A garage is the place for all the stuff that does not belong (or fit) in the house. As a result, it can become a dumping ground heavy with disorganization. According to a recent survey, one in four Americans say they cannot fit one car in their garage. This is due to all the "stuff" without a place. A vehicle is a large investment for most Americans, and it is important to protect it. Why not make a place for your car by completing a garage makeover?

WHAT IS A GARAGE MAKEOVER?


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A garage makeover involves an investment of your time and money in order to make the most of the space in your garage. It can involve something as simple as getting rid of unused or unwanted items. It can entail buying storage systems, building your own storage, or recycling items you already have to create a place for everything. It can involve making your garage an extension of your home. You'll be more likely to spend time there if you take steps such as refinishing floors or insulating areas where heat escapes. 

IS IT TIME TO ORGANIZE YOUR GARAGE?


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A recent study found that although 92% of Americans said their home was somewhat or very organized, 25% admitted that their garage was an embarrassment. About 30% said that they kept their garage door closed so others couldn't view the disorganization. Approximately 20% admitted that they had argued with a spouse about the state of the garage. If your garage is causing embarrassment or conflict, perhaps it is time to consider taking the time to make it what you want it to be by undertaking a garage makeover.

MAKE A PLAN

The first step in the garage-makeover process is to determine how you want to use your garage. It is simply an area to park your car? Is it a place to work on projects or hobbies? Will it be used to exercise year-round or when the weather does not permit going outside? Once you determine what the garage is to be used for, make a plan for each area and how it should be organized. There are online tools available to help you design your space. Or you can simply take measurements of your space and draw a sketch. 


GET HELP

Some people have the means to hire a professional organizer to help them go through items for their garage makeover. Most people are on their own, though. Recruit a friend or family member to help you. Sometimes having another person to ask questions like, "Are you really going to use that?" can help you part with things you no longer need. The important thing is allow yourself enough time to sort through the garage. Some experts recommend setting aside at least two straight days so you will be less likely to give up partway through the sorting.

 

PURGE UNNEEDED ITEMS

One way to get rid of items during your garage makeover is to donate them. Local thrift shops or charities accept many types of donations. Some thrift shops also do consignments, so you may even make a little money from your unwanted items. Some people choose to sell their unwanted items at a garage sale in order to make some extra income. If an item is unsalvageable, you still could still take it to your local recycling center. If an item is damaged, soiled, or cannot be repaired, you may have no choice but to trash it.

Remember that paints and stains should be disposed of properly so that they do not cause harm to the environment. If you do not need paint for your next project, remember to dispose of it properly at your local recycling center. 


GROUP RELATED ITEMS

Create categories for your items and group them together. This will help you create zones for your items in the garage. If you have some extra boxes, use them to sort or place items together in certain areas. Some common grouping categories include sports items, camping gear, tools, lawn & garden, automotive, home maintenance items, and seasonal decorations.


ORGANIZE

Your local home improvement store or big box store is filled with organization solutions to help you with your garage makeover. Once you see what is left after purging and grouping, you can determine what solutions will work well for you. You can also build your own solutions or recycle objects you already have to save money and re-purpose items you may already have in your home. Here are some ideas for your garage makeover.


GREAT DO-IT-YOURSELF IDEAS


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BIKE HOOKS

Bicycles take up a lot of floor space, especially if you have more than one. Use ceiling hooks to take advantage of the unused space above you. Heavy-duty, coated hooks are available for purchase at your local hardware or big box store starting at around $5. (Of course, more expensive options are also available.) These hooks allow you to hang bicycles from one wheel. Most can be installed with just a drill for creating a hole for the hook to twist into. Just remember to follow the manufacturer's instructions.


GARDEN TOOL ORGANIZERS

If you don't have a separate tool shed, you probably have some large tools like rakes, shovels, or brooms in your garage. One handyman recommends recycling an old hose you are not using to help keep your garden tools in order. He recommends cutting the hose into 7-inch pieces and slitting them down the front with scissors. Then, nail these hose pieces to the wall with the hose facing outward. Place the handles inside the hoses, resting them on the floor. This will keep your tools from falling over. As an alternative, you can also purchase wall-mounted or free-standing tool organizers at many retailers.


OVERHEAD SHELVES

Place shelves up high to take advantage of unused space. You can place storage bins, boxes, or baskets filled with items on these shelves. You can also use a sliding storage system on the ceiling to store crates above you. This saves precious floor space for larger items such as automobiles and mowers.


BUNGEES FOR SPORTING EQUIPMENT

Families that take part in sports often have countless balls, rackets, and mitts lying around the garage. Organize these items by mounting hooks and bins to the wall. For balls, you can construct a wall-storage system using wood and bungee cords. Create a "U"-shape with wood pieces and then secure bungees to the wood, creating a barrier to hold the balls in place. You can also purchase a bungee system and wall-mounted basket system for sports equipment at many sports and home improvement stores.


HAND TOOL MOUNTING

Although a toolbox is a great way to transport your tools, it may be unnecessary for people that do most repairs at their own home. Use magnetic panels that mount on the wall to store tools. You will be able to see your tools and find them more easily than you could if they were stacked in a box. Another option is to use an old-fashioned peg board with hooks to hang tools on the wall. These are inexpensive and easy to install.


REUSE AND LABEL

Use items you already have in your home to create storage for small items. Thoroughly rinse plastic laundry containers. Cut the nozzle from them, but leave the handle intact and you have storage for screws, bolts, nuts, nails, and other small items. Plastic coffee containers, mason jars, and plastic storage containers from the kitchen can also be used for storing small items in your garage. Label each container using blank stickers and a permanent marker or use a label-making machine. Organize your containers and stack them on shelving.


DOWNSIZE YOUR BENCH

Many garages contain a large tool bench. If you do not use it often, consider purchasing a foldable version. It will save prime real-estate space in your garage, and you will still have the space needed when you have a project to complete. These wall-mounted benches are available for purchase or as kits, with plans allowing you to build them yourself.


MOUNT YOUR LADDER

Mount your ladder to the ceiling using a roller system and secure it with elastic cords to prevent the ladder from falling. Hook systems for the wall are also available for mounting your ladder. Remember to follow the manufacturer's instructions to prevent injuries from falling ladders.


USE A SLIDING SHELF SYSTEM

Shelving systems that mount to the walls at the side of your garage and roll out when needed are great space-saving ideas. They use rollers in a track system. These shelves look like drawers, but they stand vertically instead of horizontally. They have storage shelving or hooks on both sides to make the most of every square inch. You can purchase these systems or build them yourself if you are an experienced "do-it-yourselfer". This is the most expensive project listed here (costing approximately $800 to build it yourself).


CONCLUSION


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Once you have your garage organized, try hard to maintain it! Encourage all members of the family to put items back where they found them. Periodically (perhaps once per season or twice each year), re-evaluate how your organization solutions are working. Purchase or create new solutions. Remove items that are no longer needed or used. These steps can help you reap the benefits of your garage makeover for years to come.