safe heaters and lots of warm-up breaks, but over the past three days we have made a significant improvement on the state of our garage. I have to say, I’m an ignorant believer in Feng Shui – meaning I love the concept and the little I do know about it, but I by no means claim to be an expert – and my head feels cleaner and clearer!
Here’s my super sophisticated tip – do this YOUR way. Just like when I planned my wedding “using” Pinterest, I got overwhelmed and occasionally felt not good enough as I reviewed the millions of beautiful and creative ideas my fellow brides had pinned. Thank goodness my florist (another post I’m excited to share with you soon – the few amazing professionals I trust for flowers, cakes, makeup, hair, and awesome local venues for parties) kept me in check and pumped the brakes when I became Pinterest-crazed and overwhelmed. So consider me your happy brake-pumper – you don’t need a golden garage floor! Just use a system that works for you. Given that disclaimer, here are the steps I’d recommend you follow to organize your garage (or other crowded space) like a normal person:
Prerequisites: Time, a partner in (cleaning) crime, comfortable enough conditions, a donations center, and patience. I had a 3 day weekend, my husband, heaters and our home to warm up in occasionally, and the willpower that comes from 2 years of “it’s in the garage! Somewhere…” frustration.
Step 1. Assess & decide. Do this fairly, calmly if you can (a few “ahhhh!!!! It’s so crowded!!!” exclamations are ok, but then try to breathe through it!) and with any other decision-making family members. Hubby and I decided our garage was to be used for his workbench and power tools/craftsman projects, storing my craft supplies, his sporting goods, camping stuff, and my car 🙂 We relegated all seasonal stuff downstairs to the basement, simply because we only use that stuff once per year, depending on the season. The garage is easier for us to access, so we decided to limit garage storage to stuff that we use often, for the most part. Like my craft supplies 🙂
Step 2. Dive in and sort. The best advice I’ve heard says to make 4 piles: keep/used in the last 30 days; not sure/put aside to use or sort through and if you don’t use it within 30 days give it away; give away; and throw away. We try to limit the amount of unnecessary waste we put into landfills so we also filled up a huge recycling bin. Thank goodness hubby has a big truck, so we victoriously filled up the entire bed and most of the backseat with donations and drove it 30 minutes to a Salvation Army.
Step 3: Organize. My organization motto is that everything needs a home, and it has to be instinctively easy. I would rather oversimplify than accidentally overcomplicate, so I even labeled clear plastic bins. Anal-retentive, you say? Perhaps…but I can find my card-making supplies SO fast! And we labeled them using masking tape and Sharpies, ’cause it’s what we have handy. Inside the house, I try to organize naturally – meaning if hubby always throws his keys on the same corner of the counter, I put a little bowl there for keys. Back to the garage – we ended up not even using all of the tubs/bins we bought at Home Depot (always keep the receipt!) but still have a little ways to go until we’re completely done.
But, like non-superheroes of Pinterest, mere mortals of the ‘Dale, we have a (mildly inflated!) sense of satisfaction and a sexily organized garage. Woohoo! Bonus – I found like a million candles and extra craft stuff I didn’t even know I had! Who needs a Powerball ticket when you have a garage full of STUFF?!
It’s practically Spring – what needs a good deep clean in your home?
Thanks for coming along for the ride, friends 🙂